The door was open, thus Kaida entered the bedroom without disturbing Neal. She lifted the covers on her side of the bed. As she began to slip her body between the sheets, she caught a glimpse of Neal's ribs. The texture of his skin was off.
Have I had too much to drink? she thought, Or am I simply going mad? Kaida lifted the covers, and jolted upright. She was startled at the sight of Neal's naked chest. However, her gasp did not wake him.
Scars? There was something rough, like fleshy bark, about what she saw. No, burns!
His left breast and lower chest were scarred with burns. It seemed disfigured and alien to Kaida's eyes. She watched his chest rise and fall with every breath that he took. And then, she noticed the tattoo on his left arm. Priscilla. It was written along a banner, over a heart. Neal has never tattooed his body. What is this? Is he seeing another woman?
A sound, across the room, like the slapping of a whip. Kaida pivoted, still sitting in front of her pillow. She saw a woman standing in their doorway. She was in a corset, and a wispy, translucent red dress. In her hand was a black whip, blood dripping from it onto the hardwood floor of the apartment.
"Hello?" Kaida queried the apparition.
The madame faded, with a crack of the whip. Her body became as translucent as the dress, and then she simply disappeared.
Kaida turned to Neal, hoping he had seen it too. However, he lay undisturbed. And the burns, too, had faded. And Kaida now realized how very tense she had become. Very tense. Very tired.
Who is Priscilla? Below his left shoulder, she could still see the tattoo. And she decided to ask him about it in the morning. She was too tired for a fight now. And as Kaida put her head against the pillow, the heart began to bleed, as if strangled by the banner. She did not see. She did not hear. Breathing slowly, Kaida rose into unconsciousness. Maybe it was the wine; however, Kaida managed to push all her troubles aside and rest amongst the tension and oddities.
And when sunlight deluged the room in warmth, it glinted against the gaudy lingerie that was scattered upon the bed covers. They scintillated. The rich, silky threats and their beaded frills. Their sparkles and baubles. And the comforter, folded up at the foot of the bed, was torn in several places as if struck by a whip.
Neal yawned, and rubbed his eyes. He looked around in disbelief, "Kaida, darling, what the fuck is this?"