U U B US
by Greg Beatty
“Buy you a drink?” he said.
“Buy me a drink?” she said.
“Jinx,” they said together.
“Ji–” they started to say again. Then they both laughed, nervous at having exposed their need to be human. He turned away, to order her drink. She turned forward, to play at tucking her perfect hair behind her ears.
“So,” he said, sliding the dirty martini towards her.
“Nice,” she said, sipping it. “You seem to know exactly what I need.”
He smiled, confidently back on script again. “I know what everyone needs.”
Her smile turned edged. “What about you? What do you want?”
He looked away; he looked sad. She followed his gaze, till both of them were looking at the room behind them in the mirror before them. When he spoke again, his voice was so low that she had to lean close to hear him over the bar noise.
“Sometimes,” he said, his words floating to her on a hellish wash of body heat, “I feel like what I want, all I want, is that desperate, intense other. That I want her, the entire howling string of hers, so badly, so baldly, that there is no me.”
He smiled then. His curved lips were bitter. For himself? Or for the blown conquest? He went on. “But you can’t know what that’s like.”
“Can’t I?” she asked. “To be driven from man to man by a hunger so intense that you are invisible in broad daylight. Like there’s just them and the hunger. No you. And then they’re gone, and there’s just the hunger.”
Naked again, they looked away, clutching at the script, trying to read their prey’s eyes in the mirror, only to realize that each was as reflection free as the other.
She dipped one unnaturally strong nail in her drink and wrote an irregular “succubus” on the bar in gin. He dipped an equally supernal nail in the drink, and wrote “incubus” in turn.
The letters were distinct at the beginning, beside one another at the middle, and overlapping at the end. He leaned in to breathe upon the early letters. They dried up and faded away, like human understanding.
She read the results like a clue. Or an incantation. “U U B US,” she said slowly.
“Two yous BE us,” he said.
“Jinx,” he agreed. And the two immortal creatures of lust got their things and went home, to his place, to her place, to their place, where they lay beside one another content and intact, two selves in ecstatic relaxation, without any desire at all. Where they lived happily, ever, ever after.
Greg Beatty attended Clarion West in the summer of 2000. He’s had a number of short stories accepted since then. (For more information on his writing, visit his website) He supports his writing habit by teaching for the University of Phoenix Online. When he’s not at his computer, he enjoys cooking and practicing martial arts.
Art Director: Bonnie Brunish