Inspiration

We spoke often about “the book”, how we could turn the doctorate paper into an interesting story for a wider public. Inga thought I should keep to the main theme, the reality of people in the land, their hopes and changing destinies. I was tempted to seek some fictional inspiration from our lives, from my encounter with the Lady of the Forest, from what I had already learnt with Inga. Indeed my interest, as I was working on the thesis, had been maintained because of our discussions, my discoveries, the magic of the owl, Inga’s mystery. Ursula had suggested something much more commercial, some sort of rewrite of the paper with fictional characters, something I totally dismissed. I wanted 17th century Brandenburg to be the stage, the background to something real, a tragedy. I was also aware that Inga was not so keen on Ursula’s influence, or obvious interest in the project. We did not speak about it at first, then gradually she shared her unease about Ursula’s smooth way of making herself indispensable. I understood very well. Ursula was American through and through, pragmatic, and ultimately interested only in what she saw as a profitable outcome: another potential best-seller. Of course she was very experienced and knowledgeable about all things publishing, and I wanted, needed that expertise too.
I started working on what we quickly dubbed as “the inspired version”, with Inga reading, commenting, criticising and being my public. It was now late February, B** was grey on most days, with sometime bright sunshine that did not last very long. We visited the owl, took long walks at night in the woods, slept till late in the morning. Our own relationship deepened, together with the length of our love-making. We went back to the lake, swimming in what felt merely like cool water. The air around us smelled of pine and fresh rain. I continued with my jobs at the Uni, with an increased number of students. My mentor wanted me to apply for a more permanent post, but I was in no hurry: the book came first. Ursula wrote with more advice, and an offer of a writers’ sabbatical in Colorado that she would attend in the late summer.

I did not rush to reply but Inga and I were clear I would not go. Then, the world collapsed around us. One morning, which for us was around 11am, we heard the first official warning about the infection. I knew enough biology and chemistry to understand it was serious. We spoke, and decided we’d stay home for now, and limit our outings to the woods, which was not very different from what we usually did. Inga was worried for her aunt and grand parents. She spoke with Ewa and Marco. We would take our share of work at the farm.
Soon the Uni was closed down, as well as most of the schools and public places. I had no longer any reason to go to the city. B** was quiet, with even less traffic than usual. Our next door neighbour asked us to do his shopping for him when we did ours, which was no problem. We worked on the novel, listened to recorded concerts, read many books. We visited the owl, and Inga talked with her for several hours. As we were back home and going to bed she said the owl had told her there would be many dead humans soon. We read early academic reports on the disease. We wore disposable gloves when we went out although not in the woods. We kept to ourselves.


We had hints of Spring, some days the sun was really warm, but the nights stayed fresh. Inga wanted to speak with the bats, but the little friends remained elusive. She said she thought we were immune, without adventuring to say why. I was bemused by the speed of the infection spread. Still we continued with the novel, which was now developing well. I wrote most days over two thousand words, mostly at night, while Inga continued with her editing and still more research from books and online. We shopped once a week, for ourselves and our neighbour. The town, or at least the streets, were almost deserted. One morning Inga told me about her strange dream, how she’d woken up in a foreign room, and I started asking myself questions about how the total isolation we lived in affected us. The weirdest stories circulated about the virus, its origins, a sinister plan of world-wide domination, and worse. I had no longer any contact with my university colleagues nor students, everything was closed. 

La prisonnière

That morning, it was well after everywhere was locked down, I woke up and was looking for you. I had been dreaming, about myself, in another place, far away, foreign. I cannot pinpoint what I was doing there, for a while I was asleep, in a small cluttered room, some sort of study with a narrow couch. When I woke up, a man was sitting, his back to me, working at a desk on a computer. It was still dark, a nearly full moon, bright as diamond, was high in the January sky. I felt sympathy for the man, perhaps even more, as if he was someone I knew. The man was typing at a keyboard, I could hear him sigh a few times. I cannot tell you what he was writing. I decided to move, picked up my clothes, tidied the couch where I’d slept and went out. I was back here, I don’t think that man noticed me going.

Image: Rimel Neffati

Inga

Rimel

 

Yes, this is me, Inga, for once holding the pen. Of course I read your journal: you have no secret for me, and I enjoy reliving those haunted years, when we met, and after we met, when we were discovering each other. At that point, when you had just finished your thesis, you were poised to become what your fate was to be, a great writer. You did not know it then, but I did. The thesis was about the fight of local farm labourers against the abusive landowners who employed them, in the background of various attempts at land reforms, started by the Great Elector, as early as the 1650s, in this part of the world, then extending from the Brandenburg Mark to the East, Koenigsberg and Lithuania. What was to become Prussia, was then not yet a kingdom. The thirty-year war had ravaged the land. The subject was austere, but enlivened by local anecdotes, about legends and local heroes. The first reader outside academia, and myself, was my grand-father Hans. Then there was Ursula. They were enthusiastic, which encouraged you to start work on a wider public version, that which later became your first bestseller. But then, as Ursula came to visit us in B**, you were not sure yet it was the right thing for you to do. You wanted some quiet time, and explore the story of my great grand-father, Hans I.
I wanted to help, but I was myself skeptic, about how true the whole story was, and about the link between Hans I’s adventures during the war in the Caucasus, and the accident that killed my parents. On the other hand I felt that I had inherited some of Hans’ unusual gifts, such as communicating with other living creatures, birds and small, or not so small, mammals.

It was Ursula, who came and stayed in Berlin for several weeks, that convinced you to start your writing career in earnest. I must say that I suspected her interest to be not only your talent, but also you, as a person. Nonetheless we had long conversations about your thesis, the short fiction from you she knew about, Arizona, her own childhood in Sachsen, the war, and, ultimately, Hans’ s story. She was an interesting, passionate person. Her German was tainted with a slight New Jersey accent, and although no longer a young person, her sex-appeal was evident to me. We talked through long evenings, in our flat in B**, in Berlin, in Neuruppin in northern Havelland which we visited together as she wished to see die Fontanestadt.
She had an in-depth knowledge of northern Arizona and of the culture of the people who lived there. This came from early visits to the South-West she’d made when she first came to the US, and from her vast reading. She talked about the Mesas, where the local tribes had found refuge from the invading Spaniards. You were fascinated. She lent us books about the Hopis and the Navajos, and some notes she’d taken when travelling in northern Arizona, about the Painted Desert and the fossil trees of that area. She turned out to be also a very good photographer, as she invited us to visit her collections online. There were pictures of the New York streets, of the East Coast and of the South-West, Colorado and Arizona. Much later, you told me that Ursula had published several photography books, some of them erotic, and that you got interested in those. I think that she helped you working out what to do with the thesis material. But I was not unhappy when she went back to America, I felt, in a strange way, liberated. I don’t believe I was jealous, rather I feared her influence on you. For me Ursula was just a little too urbane, sophisticated, and, yes, not really German.

Image: Rimel Neffati

Symbiosys

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I became aware of subtle changes in my metabolism. But first the transformation taking place in the appearance of Inga became visible. She was still the beautiful lady of the forest, more so even, since we shared the same lust for blood. Her breasts grew a little heavier, and I admitted to her I had wondered if she were pregnant. To that she smiled, and said she was always in control of her body, and it was the plain truth. My sense of smell was becoming more discerning, to the extent that I could find Inga, by her scent, in a crowd of people (we avoided densely packed spaces, and visited town mainly at night. Yet we once lost each other at the opera – we both loved the classics – and I found her at once through the throng, following her scent.) I realised also, at the dojo, that my physical strength was growing steadily. My coach told me one day to moderate the energy I was putting into throws, or face exclusion from the club. I was astounded.
Inga came with me on errands through town, and she did it to be with me, for she was no city lover. In town she wore the most discrete of her garments, making herself unnoticeable, anonymous, her hair covered with a scarf, or wearing a dark hat. Yet I was wondering if others, some others, saw us for what we were. Were they others like us? She really liked only the oldest parts of the city, the churches and cemeteries we could visit, the parks, and in there, the most solitary places. We would sit on a bench, out of sight, she sitting on my lap, facing me, her legs around my waist, kissing for ever. She was interested in the old Jewish cemetery in Weißensee, which we visited many times. We could have been hindered by closed gates, as we tended to go out after dusk, but we became experts at opening locks and climbing walls. She knew some parts of the city, mainly north and east, that were unfashionable and somehow neglected. We visited the museums, her favourite was die alte Gemäldegalerie, where we would spend hours looking at medieval paintings. Inga was fascinated by the Magdalena by Meister der Mansi.
Winter was approaching. Our apartment had changed too: many more plants, the smell of herbs and old wax candles. Our love making became longer, slower, and at one with our feeding on each other. The perfection of it was no longer troubling, I was living in a dream. At one stage I may have had doubts about our right to behave the way we did with each other. For a while I even felt guilty for the way Inga was: hadn’t I caused her to became what she was? Was I her persecutor? Her family looked healthy and “normal”. I admitted finally that we – Inga and me – were not. We were outsiders. But she could read my mind, her eyes were telling me we should enjoy our lives, the way we wanted to live, that we were independent, even if different, that we were beautiful. I gradually realised we were now communicating with fewer words, and then always in dialect. But we were still reading to each other, late, until we fell asleep, rarely before dawn.
A few weeks after our visit to Marco and Viktoria, one late morning, as we were slowly waking up, we talked about the wolves. I was saying how extraordinarily beautiful they had appeared to me. Inga was silent for a while. Then she said: “They are family too.” And then added: “I want you to meet them, closer.” We worked the rest of the day, on my research, on her journal, planning the trip we had decided to make to the deep forest. In our daily life I no longer saw myself as Inga’s lover, but as part of her, another side of the being she was, and so it was, we anticipated each other’s gesture, desire, appetite, we were achieving symbiosis.

Picture: Mansi-Magdalena, By Master of the Mansi Magdalen – Bildindex der Kunst und Architektur: object 02554021 – photograph number gg3356_005 – image file gg3356_005a.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35673827

Pflügen

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I had questions about Inga’s earlier life, but did not ask them, no more than Inga questioned me about what I had done before meeting her. We knew that knowledge, in the wonderful medieval sense of the word, was a matter of patience. One evening, toward the end of October, she said she wanted to stay home, and talk. We’d had a busy day, with little sleep, me working on the thesis, her doing some research for me (Inga was incredibly clever at digging out bits of local history that would certainly have escaped me), and looking after the “garden” on the balcony. We had a frugal meal. Indeed I was getting slimmer, some would have said, leaner. The diet had something to do with it, but also the fact that I was training harder than ever, and had Inga to collect her due.

She said that she’d been brought up by Ewa, with her adopted cousin, Marco. Ewa and her husband, Karl, had adopted Marco, just before the accident that caused Inga’s parents death. Inga and Marco grew up, together, helping on the farm, attending the same school. Inga said they were very close, inseparable. One day, when she was fifteen, which was also Marco’s age, they lost their virginity to each other. Ewa was not happy about it. Marco later married. Inga wanted me to meet him and his wife, Viktoria. As a child and young adult he had been a great hunter, but Inga had converted him, he was now the president of “Farmers for Wolves”, an association that promoted the re-adaptation of wolves into the forests of North Brandenburg. Inga said I would like her cousins. We decided to travel to Ewa’s farm just before dawn, and meet Marco there. I did the dishes, Inga got busy mending her clothes. We then had a short sleep. In the middle of the night Inga wanted to drink, half awake I held her over me, and offered my neck to her teeth. This is how dawn found us, as one, her mouth half open around my skin, her beloved arms around me.

We showered and got ready for the hour long ride to Ewa’s farm. Inga knew ways out of the city, through the old part of what had been the East side. Soon we were riding along a route I knew now well, through woods and past small lakes. It had rained during the night and the air was beautifully clean. I could sense Inga’s happiness, we kissed and nearly fell off our bikes. I was intrigued at the prospect of meeting Marco, and did not know really what to expect. We arrived at Ewa’s house at the time the estate was waking up. Ewa of course was up and working in the big kitchen, we kissed. “Marco will be here soon. He said he would drive out with you, to show you something you’d never seen…” Inga was smiling. We drank some milk. Inga explained she’d help her aunt while Marco and me got to know each other.

Marco arrived, his place was nearby, and his car was the 4×4 I had noticed in Ewa’s yard at our first visit. He was a giant of a man, towering over my 1.9m, a muscular colossus. His hand shake was firm but light, his smile extraordinarily friendly. I was delighted at his obvious approval when we started talking in dialect. He explained we would later all meet at his place, when I would meet Viktoria. As Inga had said he wanted to take me to a wood nearby to show me a “miracle”. So we walked to the car and he started driving gently along a narrow country lane. He said his mother, Ewa, and him now owned a big chunk of the land around us. He had specialised in a few crops, while keeping some cattle, and also replanting trees. He asked me about my work, and what I was researching. He said he had old papers from his dad, Ewa’s husband, that he would share with me. We were progressing slowly along the old lane, and I realised the 4×4 was no luxury. Marco was navigating carefully between big holes on the ground. Then he stopped the car in view of a wood, which appeared to extend far to the East. “We have to wait now. I meet them often here, but today we may or may not see them. It depends on their mood.” We chatted about his work, the association, about the politics of farming in his country. He was a reflecting, experienced man, and he asked me several questions about the West side that showed he was well aware of the broader politics. He told me about the forests, and the fight to keep the wolves alive. At this point, he pulled out of the car side box a pair of binoculars. “I can’t say I know how they know, but they know this is my car! They also know I am not on my own…” He looked though the binoculars for an instant then pointed to me where to look. I adjusted the lenses, scanned the edge of the wood, as Marco had indicated. I nearly missed them, and then I saw: they were well camouflaged and were both looking straight at us: a pair of grey wolves, evidently a couple. We remained silent. Then Marco said: “They are safe there, these fields and the woods belong to me and Ewa. The neighbours are mostly believers in conservation, and those who are not know they would have to deal with me if they took a potshot at those!” He laughed. The wolves must have heard his laugh, they slowly stood up, turned round with a last look at the car and us, and then disappeared in the wood. “We are not doing too badly, Marco said, we now have this couple, and another two to three in the immediate neighbourhood. The sheep farmers are worried, but we organise their defense, and the losses are minimum. Still it’s a struggle at times.” He was driving now to his place, talking about his business and how lucky he was to be married to Viktoria. 

The farm house was impressive, an old building from before the first war, beautifully restored. In the yard stood another 4×4, and a powerful off-road motorcycle. Viktoria welcomed us, and held me in her arms. She was Germania, a tall, blond woman in her thirties, with the figure of an athlete. We started talking about the country, the city, the farm, the wolves. She said Ewa and Inga were in the kitchen doing lunch. Marco laughed: “Is it safe?” Viktoria pushed me gently to enter, past a large hall a double door led to the day room, and through it, to the kitchen. I heard Inga’s voice, she and Ewa were laughing. Inga turned round as we entered ran to me and kissed me, hard, on the mouth. “So, you met the masters of the country! Are you impressed?” I said I was, and I guessed it was proof of the good work the association had done. We all then started taking about the wild, the wolves, the birds, the beauty of the woods. Marco was serving what I thought was a strong Apfelwein. Inga and Viktoria were bringing dishes to the long table. “Welcome in our family!” Said Ewa. We toasted, to the wild, to the Vaterland, to us. Marco mentioned the papers he thought may be of interest to my thesis. Inga embarked on a description of what the thesis was about. Ewa asked her difficult questions and tried to trip her, without malice. We laughed. Later, as I offered to help I was kicked out of the kitchen, and Marco took me for a visit to the farm. It was a serious business. To the usual crop and cattle activity Marco had running an entire business of bio food delivery, to individuals and restaurants, and a vast plant for refrigeration. We talked finance and balance sheet. Viktoria was a shrewd finance director. 

Dawn was breaking when we took the road back home. I was thinking of how normal Inga’s family was. Good, hard-working people, close to the land, open-minded. So was Inga. She was reading my mind: “Yes, she said laughing, I’m the weird child….” When we reached the city I thought of Hans, and the great wolf, in the Caucasus. 

Image: beim Pflügen, source

L’amour fou

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Sleeping with her that night, that is falling asleep holding her, then, much later, waking up slowly with her over me, her mouth on mine, my sex inside her, changed my life forever. She started reorganising the house to her image, brought plants, planted herbs on the balcony, brought more books. In the meantime I submitted my paper, which was accepted. A few days later my sponsor asked me to apply for a post of research assistant, German history, and proceed to a doctorate. I accepted. This finally meant financial independence, and the subject I proposed, which was immediately endorsed, was “Population and agrarian reforms in eighteen century Brandenburg, through the local literature”, which was as close to my interests as one could get.

Inga asked me to come out with her in her night errands. Because my work was now letting me organise my time as I wished, I adapted my day, and night, to her needs. We slept from dawn till late morning. Inga then worked in the house, cooked, took care of the plants, helped me in my research. At dusk we rode out on our bikes, well covered up as the weather had by then turned colder. She took me through paths I’d never have found by myself. We went through dark woods, small lost villages. Sometime she asked me to stay hidden behind, for her friends, owls, mammals of all types, wild boars, and once a big grey wolf, were suspicious. I was to be patient, trust had to be won. We explored each other, mentally and physically. She had no inhibition, she had no fear. She led our sex life, inventive, forever seeking me, provoking me even, in a way that enslaved me to her and her wishes. She drank from me, sometime without sex, most of the time absorbing me inside, sinking into her. From time to time I’d reassert my maleness, pinned her down on her back, licking her exquisite thighs and vulva to orgasm and then penetrating her in full force, for ages. She was then silent, then laughing, then she was thirsty, and it was my turn to submit to her will and desire.

She read stories, I read her more stories. My knowledge of her dialect improved every day. She was now holding a journal, she said, for her aunt to know about our life. Still from time to time, alone, she would go away at dusk for the night, coming back at dawn, tired, smelling of earth and wood fire. I never asked questions.

She took me to meet her aunt. Her name was Ewa. The farm was ancient, well maintained, and very isolated. There were woods and fields, all round, modern equipment and a big SUV in the barn. A wildfire was burning in the huge chimney. Ewa was amazingly beautiful, still dark haired, wily, asking questions and scrutinising this young man, who somehow had seduced her girl, or was seduced by her. A huge shepherds dog came around and identified me. We had Apfelwein and Pretzel, spoke about the province, about the farm, the weather, my work. She was interested in my thesis, and I realised she was a well educated, knowledgeable lady. We spoke about the Wende, the properties her family had to leave there, on the other side of the river. Inga was mostly silent. Ewa invited me to come back, and said she was sure I’d look after Inga. I said to her that Inga was my life. She smiled and kissed me on the cheek.

It was already late as we rode back, and Inga led us to the clearing where we had first met. “I want you to drink from me,” she said, and pulled from her bag a small pen knife. “Let me do a small cut, as you don’t know yet how to do it without killing me…”, she laughed. Then I heard the owl. We sat, Inga and me, as we had that night. She turned to me, her head at an angle: “I cut, then you put your lips straightaway against the cut.” She did, I seized her head, pulled her towards me, gently, and started sucking. Her body went limp, I was full of fear, but as her blood started flowing in my mouth, as I was holding her tight, I swore to myself to marry her, to die for her. I stopped sucking after a few minutes. I licked her wound. It was a strange feeling, I felt as if I was seeing myself through her eyes. She looked at me, kissed me on the mouth. The green eyes were sparkling. We rode home slowly and went straight to bed, she and I, naked, enlaced, as one body. I dreamed she was the male, and she was penetrating me, asking to drink. Later she woke up, woke me up and we made wild love. The following morning, as she was still asleep, I had hallucinations. Inga was riding the owl, Ewa was telling me to cook the mushrooms, I had landed in another world. I went to the kitchen and made coffee. Inga had collected some fruit, bread and veggies at Ewa’s farm. I’d wait till she awoke. I went to our room, Inga was asleep, softly calling me. I lied next to her, took her in my arms, and fell asleep again, holding her tight. We slept, as one, for another two hours. When she woke, she said “I’m thirsty”, and she drank from me for a long time. We stayed in bed, kissing, flirting, licking, and then got up and made breakfast. I was little unsteady, and Inga said: “It will pass, have a rest when you want, I’ll look after the house!” I kissed her, on the eyes, in the mouth, on the neck. Then I fell on my knees, and licked her vulva, my mouth at time full of her black hair. 

Picture: Albertinum, Dresden

Une ou deux choses que je sais d’elle

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The following day, as I was waking up, Inga walked in my room. She was carrying a small rucksack, had rosy cheeks, and smelled of fresh air and wood fire. She almost smothered me, jumping on the bed and laughing. Out of her bag, which seemed to contain clothes and a few books, she pulled a box which was full of forest fruits. “Today I make breakfast!” She declared. She did. It was a delight. I made coffee, we had the fruits with a little milk and some cornflakes. She said she had seen her aunt, who asked her who I was. She smiled mischievously: “I told her, my new victim!” Then she realised what she’d said, and came to sit on my lap, covering me with kisses. Now the red lips tasted of fruit and milk. “I am no victim, I said, or, if I were, a willing one…” We were now serious.

Her eyes were asking, and I knew what she wanted: she was thirsty. We went back to the room, I lied flat on my back, she came over me, her hands behind my head, and I took the position she wanted. I realised then that I wanted her to drink from me, more than anything else, even more than sex. I felt her tongue on my skin, then her teeth. I held her tighter. She had a small shiver and started drinking. Eyes closed, I kissed her forehead, the green eyes were almost invisible. This time we stayed like this for a long time. She went to sleep almost immediately afterwards. She was still all dressed for the ride, with her boots on. I took my time and undressed her, taking the shoes off first, then her frock, then her top. She was wearing delicious old-fashioned underwear, which I peeled off, admiring once again the delicacies of her body. She did not wake up, in fact she was snoring a little. I wrapped her up in the top sheet and a light blanket. Then I went to the bath room, looked at the bite, and felt elated, and hungry. I washed, went to the kitchen for coffee and more fruit.

I was working for the next four hours, and Inga did not wake up for another two hours. In the meantime I got things for her, towels, some toiletries, and a ring for her keys. I made space in the bathroom and our room for her clothes. As the previous day, in the evening, she appeared, naked, behind me, warm and wanting to be held. We kissed, long and close. I then told her to get dressed. We would go to the park, and then come back to prepare dinner. She had brought some clothes, simple things she could wear in town. She showed me her books, explained they were from where her family came from originally, on the other side of the Oder, in a region which is now Polen. I said that I’d very much like her to read to me. She said she would, she’d like that a lot, and also she wanted to know about my stories. We went out and walked to the park, which was a pleasant ten minutes walk on a quiet street. She held my arm, and we fell into steps, naturally. Inga wore a warm jumper and some training trousers, her hair held in a band. We ran, she climbed a tree, started acrobatics on exercise machines that she found on the side of the path. She was quick as silver, her body a marvel of suppleness, and strength. She was very skilled at the fixed bar, and laughed at my efforts to emulate her. I was deep in love. She wanted to walk all round the park, and I enjoyed holding her, kissing her as we went. In the early evening light her eyes reflected the strikes of colours in the sky. We went back, her arm around my waist, mine around her shoulder. I thought of the owl, and she, reading my mind, said: “I will tell you all, about my friends, about the woods, about where I came from. And about why I am thirsty for you…” I was silent, we got to the house, we kissed, enlaced. I started preparing dinner in the kitchen, she went to the bathroom, had a shower, came back to me wearing a wonderful old night shirt, and nothing else. She said: “tonight I’m staying with you.” The calm green eyes were on me, and what I felt then, was that I wanted to drink from her.

Longing

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I must have slept for perhaps an hour. I woke up when it was brighter outside. Next to me, rolled in a small ball, was the lady of the forest, in a such a deep sleep that I had to take her pulse. It was beating, very slowly, but strong. I got up, made sure she was well covered up under a light blanket, and tightened the curtains. I had a shower, made coffee, and set down to work. Soon, I was starving. I made breakfast, drank more coffee. It was only eight o’clock. The sky was grey. I checked in the mirror, this time the mark on my neck was deeper. I smiled. The humorist in me was saying: so you met the girl with green eyes, who speaks with an owl, wears victorian underwear, and vampirises you after superlative sex! I smiled, it was like that, wasn’t it?
I worked for two hours, then I checked on my visitor again. I think I knew she would sleep until sunset. Just before then, the skies cleared up and there was bright sunshine through the study window. I heard nothing but suddenly knew she was behind me. I stood up, she fell in my arms, naked, offered, the green eyes looking up at me, a beauty out of this world. I lifted her up in my arms, her long hair all over me. We stayed immobile and silent, for a long time. It soon was dusk. Outside the street lights lit up, night would soon be with us. I held her tighter. Finally I said: “This is a home for you, I am in love with you.” And so it was. She went to the bathroom, came out after a long shower, wearing my bathrobe which was way too big for her. I offered to dry her hair, and she smiled, then we had another long kiss. She’d given me more than any other woman had, since my birth. I sensed her fragility, her longing, and I knew she had recognised mine. She said she was vegetarian, only ate fruit and fresh vegetables, a little milk. I made dinner. She watched me, intense, the green eyes eating me up. Then she told me about her life, as we ate.
She’d been born in a farming family, in a village not far from where we had met. She was christened Inga. Inga was early working on the farm, and attended school. Her parents had died, in a horrific fire caused by a storm when she was very little. Her aunt, her mother’s sister, had then looked after her, and there, in her aunt’s house, was where she stayed till now. She slept often during the day, unless she was working, helping neighbours on their farms, and spent much time in the forests, at night. She felt guilty toward me, and said, pressing herself against me, that she felt very close to me, that I was unlike other men she’d known. We kissed again at that point. I did not ask about the bite. There was time. I guessed there was more to her than this simple enough story. I remembered the owl. We spoke late into the night. Then she said she wanted to go back to the woods, and would come back the next morning. I gave her a key, and the key to the bikes’ lock, and said she could keep the phone if she needed to call me. She looked at me, silent for another long time. We kissed again, she went to get dressed. Then she went.
I was still hungry, made more food, poured myself a whisky. Yes, I had fallen in love with the lady of the forest, with Inga. I did not really understand who she was, and where her blood lust came from. She had told me nothing about it. I wasn’t clear about her age either. I only knew I wanted her to be back, soon.

Image source

Die Fähe

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For the next four weeks I was busy working on my dissertation. At weekends I only had time for a short ride through the parks, or around a nearby lake, a place where I, and many locals, visited in summer, for a long swim. It was now getting colder, as this longitude the end of October marks the onset of winter. My work was progressing well, so I started thinking of visiting my sister in London. Yet, at the back of my mind, I kept reflecting on my strange encounter with the lady in the forest. My memory of her was vivid, so much so that every day at sunset I felt a strong urge to see her again. I thought I would not, but I was mistaken.
It was one very early morning, I had decided to finish off the first draft of my paper, had made coffee, showered, and I was about to set down to work. At that very instant the land line telephone rang. I was surprised, for very few people had the number. Even more surprising was the fact that the calling number was none other than my mobile number, the phone I had lost in the forest. It was her voice, sounding strangely close: she wanted to return the phone, said she had a debt to repay, was at the entrance door. I was stunned. Her dialect sounded stronger than I remembered it. In a daze I rushed downstairs. She was standing at the door holding her bike, a very stylish old ladies bike. She wore no longer a cape but a short warm jacket and worn blue jeans. In the dim pre-dawn light she also wore dark glasses. I repressed the urge to take her in my arms. In this urban setting she seemed lost. I helped her to lock her bike in the courtyard next to mine, took her hand and led her upstairs. Her hand was warm, I could feel the skin of a manual worker. At my door she stood still, threw her arms around my neck, and after taking off her glasses, looked deep into my eyes. Hers were dimmed, as if the green light I remembered so well had been turned down.

I took her in my arms and carried her inside, closing the door. She looked around, seeming to take in the details of my place. Freeing herself of my grip she kissed me on the cheek. I offered coffee, which was declined, but she accepted a glass of water. I invited her to look around and admire the view from my window which gave over on the park. Her scent was of autumn leaves and wood fire. She took off her jacket and asked for the toilet. I drank some coffee. My mind was in turmoil, unsure of what to do, vaguely aroused. She was standing behind me, holding my phone. “I found it in the woods, close to where we met.” I was thinking that she had also somehow worked out the password and found my address. I looked at her, she did look tired, and a little older than I remembered her. She asked me to take her to my room. I hesitated. I was suddenly anxious, very unsure of what she wanted. What was the “debt” she had mentioned?
In my room the curtains were still drawn, so it was quite dark, with just a little ray of morning sun filtering through. She quitted her glasses, then came close to me. “I want to give you a gift, she said, but if you want me to go, just say, and I will. I took advantage of you the other evening in the woods, so I want to be pardoned.” I had no idea as to what she meant. I merely said: “You don’t have to be pardoned for anything, For me it was a delightful encounter, and I want to thank you for leaving this note for me, otherwise I would have spent the night in the woods!” We stood, face to face, for some time. Then she kissed me on the mouth, pressing her small body against me. With slow gestures, her green eyes suddenly brighter, she started undoing the buttons of my shirt. Paralysed I was looking at her, and I was soon naked in front of her, not embarrassed, but still uncertain. She gestured me to lie down, then slowly stripped, carefully folding her clothes on a chair. Her body was exquisitely sculpted by exercise and living in the open, but her skin was very pale. She had a flat belly, small but firm breasts and bottom cheeks, I also noticed she did not shave at all: she had long hair under her arms, and around her vulva. Her limbs were muscled and beautifully shaped. I was lying on my back, half erect, as she came over me, the green eyes deep into mine. Expertly she guided me into her vagina. I understood she did not want any foreplay, nor me wearing a sheath: the lady meant business. Yet there was something else. She started contracting her vagina’s muscles, and I realised she had full control of her body. I was hypnotised. She held my head in both her hands, I saw only her red lips, and as she smiled, her small shining teeth. She was contracting slowly, releasing me and contracting again, at a slow rhythm. I felt myself grow inside her, as each of her move seemed to pull me in deeper. I held her tighter, feeling her strong heart beat. Her lips were on my neck, caressing. With her hands she was lightly pushing my head sideways. Confused images flooded my mind: the owl, the great oak, a sinking feeling. Her body motion had accelerated a little. I could feel her own arousal, and suddenly I knew what she wanted. I yielded to the pressure of her hand as she opened her mouth on my skin. It was a strange, unreal feeling. I was close to orgasm, and I was certain she was too. I knew what was happening now: I only felt the moment her teeth broke in, and she started drinking. Her body went hard in my arms, a long spasm shook us both, as, together, we came. She was drinking me, and I felt myself sinking deeper into her.

Die Eule

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I was in my last university year, preparing for a master in German Literature and History. Besides my academic work I enjoyed exploring the country, once called eastern Germany – Ostdeutschland sounded so much better – on my bike. At weekend I used to cover long distances, on the wonderful cycling tracks, or, sometimes off those well marked routes, usually taking a train back to the city. My home was in the oldest, slightly wild, part of the city, in a beautiful pre war building that had miraculously escaped from the “Sanierung”, the destructive renovation craze that swept the city for decades. There, I inhabited a spacious fourth floor apartment that was ideal for a romantic, yet busy student and athlete. During the week I frequented a local dojo, and kept myself fit. At that time, there was no woman in my life, part from my sister and a distant aunt who both lived far away. I was reading intensely, and had started publishing short stories in local literary journals. With the income form a small inheritance from my parents, it was enough to pay the rent, and live frugally.

That weekend I had done a long loop to the North and East of Brandenburg. It was late autumn, still warm during the day, and luminous. But I had left the beaten track, and followed an ancient path, evidently not much used, that snaked through a thick forest. The trees were old and magnificent. I was in love with the woods, and enjoyed listening to the many birds and small animals who lived there. It was getting late, at the time of year when the sunset suddenly explodes, and darkness comes quickly. I stopped for a little water and to rest my legs, at a small clearing. Soon I heard an owl. It was unmissable, but the owl was not hunting nor flying, she sounded like she was talking to someone, in a low voice, very closed to where I stood. I located her voice coming from a large oak tree nearby. The light was beginning to fade, but I managed to see the owl, sitting still on a high branch and looking down at the foot of the tree. There it was dark, but I finally recognise a shape, a human shape. It was a woman, a small woman, dark haired and wearing a sort of cape, also sitting cross-legged and looking up at the owl, or so I guessed. As I approached slowly she must have heard my steps, and turned her head towards me. Her regular face was amazing, a young face, yet looking much wise, with pale green eyes that fixed me with intensity, and lips of bright carmin. Her hair was dark and flowed in waves around her shoulders. She was no tramp, but a well dressed young lady who wore old-fashioned but elegant boots, and was displaying very shapely legs above them. I was surprised, but managed to smile. The owl was silent. Then I heard her voice, a melodious low voice, speaking the local dialect, which I understood well:

“It is late for a city dweller to haunt these woods, stranger. Are you lost?”

I was not sure what to say. I came nearer, my mind a mixture of curiosity and amazement. “This is very kind. Yes, I got a bit off the track. But I heard the owl. Are you two talking? In which case I must apologise for the disruption.” She laughed, evidently amused at my speech. “Not at all. My friend up there, and I, are always interested in meeting new people…” I came closer and sat next to her. “But, she continued, don’t wait too long, I will show you how you can get back to the main road, for soon it will get very dark.” Her voice was enticing. She was looking straight at me, turned toward me. Her eyes were catching the dying light. I knew this was a special instant. Who was she? Did she live in the woods? Was she really talking with the owl? We stayed silent, and I cannot tell now for how long. The night was soon all around us. I heard a rustle of small feet, then I must have fallen asleep for some time. When I came back to reality, it was pitch dark. I felt I had been bitten by some insect on the side of my neck. The young woman was no longer there, but there was a note pinned to my shirt, a carefully drawn small diagram showing which way I should go from where I was. I stood up, my bike was where I had left it, my rucksack still hanging from it. I looked at my watch: I must have been in the clearing for not longer than one hour. I had good lights and followed the diagram. It was very precise, and half an  hour later I was back on the path I had to take to get home. 

I felt hungry. I cooked myself some eggs and mixed a salad. I had a glass of wine. I was pondering my experience in the woods. The face of the young woman in the woods was still in my sight. I went to the bathroom for a shower, and I used some balm on the skin of my neck. It wasn’t hurting. There was a mark, as if small but very sharp teeth had bitten the surface of my skin. I slept soundly, without dream. The following morning the mark had disappeared. 

I also discovered my phone was missing from my bag. I might have dropped it, there, in the clearing. I went to my first lecture.

Picture: Waldohreule, source