“Everything will turn out right, the world is built on that.” (382)
—The Master and Margarita
When the devil leaves, she takes me with her.
This is not her fault; do not lay blame at her feet, lay it at my own. I begged and begged and eventually threatened to steal her favorite dog Sadie away in the night. She laughed at me again and again but eventually conceded, as I knew she would. As we both knew.
By then I was already part of her family. Over the years I crept closer and closer, so softly she could pretend not to notice. I baked her an apple spice pie upon her mother’s death and that was the first time she let me into her house.
And I was the first. The devil kept apart from us, trapped I suppose in her crumbling mansion the way the rest of us were trapped in our crumbling agriculturist lives. My mother hissed and spat at the ‘interloper’ and taught her children to do the same, but I always was a difficult child.
So my mother says and so I believe.
When the devil came to town, she wore a long black veil to cover up her eyes. I have seen them since, uncovered; I can report they are cerulean, the color of the sky over the Cliffs of Dover on the rare cloudless day.
True, I have never seen the Cliffs of Dover, but I can speculate.
Surely you will forgive me that much?
The devil’s dress was scarlet silk, and that is how we knew she was the devil. Her eyes were ringed with kohl and filled with spite, even then, if we had been able to see.
I have seen since. Always the kohl. Always the spite. Always the same.
No petticoats, though something sleek and shimmery underneath her dress to cling to the curves revealed within the silk. This something sang out against her calves when she walked, peeked out at her ankles as if begging to be noticed.
How could I not answer the call?
I trailed her for miles, that first day. Tore my wrist from my mother’s grasp and ran off behind the coach as her four black horses pranced stately and serene to her inheritance, the old haunted house.
I watched her disembark. Hid in the thatch of maple though I am certain she knew I was there. I saw her lift one eyebrow as she allowed the coachman to lift her out, not enraged but intrigued.
I watched them put their hands on her. The only time I have ever seen her allow anyone’s hands on her is such occasions, when society demands she allow such intrusions into her sphere of self-determination. I know they are intrusions, for she tells me so.
I know they are intrusions, for every curve of her body has promised me that she is mine and I have no reason to doubt her.
The devil takes me and I let her. She takes me by the hand and she takes me by the throat and leans in for a kiss. She opens up her mouth and even if this is the only time she allows me such liberties I take them, dear god, and I beg silently for more and hope she does not hear me.
Though I know she does, for the devil hears everything.
Off we fly into the nightmares of the world. There are dragons rising to defend hoarded gold and there are bodies wrestling for power and there are bodies wrestling for pleasure. There are adventures I wish I were in but I am in my own adventure instead, and must make due.
Ariadne Wolf works at the intersection of Gender Studies, Queer Studies, fantasy and gritty realism. Their first book, a speculative memoir entitled But It Will Hurt, will be complete by May 2019.