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  • When I was seventeen I made love to the dark. This is how my memoirs will start, with a cliche to end all cliches, a hook to promise readers at least a hint of sci-fi levity before the real story tosses them like a cork. I didn't pathologize him the way most narratives seem to, didn't caricature him into something hulking and malformed. He was small and quicksilver with a razor-sharp aspect and the carriage of a tribal chief, a rough but not raging lover. Above all, I did not try to turn him light.

    It's funny the way having him didn't churn you up the way most sex, human sex, does. He explained to me the first night that I had known him all my life. We all had - every shadow draped across a twilit field, every pocket of dark tucked between evening and night. He made me come in waves. rocking between extremes and settling eventually into that pocket of dark. His sex wasn't a high I came down from, it was a homecoming I settled into. There's a certain falsity in human sex, a glitz that leaves you naked and bald once the last shocks of cum have dissipated. But lying in his arms was fundamental. It was the order of things, and it made everything else seem the artifice. It nourished me.

    I am about sixty percent light, he told me. Maybe some earth thrown in to temper me, some chaos to make things interesting. The first night he asked if I was all right, whispered that he could feel my heart beating through my back. Already he was beginning to wring changes in me. The energies he brought to me, to my mind and my naked body and most importantly my heart, were so sweeping that they seized my cycles. His essence cloaked mine like flood puddles drowning a cornfield, like so much unabsorbed water dwarfing whatever you'd thought was important.

    And of course there were times I wanted to run away screaming. Being sixty percent light, my energy is paler and less opaque than his. Apprehensive, he called it, always waiting for a bigger blow, which to some extent I was: jolts that bounced off him too often went right through me. Always I was steeled against something, gathering myself to be a worthy enough receiver. Every day it was something bigger. A constant test. He turned lovemaking into a martial art. On the second night he had me up against the door, my wrists pinned under his and his eyes melting into the truest dark I'd ever felt. The locks were straining, the barriers starting to crack. Until then I had only ever kissed the man, and now I stood upon the brink of the force.

    "Do you want to meet me?"

    "No...not yet." It would have been too much. I was flushed from spells and kissing.

    "That's all right." He pressed his lips against my neck. "Whenever you're ready."

    I was afraid to nuzzle him in his sleep. Before we'd drifted off, he gripped my hands and made me listen. "Don't ever try to get into my dreams. I dream in forces, and they would overpower you." He swallowed. "I don't want you to drown in me." In bed that night our spooning became unhinged, and I was afraid to clutch him back. Lying there in the wee hours he had melted into his element. I watched his wiry shoulders rise and pitch like lungs, less a body than a single organ in the machinery of forces I was too human to witness. In the darkest hours he was self-contained, and he did not need my touch.

    And that was what above all else I could never afford to forget. "What I need," he said, "is someone to make my life bearable, to whom I can in turn supply something wonderful." During those hazy days (months? years?) of fucking I never knew, nor did I much care to, how many others he was with. I never overestimated the limits of my solace. It would have been easy, being courted by the darkness, to assign myself a higher station in his life and the universe than I deserved. But ultimately all I could do was squeeze his hand when his eyes drifted to deeper things, and hope he'd find his way back.

    "What are you thinking?" I once made the mistake of asking.

    "Oh, everything." His smile did not reach his eyes. I squeezed his hand and made barely a ripple, and I wished desperately to at least graze his soul.

    When I was seventeen I made love to the dark, with the typical college-girl blend of bravado and angst. Before Darkness I had been with one other, a dream mage. He loved me deeply; he loved me right out of his depth. It scared him. He loved me humanly, and in consequence he was terrified to fuck me. With Dark there were no such petty hang-ups. No earthly attachments to curb the spreading of those brutal wings and no sheen of sentimentality to guard my bones from the essence of him. He got at me into me turned me churned me. And I hung on for dear life and tried not to drown.

    The rumbles of my last orgasm have long since tapered off. The pockets of dark are not as charged as they were. Some nights, though, the shadows are truer than others. And I open my eyes and feel him. He's waiting; I always knew that. For something greater than ever I could provide. I'm still surprised I ever had him. It wasn't love, and it could hardly have been lust. (Was it need?)

    When it gets dark I still feel the aftershocks. And I whisper, in something more ineffable than words, hey there.

    I miss you.
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