The Voluptas Butterfly is an unusual romance about the magical power of longing. It’s from “Beguiling” - my forthcoming collection of urban fantasy short stories and songs. Working on the collection is a supreme pleasure, as I get to unleash a way of working with words that songwriting doesn’t often permit–yet songwriting is probably where my rebellious metaphors come from!
Anyway- for now, in the excerpt below, I’d love you to meet Emma– a shy Goth beauty from Santa Monica, and the object of her desire: professor and Indian English author, Devendra…
The Voluptas Butterfly – an excerpt
Voluptas: satisfaction, enjoyment, pleasure, delight (whether sensual or spiritual; syn. oblectamentum).
Devendra Sarin stood wishing the podium would open up and kindly eat him. The Events Room at the Santa Monica Barnes & Noble would be as good a place as any for him to rest in peace. They’d be fine mourners—this smattering of listless attendees, slumped in their chairs, eyes cast down over their phones. Under the unforgiving wash of fluorescent lights the lanky, young author’s olive skin looked sallow. His dark eyes searched for safety in his notes and even his Adam’s apple ducked for cover as he swallowed hard. Devendra cleared his throat and bravely forged ahead with the talk he’d prepared to promote his book, “The Anatomy Of Personal And National Debt: An Analysis Of Capitalism And Desire.”
Desire. It’s faithful. Devendra’s most faithful secret admirer, Emma, sat erect—hers the only enthusiastic spine in the room. A spine enjoying the tingle of focused attention as Emma let Devendra’s expensive New-Delhi-via-London boarding school accent wrap around her. It walked her beyond wrought iron gates into a cool shroud of mist. Each clipped word, every melodious syllable and exacting consonant arrived in her ears reassuringly, lulling her into a time and place with no trailer parks, no drawled slang leaking from the crevices of shrunk minds, no reality TV numbness. Just scotch served neat at 6:00 p.m., measured conversation over dinner at 8:00 p.m. and, outside in the generous darkness, green lawns that stretched forever.
And so, Devendra’s words laced up around her. Strapped in by vowels and consonants Emma thought, “Mmm, tighten your hold…” and a fist of black butterflies opened inside her rib cage. Testing their wings. Testing her walls. The fortitude of boundaries is often sensed in silence—beneath the flicker of a small, forced smile like her own. To the common glance Emma was just another committed Goth chick, a darkly pretty droid of a Barnes And Noble store clerk, an aloof fringe dweller. That she was hard to miss but easy to refrain from approaching was quite an accomplishment. She’d spent years refining her spiked façade. Behind it Emma could simmer in private, unfulfilled ecstasy. She sat simmering tonight in her black on black ensemble; five inch patent leather heels, fishnets under a tartan kilt, and of course her favorite black lace corset, heavy with flowered brocade and full to the brim with painstakingly white flesh. Her quiet triumph: the buttermilk skin of her French Lavender scented décolletage, so beguiling as to ensure Emma (or “Miss Grace,” as she loves to be called) is usually denied the pleasure of eye contact. Most people scan past her gunmetal grey eyes and molasses locks and dive into that creamy skin instead.
There, under her cool surface, a longed for scene was unfolding in Emma’s always active imagination. She was waking up to the warm-bread-smell of Devendra’s skin in tangled bed sheets—his dreaming body draped around the curve of hers—with Satie playing on her iHome alarm. She’d get up early and rent out her soul to slow the sun and stay there with him under layers of sleep. She’d craft lies as masterful as the earth being flat to keep him on the tip of her tongue, to mend the fraying of attraction, to stave off the inevitable turning away. Eventually, whole tender worlds can be lost forever in the space between words in a voicemail. Better to keep them alive but sleeping in the dimly lit rooms of possibility that only dreamers know. One day, she won’t be like this. One day, her mind will be free of doubt. Her mouth and words and actions will all sync up seamlessly. Like it’s the easiest thing in the world. For half an uncomplicated moment Emma’s red, lacquered lips parted at the sweet idea of it, but no point formed. No sound emerged but the shadow of a sigh.
Emma’s mouth remained useless, until, on the walk home, just a few blocks from her apartment, she was seized by a coughing fit. Purple veins bulged in her pale neck as she hacked away on the corner of 3rd and Arizona.
“Something from the Eucalyptus trees,” flicked through her mind. “Fuck me…” She rasped once more into the briny night air, eyes squeezed shut against the ridiculousness of it.
She didn’t notice the small, soggy insect exit her throat and hit the pavement, where it twitched in the unseeing beam of headlights. It tilted pathetically to the left and right as though in its death throes. A Great Dane strode by with its hipster owner in tow. Confused by the scent of newborn lust, the dog paused to sniff the struggling, and then exhaled roughly in bewilderment. In that rush of warm breath, the moist ball unfolded in a blink to reveal two panels of black wings, soft as velvet, each with a fierce blood red droplet in the middle. Two delicate feelers unfurled, and in a heartbeat she was away. A Voluptas Butterfly never has any trouble finding shelter with her sisters. Born out of longing, pleasure, and pure desire, she will always find protection amongst all that which our senses adore. The patient Voluptas Butterfly waited, hidden in rafters of moonbeams, amid delicate white Jasmine blossoms, trembling in anticipation along somebody’s garden fence.
To the Jasmine’s dismay just a few minutes passed until a taxi approached. Devendra rode alone in the back with the window down. He leaned into the dirty breeze and closed his tired eyes. He loved the smell of the damp sea air slumming with the exhaust fumes of a million L.A commuters. It seemed to him like sweet and sad memories all mingling together. At a stop sign he closed his eyes and took another long, slow, deep breath. The clever Voluptas Butterfly seized her opportunity…
The above is an excerpt from the beginning of The Voluptas Butterfly, an urban fantasy short story about the magical power of longing. To see how the story ends, watch out for the short story e-book coming soon to Amazon.
For more about my fiction writing you may also enjoy this post: Are You My Reader?
Are you into Pinterest? The Voluptas Butterfly has a Pinterest page: Emma Grace’s Favorite Dark and Pretty Things.