SUCCUBUS • by Erin Lawless

If this was a movie, and she had her own theme music, it would be a salsa song. It’s all to do with the way she carries herself — earthy and fluid all at once. Despite this, she is a true English Rose, short and fair, hair pinned back and always well dressed. She sits towards the back of the seminar room and never speaks unless she is spoken to and then it is just to add to whatever is on discussion that week. Shakespeare, Marvell and Keats roll deliciously off her tongue.

For the past three months or so she’s been coming to my room about twice a week, sometimes with alcohol on her breath, but most of the time she’s sober. It gives me a little thrill if she’s still wearing the clothes she was in the seminar that afternoon. On those evenings she smells damp, like the library, and I unwrap her like a present.

Eventually she climbs on top of me; there is never any sentiment. It is strange that in an act so passive she can be so terrible. She opens her legs and swallows me whole. In the moment of her climax she is elsewhere, knuckles white as she clutches the bedsheets, head thrown back, staring out, out, as if she longs to rise up through the ceiling, capricious, mercurial. A soft sighing — but no other sounds, not ever — and it’s over.

I don’t know who she thinks of — it never seems to matter at the time — but lately I have found myself wondering, does she fuck me like this to remember, or to forget?

The orgasm humanises her. Her hairline is sweaty and her makeup smudges under her eyes. She gives me a long, lingering kiss — the only point that we ever kiss — and a sweet smile. She’s always gone long before the hall curfew is called, leaving me as disheveled as the room, books discarded to the floor, my skin still coated with her lust.

The next time she comes I will put salsa music on my stereo, take her in my arms and hold her tight, anchor her quicksilver flesh to mine. We all of us miss someone, here in these prefabricated halls. I want it to be more than it is.

Erin Lawless is a graduate of the University of London, where she read for a BA in English and Classical Studies and a Masters in Shakespeare. She now works in a job which entails lesser members of the British nobility screaming abuse at her on a day-to-day basis, and survives this by writing short stories and flash fiction at her desk.

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