Editor’s Note: This story contains suicidal ideation.
“I Am the Candle”
by Eric Del Carlo
I see your tears. And I know your lover has left you. The boy pigmented in autumnal hues? Or the raven-haired, much-tattooed girl? Who was here last? I try to recall if I heard harsh words. I can’t always understand what you and your paramours say to one another, but I often recognize tone, timbre. And know when emotions run high and perilous.
Emotion now, from you. The sorrow. Shiny tracks on your cheeks. I ache because you hurt. I want only your joy. My life is at its most exquisite when I am illuming you in your carnal throes, when you flush with the pumping of blood in your veins, when you tangle and grapple and curse and grunt, lick and grab and fondle and impale.
This bedroom is my universe, and you are the chief inhabitant. I have burned for you. Literally: burned.
And I watch you as you are alone.
You should strike a match. You should let my flame soothe you. Stare into me, and I will dance for you. I hopelessly send these thoughts to you, as you sit slumped, dejected, your bed lonely tonight, your–
But you move! You palm one eye, then the other, and you take up the match. You scratch it alight and–yes! yes!–you bring it to my waiting wick. You touch me. And I am alive!
You stare into me, just as I hoped. And I dance, yellow tongue of fire licking and cavorting. I put out my flickering light, make your shadow caper on the bedroom wall. I want you to forget your sorrows. See only me. Think only of me…
You turn away. You take a box from under the bed and solemnly open it. I can’t see what you handle inside it. Finally you turn back, face me, and in your hands is some strange sinister device, gleaming blackly, exuding a mechanical malevolence.
It fits neatly in one hand. You slowly lift it. It has a short tube attached to it, and you press this against your temple. You–
I don’t like it! I won’t have it! I do not know what, exactly, you are doing, but I mean to prevent it. I pour my life energy into the flame, and I grow. I rise. I expand. I force arms to appear. They reach out. I flare brighter and bigger still.
Your eyes widen. You flinch. I must not burn you. I pull in my heat. I am fire, yes, but I make my surface only warm, not burning. I am a torso now, nearly full-sized, like you. I continue to dance. I weave my hands before me, twist, gyrate. The freedom is wonderful.
You put down the malignant metal object. Good. But you are still full of grief–and fear, too, over me, over my appearance in your room.
But I commit to my action. I have longed to do this, to break out of my confinement, to touch you. I rise further. I gain a waist, legs, feet. I step out into your world, still holding in my blazing heat, burning nothing in the room. I have control over myself. I can take what shape I like.
I give myself a face, a pretty one. I extrude breasts. I award myself a cleft between my legs. My “skin” feels. I register the rug beneath my bare soles. You have moved further away, on the floor, now pressed back against your bed. Awe fills your face. The fear dwindles.
Still I dance for you, now free of any restrictions. My body is like that of the tattooed girl. I shimmy and whirl. I turn to display my ripe buttocks. I run my flaming hands over the swells of my breasts. My nipples engorge, and pleasure streams all through me.
I want you. Do you want me?
I offer my hands. You hesitate. I brush fingertips on your cheek to show I will not burn you. Then I help you stand. We stand so close. I feel you tremble.
We kiss. You are unsure but only for an instant or two, before our mouths smear hungrily together. I taste your tongue.
Your clothes are in the way. I tug them off you. You assist. We tumble onto the bed. No more hesitations. My hands rove you. I feel the lovely swelling of your member. So many times I’ve watched you use this. Now it’s my turn.
We touch and kiss and fondle and grope and play. Your fingers ply my groove, and I gasp. I writhe against you. I am on my back, and you mount me. You penetrate, and it is glorious. I answer your thrusts, moving as the girl would. Your tempo increases. My joy gathers. Now I know what the girl’s paroxysms mean. A climax, like I experience now. At the same time your spunk erupts inside me.
We lay for a time. Then you stir again. With an easy effort I reconfigure myself. The breasts vanish. Muscles harden and grow. My furrow becomes an erect member like yours. You touch me there, still rapturous. I feel the new pleasure.
I want you. You move helpfully into position. I hurry in behind. I set myself to your entrance, and I penetrate. You cry out in pleasure. I stroke into you. With each thrust I feel your sorrow recede.
I move inside you until you erupt again. I do the same, leaving a heat-less deposit inside you. Limply, you doze. I have helped. I have known my own ecstacies as well.
Before returning to my home, I take the black apparatus in my hands and let the full force of my heat melt its works. You will not harm yourself.
I snuff myself, letting smoke trail to the ceiling. One day my wax will be gone. Yours will too, so to speak. Before that, we will know this joy again.
Eric Del Carlo’s erotic fiction first appeared with Circlet Press in the 1990s. Since, he has had multiple appearances in Circlet anthologies. His mainstream sf has been published in Clarkesworld, Analog, Asimov’s and other venues.