That The Seasons May Turn

Her lips press against your skin like sun-warmed feathers, soft and gentle, lingering only long enough for the poison to soak in. Each kiss leaves you shivering against the dead field below you, fingers twitching against soil rendered cold and lifeless by winter's harsh grip—

You don't look at her.

The elders made that prohibition quite clear, before they sent you out to offer yourself up. Once they would have scooped out your eyes before leaving you for her to find, but now there are better ways and your vision was bad even before the acid's touch.

The sky above you is a vast expanse of empty white. The dim sun cowers against the horizon, shedding barely enough light to see by; in your eyes it's nothing more than a splotchy red.

Perhaps it's snowing and perhaps you're crying; whatever it is is cold against your cheeks.

Her kisses are so warm.

The sensation lingers longer with each one, long after her lips have moved on—a tingling warmth spreading up your arms and out through your chest, pooling in your hips and thighs and cheeks. A guilty, embarrassing warmth—

They didn't tell you what it would feel like.

They didn't tell you that she would fill you with such sparkling golden light as she leeches the last bits of strength from your body, that she'd make you quiver with urges you can't make yourself act on as her poison soaks in—

Perhaps they didn't know.

Their instructions were focused on the practical.

The land must be renewed, and an offering must be given: a life offered up. You were to be the seedbed which would kindle the hope of spring, the cycle of rot and growth pulling the seasons with it—

A treasured, sacred duty, given only to the village's most honored children.

Or their most disposable.

Even someone like you, someone who no one will miss, can serve a higher purpose.

If she knows then her kisses betray none of that knowledge; her poison flows regardless. The blush in your cheeks and between your thighs is full of the heat of rising decay, full of the desperation of the last moments before your heart finally stills and your blood thickens with all the strange new growths of your new purpose, your mouth struggling to shape words—

There's something warm against your cheek, hot and soft and dry, the sensation cutting through the tingling waves washing away your senses. There's something obscuring the sky's faint light, something looking down at you—a spreading blotch across your vision, hazy and obscure. It's her face, it must be her face—

You struggle to close your eyes, to look away. To obey the prohibition: to not look at her.

It should be so easy not to see.

But your eyelids don't answer and your eyes don't move and ... really, why does it matter? You'll be gone so soon. And you can hardly see her at all ...

She's beautiful even so.

She cups your cheek in her hand as she kisses you for the last time, her lips pressing against yours and her long tongue forcing itself into your slack mouth. Your body is so hot, burning with heat, with such need—

The last thing you feel before your body dies is something sweet and earthy against your tongue, cut through with her poison's prickly-bitter taste. A final kiss, a final gift, a final sacrifice—

Even after death the need remains, lingering long after she recedes. It pools within your corpse as you melt into the slowly warming ground, hungry and unsatisfied, bubbling up in a spew of multicolored mushrooms and a cascade of brightly colored flies and a longing stench calling to all the winter's carrion-eaters,[...]drawing them forth to worry at your guts and gnaw the softening flesh from your bones and spread your flesh in scraps of skin and well-digested shit, diffusing your existence through the field which is your grave (just as it was so many other sacrifices' graves before you).

The need remains even when you do not, until finally it stretches up from the soil in countless flowering vines and draws forth all the spring's fluttering helpers, bumbling bees and meandering butterflies and the night's careful moths, thick clouds of pollen filling the hot air—

And all through the summer's heat the need remains, swelling in ripening fruit and thickening squash, spreading and maturing and slowly, slowly reaching for its end—that long-awaited moment of satisfaction, that moment of climax when the world's heat will once again ebb away—

For the seasons must turn, from winter to spring to fall to winter again, and your sacrifice can only drive them forward for so long;

But at least for half a year the seasons turn upon you.

And when the last of you is gone she will be there waiting again.