Praying Through the Nose

It is ritualistic, the way she looks for skin bare of scarring. The way she twists, looking for a patch of purity to mar. Her naked body beautiful. Perfection in motion. Death in precision. Formed by folly of man but shaped under her own two hands.

It is her religion; she prays at the altar of self-inflicted wounds -- Our Lady of the Imperfect Flesh.

He watches the genuflection. Those hands move back and forth, meticulously crossing one rapidly healing line over another. Were she anyone else, he would play the hero. With her, though, there is no need for action. He understands the motivation.

In a sense, a cut for her is a cut for him.

He wonders if, one day, the only original skin remaining will be out of her reach. On that day, would she present to him that hard-to-reach spot, pleading only with smooth skin for him to change her?

In a sense, a cut from him is a cut from her.

But when she straddles him, he knows she'll never ask for what she can take herself. The Dracula moon makes its way into his room, her raised right hand turned red in its light. Crossing back and forth. Meticulous in precision. Perfect in infliction.

"In a sense," she says, "a cut for you is a cut for me."