The light from the cherry of a cigarette dimly lit his face as he puffed, puffed, puffed. He offered it back to me before turning in a slow circle, studying our surroundings. The tall cliffs and prickly cacti of the Arizona desert were but silhouettes against an orange and purple sunset.
He looked at the signs in the parking lot, surely wondering why it was even there in the middle of nowhere. It was the easiest place to start our trek from.
He smiled in his confusion. “What are we doing here, babe?”
I smiled back. I had been playing the long game. Waiting for two years to show him a secret not another living soul knew about. I couldn’t wait for the look on his face when I surprised him!
“We,” I said as I grabbed a pack with water and other necessities, “are taking a walk.”
“Where are we going?”
“Darling, I would hate to spoil this surprise for you. It’ll ruin the fun! You’ll just have to wait and see.” He didn’t pry further.
I passed the cigarette back to him. It was merely a nub at this point, but I thought he was more in need of the rest of it than I. What was his reaction going to be? Wonder or something a little more dramatic?
Our two years together were lovely. Wildly attractive, I knew from the moment I laid eyes on him that he had to be the one.
Everything about him made our time together easy. He supported me in every way. Hardly ever having to work, I was mostly left up to my own devices.
He loved when I picked up a new hobby, doting on projects that weren’t worthy of being doted on. Once, I crocheted a blanket so crooked I considered throwing it in the trash before he could see it.
But he loved it. It still lays across the back of the couch we purchased together to this day.
He breathed in deeply, clearly enjoying the cool night air.
Does he have any idea of what the night will bring?
As we marched through the darkness, getting closer and closer to the cliff walls, a cave began to appear. Well, it probably looked like a darker spot amongst a wall of darkness to him, but I knew what it was.
“We’re here.” I grabbed his hand, leading him into inky black hole.
His eyes searched the darkness. Sensing his nervousness at losing one of his senses, I pulled a lantern from the pack, turned it on, and sat it in the middle of the opening.
While he explored the arched walls, I began to organize the rest of the supplies. A blanket, mini charcuterie board, and a bottle of his favorite red wine were all awaiting him when his gaze returned to where I sat.
“My, my, my, this is a surprise.” He smiled at me warmly.
“We haven’t even gotten to the best part yet.” I smiled coyly back at him.
He sat on the blanket next to me, grabbing a slice of salami after he was settled.
“What’s the occasion?”
“You are, darling.”
He smiled at me again. “Wonderful. How did you find this place?”
It was clear to him it wasn’t the average cave. There were faded dark red drawings on the walls marking a path to large square boulders at what appeared to be the end of the tunnel.
“Oh, I’ve known about it for many, many years now. I wanted to save it for our special night.”
We chatted and laughed together throughout the night. He had eaten most of the meat and cheese before it occurred to him I hadn’t had any.
“Aren’t you going to eat?”
“No, I think I’ll save myself for dessert.” I winked
A flash of knowing in his eyes, he asked provocatively, “What’s for dessert?”
Never answering, I stood to remove my shirt. He didn’t need anymore of an invitation. We were both naked and on the blanket in less than a minute. The love making was long and sweet, and we lay on the blanket for some time after we were finished.
Still unclothed and holding me, he looked at the watch on his wrist.
“It’s getting late, we should go.”
“I have all the time in the world. No need to rush darling.”
He reached for the bag to pull a new pack of cigarettes and a lighter from it. Really, it was a nasty habit, but I enjoy it enough that it is a necessity when choosing a partner. Something about the flavor…
I stood and stretched, relishing in his wide eyes and… horror. The look on his face was definitely horror.
Although it disappointed me, I couldn’t blame him. My skin was dark and scaly and my tail was long and sharp. It had already been used many times over the thousands of years. He wanted to speak, I could tell, but his mind only had the capacity to process his fight or flight response.
How I had hoped this one would be more in awe than afraid of my true form. There was something so intimate about it when they were willing.
Smiling at him, sharp teeth gleaming, pupils minimizing to slits in my yellow eyes, I let a high pitch whistle rush from my throat.
His mind had finally concluded that flight was his best option for survival. As he leapt into the air, making a break for the desert, I whipped my tail toward him. He thrashed until his fate seemed inevitable.
Blood gushed from where my tail had impaled him through his chest. He sagged against the sharp point, begging to know why. After all these years, why had I done this to him?
I gave him the simplest explanation I could. “Our daughter needs your nourishment darling.”
A rock fell behind him. He slowly turned his head to look for where it came from, seeing his offspring for the first and last time.