My host’s soul was becoming bold. Ripping at her insides, shoving–nudging when she grew weak with effort–in the hope I would be dislodged from her body. A fine body it was. Velvety soft, dark skin, a dainty face sporting lips so plump they brought a new dimension to kissing. They didn’t feel enhanced, I thought, running my fingers across them.
Another surge of discomfort raked my abdomen.
“It’ll be no fun if you leave.” Isabella deposited a stack of burnt toast onto a plate and set it on the kitchen table. She slid into a seat next to me and snatched up a piece. Her eyes narrowed provocatively as she nibbled at it.
Her lips possessed a flirtatious curl, her skin pleasantly tanned from a lifetime under the Spanish sun. She might have been like any other beauty had it not been for her arresting aura. Something beyond the forces of nature drew me to her the previous night, our eyes not so much meeting as snapping to each other across the dance-floor of my frequented haunt.
“We could stay in,” she added. “All day.”
A surge of longing, far stronger than it should have been parted my lips to agree. But I sealed them. Had I been in my own body I wouldn’t have hesitated to continue the night’s plethora of sexual delights. This body, unlike the many others I had possessed during other nights of forbidden pleasures, held a fighting soul. A soul that battled for freedom until the exchange of caresses and kisses grew passionate. It appeared she had learned something about herself that night.
“I can’t,” I sighed, waving away an offered toast slice. “I have to get back.”
“To what?” she asked, raising her eyebrows at me.
Another pang of concern struck me from a different source. The kitchen clock’s luminous digits reminded me that I had little time to spare. My mother would no doubt have questions if she found my empty body in bed, and I would be hard pressed to lie to her about where I’d been.
I swallowed at the lump in my throat which stuck there, rigid. My brother had already unveiled the consequences of defying expectations. Years before, cast out of our Demonic coven in a whirlwind of fury and hatred, his sins unacceptable. Mine were no different and as such, neither would the consequences be. The memory sent a shiver through my shoulders I prayed Isabella would not notice.
I felt certain she meant for me to feel her slipping her number into my jeans pocket when she kissed me in the doorway.
“Let me know when you get tired of normal, again,” she whispered in my ear.
The door shut long before my daydreams turned back into thoughts. Another spiritual scrape from my host snapped me back to reality and I descended the apartment block, steps quickened. The girl’s soul thrashed inside me, churning my stomach, sensing she would soon be free.
Too early for commuters, the streets were empty but I searched for further seclusion. She would appreciate a solitary moment when I gave her back control. I chose a shadowed alley packed with industrial dumpsters, spilling over with kitchen waste.
I paused. Longing announced itself again, urging me to withdraw Isabella’s number from the pocket. Every fibre in my borrowed body urged me to run back, to stay not just the day but maybe the week. Forever, perhaps.
But the looming threat of abandonment stifled the fleeting wish. Even so, I spent a moment memorising the number. The stench of rancid tuna reached me, stifling the rotting turnips strewn at my feet. I found a shadowed corner and crouched out of sight. Eyes closed, I succumbed to the increasing pressure of the girl’s soul as it fought for space beside my own.
My lungs filled with air in their first real breath for hours and my eyelids pried themselves open, stinging with dryness. My room was always an unwelcome sight; pristine, uncluttered and lacking any character whatsoever, as my parents preferred their family home to be. A lock of dirty blonde hair fell across my face as I shimmied out of bed, a disappointing reminder that I was back in my pale, shapeless body.
I only ever picked the pretty ones. The sideways glances of admirers and jealous faces of the envious never materialised when I was in my own body. I didn’t envy the girls I possessed. The feeling of being invisible had its benefits. But I couldn’t deny the prideful rush that their attention triggered.
Reciting the number like a prayer, I seized a pad and pen and scribbled it down.
“Leona?” True to form, my mother knocked twice and failed to wait for an answer before entering. “What are you doing? Breakfast is ready.”
I stuffed the notepad into a desk drawer, only to retrieve it once my mother left, dressing with haste in case she chose to return and prompt me. The piece of paper, torn from the pad, found a place in the zipped pocket of my jacket as if it were home. I carried it like a talisman, providing an odd burst of life long forgotten. My fingers itched to unfold it and gaze at the numbers–the last link to the memory of a carefree, blissful night, in the hope it would stir the ecstasy again.
“So,” my mother said, plucking a strawberry from her pancake stack. “Isn’t it about time you found a boyfriend?”
Rosanna Bates was born in Worcester, England. Her childhood was spent reading, writing stories she was too embarrassed to show anyone and attending her local “Writing Squad”. She graduated from Lancaster University with a degree in Psychology in 2012 and recently travelled to South America, Cambodia and China. She is a member of the LGBTQ community as a bisexual woman.