It was darkening, the end of the day. I walked a suburban artery that fed the middle class neighborhoods of Castle Rock. I quickened my pace, anxious to arrive at my girlfriend’s parents’ house. I walked purposefully, looking down to my remembered path.
Suddenly, I was compelled to look up, and there she was.
She was beautiful. The fading light fell upon the window where she stood, perfectly framing her in the wide white sash around the window. I looked up, finding her eyes as they looked down, directly into mine. The window was of a single pane of glass, large enough to show her from below her waist to her enchanting face, with no obstructions.
I slowed down, never taking my eyes away from her.
She reached to a place below her neck and released a button on what I could see was an oversized white shirt, a man’s shirt, and it fell from her, sliding down her body, catching only slightly as it exposed her breasts and again as it cleared her hips. She was unbelievably lovely, a dream. Her eyes held mine. I took her in, the whole sight of her, lost in the vision framed in the window. She seemed to absorb what light remained and my eyes drank it. I slowed my pace further, intent on the sight of her but afraid to stop and stare. In an instant, she was only an outline and I passed the angle as the light fell completely.
My body shook, I walked in a daze. Her house was at the corner where I would turn toward the cul de sac for my girlfriend’s parents’ house. As I rounded that corner and came to pass the front yard of the dark house, a light burst forth, illuminating a porch and a door, the front door to the house where she had let me see her. A curtain parted in the middle of a large paned window to the side of the illuminated door. I could not see behind the parted curtain but I could feel her looking at me. I could feel her naked body, perfect in the darkness of the house.
I did not stop.
As I passed the house the shadows cast by the light from her porch blinked out, absorbed into the darkness. That darkness passed into me, a dark longing quickened inside, the image of her framed in white and gray light burned into my consciousness.
Lea and I sat on the floor at the foot of her bed, listening to music and texting friends, looking for something to do, somewhere to go. It was Friday night. I was distracted but so was Lea, as she always was, absorbed into the screen of her iPhone, searching for some reason to be awake. I absently held her as she leaned against me and I thought about the girl in the house at the corner.
“Who lives down on the corner? On the side of the street as I turn coming from my house.”
Lea looked at me with an odd questioning expression. She set her iPhone down on the floor beside her and sat facing me.
“Nobody. That house has been empty for a long time. I used to hang out there a lot. The daughter of the couple was my best friend, Jorney. The parents got a divorce. The father was having sex with a high school girl, one of his students. It was really gross. Jorney cried and cried. My parents wouldn’t let me go over anymore. Then they were gone. No one knew where, or at least no one would tell me anything.”
A chill pasted through me and the hair on my arms stood.
“Why do you ask?”
“I never really noticed the place, but there was a light there tonight. It startled me when it came on.”
I did not tell Lea about seeing the beautiful woman.
“Really?” Lea said in an enthused conspiracy whisper. “What happened?”
“Nothing really. I thought I saw someone in a window as I walked by and then when I turned the corner the porch light came on. It kind of freaked me out.”
“Someone in the window? What did they look like? Man or woman?”
This line of questioning was getting dangerous. Lea was possessed of a terrible jealousy I tried never to excite.
“No one. I don’t know. I, I couldn’t tell.” I was stammering. “It was kinda dark.”
Lea cocked her head to the side and looked at me.
Oh man, she’s pissed.
“You fucking liar! Who did you see? It was a girl, right? And now you’re asking me who she is! You piece of shit!”
“Come on! You’re crazy! How do you come up with this stuff?”
“Crazy?” She lowered her voice and leaned in close to me. “I’m crazy?” She sat up straight and held her finger up in front of her. “Get the fuck out of my house asshole!” And she pointed to the door.
I left Lea's house with her crying in her bedroom. I said quick goodbyes to her parents who were watching television. They waved, long used to my comings and goings. Outside the house I breathed deeply. The early spring air was colder now. I knew I was in for a few days of hysterical texts and some screaming voice mails. I wasn't looking forward to it, but I placed it to the side.
The girl was omnipresent in my thoughts. I could not erase the image of her in that window. And I could not erase the memory of her eyes, following me, looking into my own. The memory played over and over. Her eyes. I stood there in the front yard of Lea's parents’ house playing this vision over and over again. Her eyes.
I tried to focus back, back to her naked body in the window, framed in white. I tried to recall the image of her shirt dropping, revealing so much beauty, but there were only glimpses. Her eyes were there, always before me, looking into me.
I needed a drink. I felt like I should light a cigarette. I didn't smoke. I looked up behind closed eyes, into the night sky. She said to come to her, and her eyes closed.
Almost in a trance I walked into the street and turned out of the cul de sac. I could see the porch light come on at the house on the corner.
She opened the door to let me in. The house was dark. The dusty hardwood floor was visible in the faint light cast inward from the porch light. There was nothing in the large front room. Her feet were bare. I followed her bare legs up to the hem of the man’s white shirt loosely draped from her shoulders. I looked at her and drank in her beauty. She smiled. The porch light went out. The door closed. She took my hand without a word and started up the stairs. Her hand was warm. Halfway up she turned to me, smiling.
"Thank you for this. I have waited a long time."
I woke alone, naked on the floor of an upstairs bedroom. Sunlight filled the empty room, flooding through the open door. I squinted into the light and made out the form of the large, single pane window where I had seen her from the street below.
I thought to call out for her. I realized then I did not know her name. Somehow I knew I was alone in the house. I could not remember from the night, but she was incredible. So perfect. I remember she felt very warm, almost hot. It could have been me but she felt like she had a high fever. Once the lovemaking began, I was lost in it. Now I only remembered entering her and the heat of her body.
My phone gave off a single chirp
Shit! I’m out of battery.
I dug it out of my jeans. Before it went dead I saw the long list of missed calls and messages from Lea.
I got dressed, thinking to leave the house from the back door. I was uncomfortable being seen exiting an empty house and there was also the possibility of Lea passing by on her way to school.
The house backed up to a narrow strip of green belt with a low, split rail fence at the end of the backyard. I had to leave the house through the den which was very dark, being at the back of the house with no windows save the black out curtained, sliding glass door, through which I would exit. I reached for the light switch as I stepped down into the den and flipped it, nothing. I flipped it up and down a couple of times challenging the fates. I frowned, leaned back into the kitchen and found the light switch on the kitchen side of the same wall. Nothing. There was no electricity.
A queer chill passed over my shoulders. I looked around me and quickly stepped across the dark den, pulling the drapes away from the sliding glass door and flooding the room with morning light. I looked around me nervously. There was no one and nothing in the room. The hair of my arms stood. I fumbled with the lock mechanism, releasing it and pulling hard. The door slid but an inch and slammed against something low, stopping cold, my fingers ripping out of the slot to pull it open.
I became frantic. Fear climbed up my spine. I looked down to the track guiding the path of the door. There was a man’s head with the base of the glass door embedded. Dried blood lay in the track and on the floor. I screamed and jumped back from the impossible sight, peddling frantically in reverse. I caught one foot with the other and fell hard on my back facing the hideous sight.
But it was not there.
I stared wildly at a metal bar resting in the track, blocking the path of the sliding glass door.
I jumped to my feet, pulled out the metal bar and threw the sliding glass door against the end of its track, stumbling out onto a small concrete porch. I turned, facing back into the house and quickly pulled the door closed, stopping when I realized I could not lock the door from outside. I ran for the split rail fence and cleared it with a bound, falling to my hands and knees in the wild grass beyond the fence. I had to compose myself. I stayed there on all fours, breathing hard. After just a few moments I rose to my feet and turned toward the road, and the corner of the backyard I just fled. I held close to the fence and looked carefully around the corner, hoping not to find someone out walking the dog, or a familiar car driving by. There was no one on the sidewalk. I stepped out from behind the fence. A car drove by. Lea flipped me off as she gunned her car to speed away from me.
I looked up at the house.
She was in the window, her white shirt unbuttoned, hanging from her shoulders.
She smiled at me.
For the next five days I went to the house. I entered though the back yard, easily scaling the low fence. I went when I knew Lea would be at school and I went again late at night. At first my lover would be standing in the den when I pulled back the sliding door. Each time I could not help but look down for the head. It never returned. She would take my hand and walk me upstairs to the same bedroom.
After our fourth or fifth time together, she waited for me upstairs, as if waiting for a meal. She became more direct, taking me and pulling me to the floor, pulling my clothes off, touching me and putting her mouth on me everywhere. It was amazingly thrilling, but somehow oppressive, consuming.
I was exhausted. My normal vitality reduced to a crawling lethargy, literally crawling up the stairs to the room where she waited, where I went to be consumed.
Last night, after she fed, she looked at me coldly. Other times she would roll to her side, sated, breathing in deep rhythmic pulses, leaving me on my back staring into the empty ceiling. I would fall asleep and wake with her gone.
But last night she rose from her feast and looked down on me. I saw her there on the edge of my vision, and then scanned over to find her ever-present eyes looking into mine. Her face screwed into a scowl, then she smiled.
“Really, I should thank you, but I won’t.”
I looked at her dumbly, not breathing, anticipating.
“You were nice, but really, you should have been more.”
I lifted myself onto my elbows to protest, to offer more.
“Goodbye boy. This is over for me, but for you, it has only just begun. I’m going to let you live. I won’t take that last piece from you. Someday maybe you will thank me for letting you live, but I doubt it. You will never be satisfied, you will always be hungry.”
She turned away.
“What is your name?” I blurted it out. Many times I had wanted to ask her this simple question but did not for fear, of knowing perhaps, or for fear of what would change.
She turned back to face me, thoughtful, considering what she would say.
“This,” she said as she drew her open hand down the length of her beautiful torso, presenting it, “is Reina.”
She paused, smiling at me with her secret.
“I’m sure you’ve heard of her. She’s that naughty, little girl from your school that was caught fucking her math teacher.”
She looked up to the ceiling, appearing to contemplate something.
“I have forgotten his name.” She gave a small laugh. “But I remember his little girl, Jorney, and her little friend, Lea, your girlfriend.”
She smiled, still looking into the ceiling.
“They would both be wonderful right now."
She looked down at me; her eyes open full, hate lucent.
“But Reina, she’s hiding in here somewhere.” She waved her hands up and down across her body, searching in disgust for her cohabitant. “The little slut!”
I recoiled from her, scrambling backwards on my hands and feet until I hit my head on the wall. She took a step toward me.
“What? What are you?” I stammered, bile and fear pushing up into my throat.
She moved closer, crouching down to the level of my eyes, turning her head to examine me. I pressed myself into the wall, turning my face away from hers, cowering under my upheld hands.
“You asked me for my name.” She held her eyes over me, smothering me in hate. “My name is Lilith. It’s a very old name, older than your bible, the Old Testament part. I missed the cut in Constantinople so you won’t find me in that book. But I’m in older, even scarier books. Priests call me a succubus. The priests, the ones who really believe, they fear me the most”
She rose to her full height. Under my hands I saw her look up. She sighed resignation, or disappointment.
Her body, the body, Reina’s body, arched back against its spine and issued a horrible cry of pain and anguish. Her upper abdomen and chest began to bulge, pushing her shoulders back further with each horrible pulse. She lifted her head to stare at what was happening to her body. She found me cowering against the wall. Her eyes were full of fear and her mouth open in a silent scream of astonishment. She reached for me and then it happened.
Her chest cavity split open. A terrible, putrid essence flowed from the rent in her chest. She did not fall, suspended there, staring at her torn body. The stuff coming from her took form in the air between us.
Reina let loose a final, terrible scream. The substance pouring from her body disbursed into a billion particles, filling the room and pushing me hard, almost into the wall, unable, or afraid, to breath.
Before Lilith disappeared I heard Reina’s body fall to the floor. Lilith spoke to me silently.