My Own Desert Places, Pt. 25 (GPT-3 fueled short)

To attend her writing class, Alazne had decided to walk up to the library in old town alone, as part of her intention to feel more resilient and confident and not burden me with all her troubles. I’m mostly proud of my girl, but on the other hand I don’t like one bit that for her growing up means spending less time with me. She agreed, though, that we could meet in the street after her class ended. However, this time I wouldn’t wait at a nearby coffee shop in old town, nor even in the commercial area of the city. I’m three streets away from our gated community in the outskirts of Hondarribia. I had walked around for a while to locate some bar or coffee shop where I could sit outside, to then torture myself by writing down my experiences as a woman who died twenty years ago and who later on stole a guy’s body to date the woman of her dreams.
This whole area of Hondarribia is composed of quiet, modern-looking residential buildings for young couples who intend to reproduce. I suppose that it’s the right area for Alazne and I to live in. I found a colonnade under a pristine white, three-story residential building, where an almost deserted coffee shop had set up tables outside. A breath of fresh air. I hurried up to sit near the balustrade, facing a view of the hilly countryside as well as, farther in the distance, the biggest mountain in that direction. I still don’t know its name, nor care. A few cars are driving around a roundabout decorated with a grove of skinny trees, but otherwise there’s barely anyone walking around. The sun is shining brightly, and the leaves of nearby trees remain still.
I pull out my laptop, which belongs to Kateryna because the one I bought I gave to my girlfriend, and set it up on the table. As Windows loads, I look over my shoulder to see if any of the employees of the coffee shop have noticed me, but behind the tinted windows I only spot a young woman in her twenties who is mopping the bar. I sigh, then walk inside to order a coffee with milk. She tells me that she’ll bring it over to my table.
Once I’m sitting back at my chosen chair, I insert the pen drive where I pasted lots of albums, and I open the Word document that holds my confessions. I feel myself relaxing. I might end up delving into harrowing memories, but at least I’ll get to listen to my favorite songs and write at my leisure. Life has been treating me so well, it’s hard to believe that this new existence of mine started with a cheating bastard steering his Škoda into oncoming traffic.
After I shove the earbuds into my ear canals, thinking about my twenty years as a ghost has made me melancholic enough, so I play Laura Marling’s ‘Always This Way’. That lady’s voice often sounds as if she’s about to break into tears.
The cursor is blinking under a paragraph where I explained how I killed myself and then abandoned my hometown. I don’t want to reread that, maybe ever. And now how can I explain twenty years of delirious experiences as a ghost? Alazne already knows that I travelled around for quite a bit during the first few years. Trying to remember all the ghosts I got to meet, a miserable shadow comes to mind. I smile to myself, then get to work.
I probably shouldn’t jump straight into talking about the last person stuck in the afterlife that mattered to me, when I have written barely anything about my many years as a ghost, but I will write what comes to mind, and therefore was important enough to remember. I can always restructure the text later if necessary. Although if you are reading this explanation, I must have considered that moving stuff around in my memoir was too much of a hassle.
Yeah, that’s a whole lot of words and I still haven’t mentioned my friend.
His name was Iñaki. He must have died far earlier than I did. I wouldn’t be surprised if he existed for more than a hundred years. He was haunting, or I guess merely living at, a half-ruined farmhouse in the hilly outskirts of Irún, in an area that even most of the residents don’t know. How did I meet this guy, you might be thinking? Ghosts get bored, and one of the main sources of joy, or I guess Kateryna would call them distractions, is snooping into things that don’t concern them: the busy, frantic lives of breathing people, or random buildings that those ghosts haven’t explored yet. Wouldn’t you want to do that as a living person, just wander into crazy places to figure out what’s there? As a ghost you can do that without repercussions, other than cranky shadows yelling at you. I have seen so many people fucking. They get so creative with how they use their holes. I also learned that farting is a worldwide pastime that nobody is proud of, and that even in the afterlife, in which all smells are muted, some people’s guts are seriously rotten. Anyway, Iñaki. This guy was as miserable as they come. He usually did little else than read the same pages of the books that happened to be lying open. He could perform some interesting feats as a ghost, like project his voice clearly into recording devices, or even force the living to hear his footsteps. Not that he went around freaking out people: he remained at his ruined former home as if he was guarding the place, and I guess he was. Guilt chained him to that ruin.
I have already listened a few times to Laura Marling regretting someone’s death. I put on her best album, as far as I’m concerned, ‘I Speak Because I Can’, starting from ‘Rambling Man’, of which I’m particularly fond because it’s one of Alazne’s favorites.
As I was preparing my fingers to type again, a coffee cup lands softly next to my hand. Oh yeah, I had ordered some coffee, hadn’t I? What the hell was this waitress doing? Whatever. I barely nod towards her as she walks back into the shop. At least she’s not like that blonde waitress with the bubbly ass and who wanted me to read Camus. That French philosopher was murdered by the KGB. He won’t have to push a rock uphill anymore, unless his ghost is still wandering around and was granted poltergeist powers.
But why on earth would I have befriended that Iñaki guy? Because I was lonely. You see, ghosts are the fucking worst. They know they don’t have a future, they know they won’t be able to reproduce, and that unless they figure out how to move on to the beyond to discover what awaits us there, if anything, they will be damned to drift for eternity. The lucky ones go insane to an extent that it renders their regrets void, so they dissolve into nothing. I used to hate the wailers, those pathetic ghosts who just roam around in a daze while yelling without a care in the world. People can hear you, assholes! Sometimes they came up to me just to certify that someone could still see them. I could both see them and hear them, and so what? We were still stuck in a nightmare that we couldn’t even see nor hear nor taste nor smell properly. Congratulations. Now fuck off and leave me alone. But I admit that sometimes I got so lonely that I simply needed some other ghost to listen to me. During those periods I would have given anything for some shadow to talk to me, to confide in me, to make me believe they could become my friends. I remember degrading myself, grovelling in such ways that I don’t know how I retain any self-esteem. But Iñaki was different. He preferred to be alone, but he welcomed me hanging out with him. He was a big old tsundere about it, I suppose, because he pretended I bothered him, but whenever I visited him again I could tell he had missed me.
I sniffle, and quickly wipe my eyes with my sleeves, as if I fear embarrassing myself. Do you see, Iñaki, you rotten idiot? I still remember you.
I had already come across you, Alazne, and I had fallen in love with you, when I witnessed the fated last day of Iñaki in the afterlife, or maybe anywhere. A group of ghost hunting idiots broke into the place and strutted around while kicking Iñaki’s books and setting up their arcane equipment to intrude upon our ghostly lives. You know those types, they don’t respect anything. Well, we ended up giving those motherfuckers quite the show. I possessed one of them, a dude in his early twenties called Jokin, and destroyed his knuckles against a wall. I’m quite sure they recorded most of it, so I’m surprised it didn’t become national news. I haven’t even come across the footage on YouTube! Maybe they were so stupid that they lost the recordings, or couldn’t figure out how to upload it. Or maybe they were so traumatized by the experience that they offed themselves. No, I’m sure the footage is out there in some corner of YouTube, but I guess these days anything can be faked, so people just shrug and whatever through everything. Those supposedly true filmings of UFOs released by the US navy or whoever don’t look that impressive to me. And in the end it’s not as if the average taxpayer is going to find out what the fuck truly goes on in this world. Hey, or maybe those ghost hunters got sent to some mental institution. There are still mental institutions around, right? I like that. They were the investigators in some Lovecraft story, and Iñaki and I were the Great Old Ones that those fuckers were so incredibly unlucky to gaze upon. It did make me feel powerful at the time, and you need such ego trips to counter how impotent one feels as a ghost in the afterlife.
I was taking a sip of my mostly bitter and too artificial tasting coffee when I realize that someone is standing on my right. He has placed a hand on the back of the empty chair, and it lingers there as if the guy has asked something. What a bother. In the middle of Marling’s ‘Darkness Descends’ as well. I gesture towards the chair.
“Sure, buddy, grab it. I’m not using it.”
Instead off fucking off, whoever that guy is pulls the chair out and sits down. Annoyed at this person’s gall, I lift my gaze towards him as I frown. He’s a guy in maybe his mid twenties. He’s crossing his arms in a defensive posture, and he’s tapping on the ground nervously with one foot. His hair is light blonde, combed over his forehead in a way that reminds me of Roman portraits. His eyes are emerald-colored, pretty for someone who in a second gave me the impression of being skittish. He has a scar with the shape of a slim crescent moon under his right eye, as if someone socked him a good one years ago. His skin looks tight over his blocky skull. If I had to hang labels on him, I’d say he’s a nerd who didn’t grow up right.
This guy is gawking at me as if he wants to glare but he doesn’t dare. I take off my earbuds. As I open my mouth, I’m interrupted by the sound of someone pulling out the empty chair on my left, and I recognize the guy who plumps down heavily on the chair. It’s Oleksiy, the Eastern European prick who punched me in the guts.
“Hey, you again!” I say, irritated. “The guy who says ‘fucking’ all the time and who gave me diarrhea.”
“Diarrhea?” He frowns with disdain, and looks towards the waitress behind the tinted windows. “I guess I hit you hard, huh?”
The last time, Oleksiy was wearing a cheap T-shirt and pants stained with paint, I suppose because he works in construction or something related to buildings. Now he’s wearing a pine green jacket over a white T-shirt that shows that he either works out or he uses his muscles a lot in his job. For pants he’s wearing black denims. This bastard’s eyes are pale blue, but I notice a resemblance with the new Eastern European guy sitting on my right.
I gesture towards his companion.
“Who’s this?”
“Someone else who wanted to speak with you. Hadeon is the name.”
I turn to this supposed Hadeon. His irises are trembling. He’s either naturally anxious or I frighten him somehow.
“Is that true?” I ask the guy. “You are called Hadeon?”
“Yes.” His voice is as tremulous as the rest of him.
I return my gaze to Oleksiy, the clear leader of this pair of clowns.
“Alright, it’s been a while, Oleksiy. I remember your name and everything, but then again not many people have flattened my intestines. Let me recall, because it’s been a while… You knew Asier– I mean, me, and you were angry at me for something.”
“Yes. I would do it just because you are an asshole, for starters.”
I frown. I don’t like to be sworn at, not more than the average person anyway.
“Did it bother you that much that you caught me fondling myself in public? I mean, we have a penis because touching it grants us a break from this nightmarish world.”
Oleksiy smirks for a moment, but then shakes his head as if he doesn’t want to deal with me.
“Ah, true. Fondling yourself in public. You are a right bastard, my friend.”
This guy won’t get rid of his accent even if he spends the rest of his life here. I also don’t like one bit that his jaw looks like it could take a pro’s uppercut. I want to be the only woman around commanding a man’s corpse that happened to have grown a chiseled jaw.
“I didn’t know you were there,” I say, then sigh. “Anyway, what was your gripe with me again?”
Oleksiy takes a deep breath and narrows his eyes at me as if scrutizing my expression.
“Still the fucking memory man, huh?”
I point at the ugly disfigurement near my hairline.
“As in I have close to no memory of my previous life before the accident that gave me this scar.”
Oleksiy was about to talk when Hadeon interrupts him with a much softer voice.
“It doesn’t seem like he’s acting. He didn’t recognize me at all.”
I turn my head towards him, even though I feel I shouldn’t lose sight of the far more dangerous Oleksiy. Hadeon’s eyebrows are thin and slightly arched, and his mouth is fuller and softer-looking than I would have expected on a man. I hadn’t paid attention to his clothes, but he’s sporting a crimson red hoodie with a big drawing of an anime girl. I think it’s some psycho from ‘My Hero Academia’.
“I did tell your pal Oleksiy that I suffered a car accident,” I say, “although I’m not sure if I added that it was bad enough that I actually died for a few seconds. So when I tell you fellas that I have no fucking clue who you are, I’m not joking in the slightest. Well, I now know who Oleksiy is, because he harassed and assaulted me, which didn’t leave me with a good impression of him.”
“You are a strange man,” Oleksiy says with a hint of bitterness. “I don’t know how you do shit.”
“I’m not entirely sure what you meant with that last sentence. But I recall that you intended for me to get on your 4×4 so you could drive me somewhere. Assuming that rape wasn’t in your mind, what did you want to explain to my amnesic self?”
He exhales noisily through his nostrils.
“The four of us went to a few matches to see the Real Sociedad. That doesn’t ring any bells?”
“Asier– I was into football? Let’s forget for a moment that we are three people and you mentioned four, I haven’t felt any urge to waste my time watching some overpaid pricks pursuing each other as they kick a ball. I bet even ghosts wouldn’t bother, and they tend to be bored out of their minds. If this body did accompany you gentlemen to witness football matches before I suffered my horrifying accident, I guess my brain is now doing its job of protecting me from those awful experiences.”
“You weren’t such a smart ass before the accident, for sure,” Hadeon says. “But you were a big fan of football. I don’t like it either. You got into uninteresting arguments with Oleksiy about players’ performances and how the teams performed in the rankings. Oleksiy mostly obliged you, because he’s all about the Real Madrid.”
Oleksiy smacks his lips across the table at Hadeon.
“Now I’m not sure who either of you are anymore. I thought you wanted the Real Madrid to win, Hadeon.”
“I do. Because otherwise you get angry.”
“You know what? Just forget it,” Oleksiy says, then turns his head towards me. “So you don’t care about what you used to care the most about. It’s like we are talking to a whole different person here.”
“Pretty much,” I say.
“Yeah, I’d say the new you is better,” Hadeon says, but then he looks down guiltily, as if he regrets his own words.
“Hadeon is my little brother,” Oleksiy says while staring at me as if his words should wipe the soot that blocks out my memories.
“Alright, I see the resemblance. I suppose that one of your parents had emerald eyes and the other pale blue.”
I opened my mouth to wonder out loud whether their mother had an affair and cucked their father, but I doubt it would contribute to keeping them calm.
To my confusion, Hadeon’s face turns beet red as he keeps looking down, I don’t know if it’s because of anger or embarrassment. Maybe he doesn’t like that Oleksiy brought up their familial tie.
“Last name’s Zaretsky,” Oleksiy adds, his voice getting raspy. “Does that say anything to you?”
“It’s a cool last name, but only tells me that you guys aren’t originally from here. Which I already knew due to your accents and your generally slavic look.”
“You’re an idiot if that’s the only thing you could say,” Hadeon says.
I’m surprised that this Hadeon guy had it in him. He seems scrawny under his hoodie. He must be used to Oleksiy protecting him, and probably punching in the gut the people who have a problem with some of Hadeon’s comments. He might be trying to look tough, although he’s also fidgeting with the slightly raised metallic edge of the table.
“Yeah, I know I’m an idiot,” I say as I let my gaze linger on the nerd before I turn to Oleksiy again. “So where are you guys from, originally? Or are you the types that get mad when people can tell you weren’t born in the country?”
Oleksiy smirks and shifts his weight in the mostly uncomfortable coffee shop chair as if he were some oligarch sinking in his leather armchair.
“Wouldn’t bother me to talk about my home country. I always want to. Mighty Ukraine, that’s where we are from.”
I raise my eyebrows.
“That’s funny, I know someone from Ukraine. You guys have the most gorgeous women in the world! I don’t know fuck else about your country, but the women, top-notch.”
Hadeon’s emerald gaze intensifies as he gives me a look like I’m talking nonsense and I should shut up. I don’t know what’s up with him.
“Is that so?” Oleksiy says, lowering his voice. “I am proud about that, sure, but I can’t say I want someone like you bringing it up.”
I scratch the bridge of my nose as I try to connect snome other facts swimming around in my brain to the notion that a country named Ukraine exists.
“Ah, you guys also had that nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl. World Guiness Records stuff. Nearly killed the whole continent.”
Hadeon shoots me a fearsome glare that I wouldn’t have expected in a smaller guy who wears anime merchandise.
“Fuck you. We had nothing to do with that.”
“Are you sure?” I ask him.
“Jesus,” he says, throwing his hands up at me. “Why are you such a dick?”
“Hadeon.” Oleksiy sighs. “Your language.”
“Guess I’m just a dick by nature,” I answer. “Or only since the car crash. But I’m sure that if something bad happened in your country even a thousand years ago, or your countrymen were responsible, the people who are born there must lower their heads and keep apologizing for it for eternity.”
Oleksiy’s top lip trembles. It seems that the whole Chernobyl fiasco really bothers him, or maybe just being accused of it.
“It’s that how it works, huh…?”
“Those are the rules,” I say calmly.
“Quit talking nonsense,” Oleksiy says loud enough as if to force me to focus my attention on him. “I don’t give a shit about radiation, it’s got nothing to do with me.”
“It’s got everything to do with you, it’s caused by the weak nuclear force.”
“What? Whatever. Point is that I’m Oleksiy Zaretsky, that one there is Hadeon Zaretsky, but there was… a third sibling.”
Hadeon groans, and then he scratches the floor with the legs of his chair as if he intended to spring to his feet, but only shifted his weight violently.
“Don’t tell me you forgot her, asshole! Nobody would forget her in a million years!”
Oleksiy is frowning, but he gestures with his hand for his brother to lower his voice.
“Calm down.”
“Everyone will forget everyone else eventually,” I say. “And each of us will one day be thought of for the last time. Isn’t that a horrifying notion? It really puts in perspective the absurdity of being alive, I think. But who is this missing Zaretsky sister of yours?”
“Say her name!” Hadeon shouts at me with a teary voice.
I briefly look over my shoulder as if I wanted to spare myself some second-hand embarrasment, but the rest of the tables are empty. Inside the coffee shop I can only make out a blur of the waitress as she holds open a door, that maybe leads into the kitchen. I’m sure she has noticed that these two guys are bothering me and being loud, but she won’t get involved. They are the kind that invite random people to get on their 4x4s to rape them, after all.
“Hade,” Oleksiy says, “stop it.”
“No! Kateryna! You don’t forget Kateryna!”
I gasp as I snap my head back.
“Of course! You guys are Kateryna’s brothers! There must not be that many blond-haired Ukrainian guys around, I guess.”
Oleksiy shakes his head at me, and I feel as if this is one of those moments in which I could either make a new friend or alienate someone important to me. These Zaretskys seem the type to hold grudges.
“Well, how are you guys doing?” I ask cordially. “Is life treating you well?”
Hadeon seems confused, but then he slumps down in his chair and turns his head away from me. His eyes are getting watery.
“Life’s a bitch.”
“Hade…” his brother says.
“It is! She’s a bitch, because she took Kat away!”
These poor bastards. The torture that exists in the wake of losing a loved one is a pain for which nobody can prepare you. I’m sure that our beloved Kat had thought that she had scored a stable life with a handsome enough rich guy. I bet she started out cheerful and caring, just a joy to be around, only for Asier to run over her life by cheating on her obscenely hot and naïve self. He must have broken Kateryna’s ability to trust in humanity, to the extent that she decided to exit this nightmare through the emergency door. My dear friend… I know damn well that it could only take a second of truly wanting to die for her to pull the trigger, or kick the stool from under her, or take a step into the void. So these two motherfuckers approached me because Asier was the last person who dealt with their lost sister. They keep fighting for someone who is already dead.
“I’m so sorry, my friends,” I say, and I can’t prevent my voice from trembling. “I can’t imagine what you two are going through.”
Hadeon lets out a muffled sob, which makes Oleksiy uncomfortable. He touches the table near my laptop as if to attract my attention.
“So you remember Kateryna, even though you forgot us. What do you remember of her?”
“Quite frankly, I only started getting to know her when I had to pretend… I mean, ever since the accident. I don’t hold any memories from before. But I know she’s lovely, a beautiful woman and a caring friend.”
Oleksiy frowns and shakes his head slightly, as if he’s unsure if he has the right information but at the same time he’s getting tired of this.
“What would you learn after the accident? By then, Kat was already…”
Oh yeah, I only know her ghost self. Although in my mind I have managed to manifest a mental image of Kat’s voluptuous, living self on top of her bubble of cold air, I technically never met her when she still commanded a flesh and bone robot.
“Fortunately I can tell you guys that Kateryna is doing great!” I smile at the brothers. “Sure, being stuck on that dreary plane has dispirited her from time to time, but she’s a tough girl. We also keep her entertained with our antics, as well as playing music and movies. So overall I’d say she’s been in a good mood recently.”
Hadeon has become paralyzed, and is staring at me with a grimace of shock. Then from my left I hear Oleksiy exhaling like a bull. He has opened his eyes enough that the white over his irises is showing, and he has raised one side of his mouth as if smelling rotten meat.
“What in the fuck are you talking about?! Kateryna is dead!”
“Oh, that’s right…” I nod while stroking my chin. “I mean, apart from that.”
“You’re telling us you’ve been interacting with Kat’s ghost, and that you’ve been keeping her… amused?” Hadeon mutters with a hollow voice.
Oleksiy has turned white and is looking straight through me with those pale blue eyes. He seems ready to break something.
“That’s one way of putting it, but also the correct one,” I say cautiously. “I’m sorry if it’s a bit strange to hear…”
“Strange?! It’s fucking unbelievable,” Hadeon says. “Asier, I don’t give a shit if you’re mentally unstable. I want to know what happened with Kateryna. What did you do to her? Did you kill her?”
I open my mouth and I’m about to fumble some words when Oleksiy stands up from his chair enough to grip my shoulder closest to him with his left hand, then with his right one he strikes my abdomen with all his might. A star of pain explodes in my guts.
“You… fucking bastard,” he hisses through gritted teeth as his eyes twitch. His face has turned red. “You don’t fucking joke around with our Kat. If you hadn’t met her, she would still be alive.”
Oleksiy bashes me again in the guts, and I fall off backwards along with the chair. While my conscious mind tries to float over the sudden burst of pain in the lower half of my torso, I see upside down that the young waitress is turning away from this pitiful scene, and loses herself in whatever room exists behind the bar. She doesn’t want any part of this. I don’t blame her. I doubt she will call the police either.
Before I can react, Oleksiy grabs my wrists at the same time that he lowers his foot against one of the front legs of the chair, and I end up sitting straight as if nothing had happened, except for the burning pain in my intestines. A surge of nausea shoots up from my stomach, but I gulp it down.
“If you don’t talk and tell us the truth, I’m going to break both of your fucking arms and cut off your ears,” Hadeon threatens like a bomb about to drop. His eyebrows are furrowed, his eyes fixed on mine, his nostrils flared. “What did you do to her?!”
“Shut it, Hade,” Oleksiy says firmly.
I cough.
“You really have something against people’s intestines, Oleksiy,” I struggle to say through my dry mouth.
He merely glares at me with naked disdain as his pupils dilate. My abdomen burns like there’s a white-hot poker inside. I don’t feel like I need to shit myself this time, maybe because of the angle from which the punches came, but I feel my skin getting clammy.
“Ah, people keep uncomfortable truths to themselves because someone might cause them physical pain otherwise,” I add. “No wonder this world is fucked.”
Oleksiy doesn’t reply and instead backs away from me a little. The scrawny sibling looks down at the floor, then back at me. A tear has left a trail as it ran down his cheek, but now he’s mainly angry.
“You’re going to have to tell us. You know the rules of this world.”
It fucking hurts. But even in the middle of this pain that is sending alarms throughout my body, and that may have caused internal bleeding, I get to remember that if I was still a ghost I wouldn’t experience this. My insides hurt because I’m alive.
“Tell you pricks fucking what?” I ask, annoyed. “I have only known Kat ever since the accident. I have no clue why she died. I’m sure that Asier was a bastard to her, but I wasn’t responsible for it!”
Oleksiy leans forward and stabs me in the chest with his finger. My heart is pounding as he puts pressure on my sternum.
“Is this what the amnesia bullshit intended to cover? So you can fucking say that you weren’t responsible for ending our Kat’s life?”
Hadeon sobs, and then pounds on the table with his fist, spilling some of my coffee, while tears jump from his eyes.
“Kat was the light of everyone’s life! She would never kill herself! And if she did swallow all those pills willingly, it’s because you made her do it! It must have been your fault!”
Oleksiy stops pressuring my chest and instead turns to address Hadeon.
“We’ll get through this together, brother. We always have, we always will. You know that you shouldn’t cry in public.”
I cough in my hand. Cold sweat is running down my neck. I open my hand expecting to see blood, but there’s none. I doubt it confirms that I haven’t suffered serious damage, because the pain suggests it. I shift my torso on the chair to the position that diminishes the pulsating pangs that are running inside my belly.
“Didn’t you guys go to the police already?” I ask with a thin voice. “I mean, someone of authority must have looked into Kat’s death.”
Oleksiy shakes his head as he avoids looking at me.
“The police? What the fuck will those people do? They find a woman dead in a bathtub because she swallowed a load of pills, they find out that you weren’t in the house at the time, so it’s suicide. That’s what they concluded.”
“We don’t trust the cops,” Hadeon says as he wipes his eyes with his sleeves. “Not when it comes to this.”
I look from Hadeon to Oleksiy and back to Hadeon. I blink to disuade a bead of sweat from irritating my eyeball.
“So what do you want me to do exactly? I truly don’t remember anything of this body’s relationship with Kateryna before the accident. You know more about how she died than I do!”
Oleksiy snorts. He has lowered his head, and as the color returns to his face, he looks like he regrets his outburst. Not that it will take away how much my guts hurt.
“The point is that you must have led Kateryna to suicide,” he says quietly, as if trying to calm himself. “Either by something you told her, something you did to her, or a combination of both. That makes sense to you for sure.”
I rub my eyes as I control my breathing. Asier’s relentless cheating had fucked with Ainhoa’s mind, making her doubt herself, her body, her place in life… But she’s tough and dignified. Even though I didn’t know Kateryna before I stole Asier’s body, she’s carefree and a bit naïve. She might not have believed that there could be any monster out there that if she truly loved the guy and was fair to him, the guy would in exchange cheat on her with multiple women. Also, Ainhoa said that Asier acted with them like a bastard afterwards. And now I’m wearing that shithead’s body… Maybe I should start flagellating myself.
I pull out my wallet and extract the folded note that the doctor printed. I hand it to Oleksiy.
“Read that, please. Written by a doctor while they were treating me due to the car accident in which I died for a few seconds.”
Oleksiy reads the note. He frowns.
“Memory loss caused either by head trauma or not enough oxygen getting to the brain when the patient’s heart stopped for too long.”
He looks at me, then hands the note to Hadeon. He reads it, and reads it again. He lowers it slowly until it rests on the table. I grab it and slip it back into my wallet.
“It does look legitimate,” Hadeon concedes.
“Listen, guys…” I wiggle my ass until it doesn’t feel as if I have a burning, solid object lodged above my genitals. “I don’t remember anything about my experience of dating Kateryna. That’s even more tragic still, because the Asier who witnessed her final days, and who understood Kat’s reasons, is gone forever. I haven’t recovered any of the memories. So we will never know…” I shake my head, then lift my gaze to Oleksiy, who seems conflicted. “Wait a second, did Kateryna leave a suicide note?”
Oleksiy shuffles his feet.
“No, according to you.”
“And the police didn’t find any either? They were the first on the scene?”
“They were,” Hadeon says, his voice trembling. “Or so they believed.”
I rub my chin. I can’t imagine any version of Kateryna not leaving a suicide note. She’s always eager to open up and chat with others. Did Asier cheating on her supermodel self destroy her to the extent that when she found out, she just filled her stomach with random pills and then lay down in the bathtub? That was the bathtub where I ate out Alazne and she jerked me off. I hope Kateryna didn’t consider it an insult.
“It’s not just that we can’t imagine our beautiful Kateryna killing herself for any reason,” Hadeon goes on somberly, “it’s that after her death you acted real shady. It seemed as if your grief was fake. You could just be a bastard, for sure, but we know one thing: you didn’t return all of her stuff.”
“Really? What stuff was I withholding?” I ask with curiosity.
Hadeon lowers his head and rubs his eyes as if he’s about to start sobbing again. Oleksiy has been eyeing me differently since he read that doctor’s note. It’s like he understands now that he’s dealing with a different person than the one they were harassing.
“A laptop.” He sighs. “One that Hadeon bought for Kateryna shortly before you started dating her.”
Hadeon’s shoulders are shaking, and I can see below his hands, with which he’s covering the upper half of his face, that he’s clenching his teeth.
“Kateryna… She was the sweetest, most beautiful girl in the world. Why did you have to die? You can’t be dead.”
I swallow. This guy isn’t faking his grief, and I realize that he must have been thinking of little else since their sister died. What a fucking nightmare.
A cold shiver runs through me. Oh fuck. Kateryna’s laptop is open right between her brothers.
“What excuse did Asier– I give to keep her laptop?”
Hadeon removes his hands from his face. His eyes are red and puffy, and snot is running down his nose.
“You said that you didn’t have it… That she must have left it somewhere.”
I don’t like this one bit. Why would Asier have lied to these guys about Kateryna’s laptop? It seems that he didn’t withhold any other item of hers. And he had hidden it in the attic, behind piles of boxes.
“When… When I got back from the hospital, I found this laptop at home. Is this the one you bought for her?” I ask Hadeon as I turn the laptop slightly towards him.
Hadeon gasps and nearly jumps out of his chair.
“Oh shit, it is!”
He grabs the opposite sides of the screen, then he touches its frame and the keyboard as if the laptop were a precious memento. He starts crying again, his face twisting in grief.
I look away from him. My gut is already killing me, and I don’t want my heart to start hurting too. Apart from that, I will be able to talk to Kateryna about this regrettable incident the moment I get home.
“W-why did you h-hide it…?” Hadeon manages to ask.
“Hade… He doesn’t know,” Oleksiy says softly.
The older brother looks beaten, sick of everything. For a few seconds I only hear the sound of cars driving around the roundabout, birds chirping, and Hadeon’s muffled sobs.
“I’m sorry about everything,” I say seriously. “I’m sorry that Kateryna died, but I’m even more sorry for the two of you, because Kat… Wherever Kateryna is, I don’t imagine that she’s feeling as terrible as you guys have since she’s been gone. I don’t know the kind of person I was before I lost most of my memories, but if I could go back in time as the person I am now, Kateryna would be here with us.”
Oleksiy lifts his weary gaze to mine.
“We are leaving with the laptop.”
“Sure, it belonged to Kateryna. But let me please copy in the pen drive the Word file I was working on. Just that.”
“Yeah…” Hadeon says.
He wipes his tears with his sleeve as I orient the laptop’s monitor towards me. I save the file, close it, cut and paste it into the pen drive, and take the device out.
“Alright, that’s all. Ah, and grab its bag as well. It has the charger and everything.”
Oleksiy holds the bag open as Hadeon, still gritting his teeth out of grief, places the laptop inside. After the big brother closes the bag, he stands up, slings it around his shoulder and looks at me with a sense of finality. Hadeon stands up slowly as well. He must not have a tissue, because he’s drenching his sleeves.
“You are going to call the police, I guess.”
I wave a hand to dismiss the notion.
“As much as my intestines hurt, I understand your predicament. I also feel terrible about what you guys have gone through. I’d rather just leave it be on my part.”
Oleksiy sighs without hiding his relief.
“Something must have happened to you and Kateryna that she ended up killing herself. I can’t forgive you for whatever it is, even if she just felt bad because of some argument. But I guess this is all. Kateryna is dead and we’ll have to live with that.”
Hadeon sniffles and puts on his hood to hide his face. The brothers turn and start walking away.
This isn’t right, is it? Kateryna isn’t gone. Can I allow her brothers to believe that she’s fully dead, when her ghost remains? I truly don’t want to see these guys ever again, but I fear that I will feel responsible for their unending pain.
I stand up and call out to Oleksiy. He turns with a confused expression.
“Listen, we are tied to this thing, you guys and I,” I say. “I think that at least we should exchange phone numbers. You never know.”
Oleksiy shrugs. Hadeon keeps showing me his back, but I don’t blame him. The big brother pulls out his phone, and we even do that ritual of calling each other’s number to make sure that we weren’t deceiving the other. Then we say our goodbyes and they go.
The pain in my belly is seething, but I can finally relax my shoulders. I wipe the sweat from my forehead. I stand there to make sure that those two get in their brick red Toyota 4Runner 4×4 car, which they had parked close by, and drive away.

My Own Desert Places, Pt. 24 (GPT-3 fueled short)

At around two in the afternoon, Alazne and I arrive at the La Perla restaurant, located right next to the popular La Concha beach in Donostia. I had wanted a reservation not only to enjoy eating at a fancy restaurant, but also to keep flaunting to my girlfriend how much money I stole, although as far as Alazne knows, my riches are mainly inherited. It’s too bad that we ended up with an overcast day with clouds that are turning greyer, because otherwise we would have gotten a view of dozens of beachgoers lounging on the sand or taking a bath in the Cantabrian sea. Not that I wanted to ogle at half-naked bodies while I’m eating next to my girlfriend.
As we wait in the entrance for some waiter to lead us to our table, I take a good look at my beloved Alazne again. After I had informed her that we were going to eat at a fancy restaurant in the capital of our province, she wanted me to buy her a dress to match. First she bought a couple of tear-shaped aquamarine earrings, which look lovely in her pretty ears. Shen then chose a type of garb apparently called a skater dress, with a high, defined waist and a flared skirt that almost reaches her knees. Although the base of the dress is white, it’s so filled with floral designs, all of them roses, that it looks from punch pink to crepe pink, with a smattering of green. It reminds me of the kind of elegant dresses that Asier’s ex-fiancée Ainhoa wears, and I wonder if my girlfriend was inspired by how confident Ainhoa looked. Unfortunately, due to how this day risks ending in rain, Alazne wears a denim jacket over the expensive dress.
This morning I got to see for the first time how Alazne shaved her legs. I prefer her untamed look, but it seems that my girlfriend took this outing as a challenge. However, the enthusiasm she had gone to bed with yesterday had been replaced with a worrying lethargy as soon as she woke up today. It felt as if she was forcing herself to go through the motions, because otherwise she would have spent the day holed up at our house. During our train ride to Donostia, Alazne kept shifting her weight in the seat as if constantly uncomfortable. She had trouble holding my gaze, and the corners of her mouth kept falling.
A waiter finally checks our reservation and walks us to a table at the back of the restaurant, in front of a curved wall with a panoramic view of the beach and the nearby islands, as well as a beach-themed ornamental display that looks like an imitation of a Japanese sand garden. The tablecloth is snow white and the cloth napkins are neatly folded.
We look the expensive menu over. I point out several appetizing choices, but I can tell that Alazne is barely paying attention. Maybe because the bags under her eyes are more prominent today, her hazel eyes seem sunken. She was nervously tucking a lock of light brown hair behind her ear when I place my hand on her free one, which startles her. I caress her skin with my thumb.
“You aren’t fine today, are you,” I say softly.
Alazne lifts her gaze shyly towards my eyes. She looks as if she were the thief instead of me. I regret having dragged her out for a tiring outing today, even though she knew it was coming and she went along willingly.
“I-I am so, so sorry, Asier,” she says with a weak, pitiful voice. “I felt it coming yesterday. It’s… I’m going through another cycle.” Alazne palms her face with her free hand and exhales slowly before continuing. “I’m sorry. I really wanted our day to be perfect, but… I go and do this to you. It’s not fair.”
I look around in case any of the other clients of the restaurant, which is crowded, or the waiters are paying attention to us. I lower my voice.
“You mean you are depressed, right?”
“Yes. And it’s my fault. It’s my fault for making you feel weak and powerless because you couldn’t do anything to help me. It’s my fault that–“
I lift Alazne’s chin up with my index finger to look into her eyes.
“First of all, my love, I’m guessing you feel guilty and worthless and all that nasty shit of which depression tries to convince you. It’s a demon dragging you to a lonely death. Alazne, I am well aware that you suffer from depression, and I love you. I intend to be with you forever. You will go through great times and also some depressive times as well, and that’s alright. Those feelings will pass.”
Alazne looks down with a frown.
“But, Asier, I feel like whenever I’m depressed and I’m sick, I’m a burden to you. I don’t want to hold you back from being the person you are meant to be. I’m sure there is someone out there more dedicated than I am.”
I can almost see a tiny black gremlin perched on her brain and scratching her grey matter.
“You are not a burden, and I don’t want anyone else. You know that your depression is tainting your emotions right now. Just take deep breaths and tell yourself that in a few days you’ll get better.”
Alazne breathes in and out.
“But what if I don’t?” she asks with a quavering in her voice. “What if this is how it’s going to be? You’re still young, you can find someone who isn’t going to make you miserable.”
“Sweetie, I want to grab you by the shoulders and shake you a bit. Please look over the menu. Anything that strikes your fancy, I will bankroll. Your boyfriend is rich. Fill your belly with expensive food.”
Alazne sniffs, but reads the menu.
“T-the fish soup sounds good. Hake in green sauce… And some french fries.”
I smile at her, and stroke her hand.
“Alright, you ordered. I have decided as well, so I’ll flag down a waiter.”
As I was turning, Alazne interrupts me.
“I-I doubt I will be able to taste much of the food, because… I can barely tell apart smells, and everything looks greyer somehow, as if the colors were faded. Ah, I feel as I am wading through mud just by being awake.”
I shiver, then cough in my hand to disguise it. My poor girl is a living ghost. Maybe just a few days out of the month, or in the worst cases most of the days out of any given week. Back when I was roaming the afterlife, I envied every single living person, because they didn’t need to experience what true meaninglessness and hopelessness feel like, but getting a taste of those while you still breathe… If someone had designed this universe, I would punch him in the face.
“Alazne, I’ll tell you something similar to what I said back when we went to the amusement park: just relax and enjoy yourself to whatever extent you are able to. You don’t have to justify yourself to anybody. When we get home, you can go to sleep if you want, extra warm if you need it, and tomorrow you’ll wake up without an alarm.”
Alazne smiles crookedly, and nods.
“I-I love you so much, Asier. I feel that you understand me…”
I realize that our waiter is approaching us. I’m quick to reply to my girlfriend that I love her as well, and as Alazne lowers her head to dissuade the guy from addressing her, I order our food. As usual, I avoid even thinking about the price. I haven’t been following the movements in my bank account, which actually belongs to Asier, for a while. No money was getting in, and I never had spent money as quickly as I have since I possessed that cheating bastard’s body. I was beginning to feel reckless, which threatened to cause me vertigo about a possible future in which I wouldn’t be able to pay for anything, so instead of figuring out a solution, I simply stopped looking up how much money remained in the account. I’m good at ignoring important stuff.
Alazne only talks, with a weak voice, because she wants to order wine. Once the waiter leaves, I keep caressing my girl’s hand with my thumb. Beyond the window, the waves of the nervous sea keep crashing into the darkened sand and splashing foam. A couple of people are walking their dogs, their small figures so close to the lower frame of the window that I can’t see under their knees.
Alazne smiles softly at me, and then she hides her mouth in her palm to stifle a yawn. I can only imagine how hard she’s fighting to avoid ruining our day. She must be feeling cranky and restless, and the tiny demon that possessed her must be trying to convince her that nothing matters, but she still manages to smile.
“Asier… Back when we started dating, what future did you see for us?” she asks suddenly.
“Even though I suspect that your darkened mood is trying to tangle me into something troublesome, I’ll answer as honestly as I can. I wanted for us to live together before this body turned forty. I wanted you in my house, I wanted to hold you as I slept, and see your beautiful freckles from up close every morning, as soon as I woke up.”
“Y-you wanted that so soon, huh…?”
“Why, what kind of future did you see for us?”
She lowers her gaze to the fork with which she’s fidgeting.
“I wanted… to stay with you…”
“I thought I could make you happier. And although you must feel like shit right now, you were feeling great just a couple of days ago. You will return to normal in a short while, maybe a few days.”
I raise her hand and kiss it, then caress the side of her face. Her aquamarine earrings keep glinting.
Alazne sighs.
“You’re right. I know you’re right.”
A long yawn interrupts her. She opened her mouth to continue speaking, but the waiter comes with our bottle of wine. Alazne’s expression emits guilt as if she was planning to rob the place. She only relaxes slightly when the guy leaves.
I fill half of Alazne’s glass with wine. I don’t know shit about this beverage except that it usually tastes good, and most things taste amazing for me now that I’m not technically a ghost anymore. The wine will also lessen Alazne’s anxiety once she gets tipsy.
Alazne downs the whole glass in three gulps. I stare at her as I sip from my glass. It’s dry and slightly bitter, with a strong aftertaste, but pleasant.
“I’m drinking too much, I know,” Alazne says. “But I’m tired.”
If anything, getting drunk will end up with her sleeping the entire ride home. Fortunately for her she will be able to rest her head against mine and pass out.
“Why did you bring up our future as a couple, Alazne? In case you had any particular reason.”
She shrugs.
“I don’t know… It’s hard to put it into words. I never saw a future, in general. Not for me at least, you know? So I never prepared for the future. In that sense I’m almost like a teenager, an eternal one… Because it didn’t feel like a future was going to come for me. Sure, I’d need to pay the rent and the utilities, but I did it because I… To go along with the flow. When I thought about where I would be in five, ten, twenty years… Only blackness. But now you and I could last for the rest of our lives, right?”
I pour some more wine in her glass. This time she only takes a sip.
“Yeah, I can understand not having a plan for the future,” I say. “I don’t retain any memory of ever having chosen to become someone’s fiancé. This Asier… that I used to be surely intended to spend a lot of money in a fancy wedding with that Ainhoa person, and then live his life with her or whatever it is that married people do. It’s hard for me to grasp at the moment.”
The waiter comes with Alazne’s fish soup and my clam rice. Despite our troubling conversation and Alazne’s despondency, I could eat a horse, so I dig into my plate, which is a little hill, smaller than I would have preferred, certainly for how expensive it must be, of rice covered with a sauce that smells like garlic and pepper. The clams are stuck as if they were riding a wave only to end up crashing into the rice hill. It tastes real good, although I doubt you’d want to kiss someone who just ate this.
“In this new life of mine I have to deal with being present in the world,” Alazne says softly, “present to other people, managing my ties to others, and also planning for what’s to come. I’m so new at this, it’s what I mean.”
“Yeah, I understand,” I say while the taste of the rice mixed with clam sauce fills my mouth. “But we are in the same boat, aren’t we? I have to deal with my memory loss, so whatever plans for the future I made these last close to forty years didn’t amount to anything. Well, I guess I got my house along the way. Is your fish soup any good?”
She nods as she swirls the spoon in the soup absentmindedly.
“It’s good.”
We don’t speak for a while. The muffled squawks of the seagulls reach us through the windows as they fly in circles over the pigeon blue waters. The clouds are puffing up and turning greyer as they glide swiftly southwards. I should have brought an umbrella.
Alazne hasn’t raised her head in a couple of minutes. She’s three quarters of the way done with her soup. I get that she doesn’t want to talk, but I don’t want her to feel as if I’d rather not deal with her. If it were for me, and if I thought she wouldn’t blame herself for it, I would take her home and hold her under the sheets until she fell asleep. And being at home naked always feels better than anything we do out, so why even leave the house?
“I’ll be a bit more serious than usual,” I say. “Planning for the future reeks of responsibility, which I have never been fond of. I hated it, actually. Our relationship for me is like a sacred bond, closer to the feral, lifelong relationship of two monogamous animals who come out of their mother’s nether regions with most of their choices in life written in their genes. They will find a mate and live with that other creature for the rest of their lives even if they won’t ever be able to argue why.”
Alazne smiles at me, although her eyes are sleepy. I can tell she appreciates that I carry the conversation.
“I think I understand what you mean, but I’d prefer to believe that there are also rational reasons for which we are together…”
“Well, to put it in a different way, it’s like the relationship between a rider and her horse. You can be separated by hundreds of miles, but you will still feel a special connection which is greater than any man-made construct. And when you return to your horse’s side, it’s as if no time had passed: you mount it so naturally that no words need to leave your mouth.”
My girlfriend chuckles. I’m glad I got to cause it. She cleans some eye discharge with her index finger.
“The analogies are getting better and better. That’s more of a symbol of a master-slave relationship. Is that what I am to you, your little slave…?”
The waiter appeared out of nowhere carrying Alazne’s hake in green sauce and her french fries, along with my grilled sirloin steak, which looks thick and juicy. Alazne tells the guy that he can take her unfinished soup. He nods, and in a few seconds he’s gone.
As I cut my steak, I turn my head towards Alazne.
“You are my little queen. And you will remain little, as you’ll always be significantly smaller than this big body of mine, unless you start wearing ridiculously tall heels.”
She shakes her head slowly, but she’s entertained. She downs more wine. Her eyes are getting drowsier and her neck is wobbly, but I can tell that she’s caring less and less about her surroundings as well as her pains, which diminishes her anxiety.
“You are incorrigible, my love, but I love you anyway,” Alazne says.
“Let me tell you too that I know damn well how fragile life is, and also what awaits us on the other side. Well… The second-hand account that Kateryna has given us. Both of those points emphasize that all the races that most people around us are so focused on winning are ridiculous, pathological manifestations of their fear of death. Every effort to justify their existence, to build a legacy whether through children or some material work that they believe is going to survive the inevitable collapse of our civilization.”
“We call it the ‘pseudosocial order’ at the office,” Alazne answers as she chews on a mouthful of hake.
I have no idea what she’s talking about, but I think I’m getting tipsy too. Whatever. I drink more wine.
“I don’t believe in the future is what I mean, Alazne,” I say almost slurring, “only in being here with my lovely girlfriend whom I love more than life itself. The only future I care about is a succession of presents with you. Even if there are no other people, no acquaintances nor friends… Except ghosts, who know what’s up. Us three amigas eking out some dignified life while lost in a jungle overpopulated with irrational, homicidal monkeys.”
“I’ll drink to that,” Alazne says.
“I think we need to take it easy with the wine,” I say, caring very little.
My girlfriend drinks half of the glass she had almost filled to the brim. I need to remain sober. We might end up falling asleep on the train and then wake up in France.
Alazne wipes the wine from her lips with the back of her hand.
“You know how lucky you have been, Asier? You can hold those opinions because you didn’t have to work from eight in the morning to four in the afternoon or even later.”
“What, you mad, bro?”
“No, I’m just saying…”
“I know that people pretend that being a slave to the system is more dignified than escaping it, but that’s them being pussies. I don’t see how working for others makes you any more alive that not working at all.”
Alazne refrains from dirtying the back of her hand any further. She takes her napkin and dabs the corners of her mouth.
“I didn’t suggest that it was better to waste your time working. I just said you are lucky because you haven’t had to.”
I remain silent for a few seconds as I cut a piece of my steak.
“When I was younger… Well, I have retained some memories, after the accident and all that, of working in an office for a while when I was either twenty or twenty one. And it was shit. Humiliating, soul-killing garbage. You know how terrible it is to sit in an office while stewing in your anger because you want to murder your bosses but you can’t because the system would send you to jail?”
Alazne hiccups.
“How do you know that you would go to jail and not just get fired?”
“The system, man. The fucking criminal justice system will punish you if you try to kill your boss. I’m telling you, the world is a bad place.”
“You’re right,” Alazne says.
“These days you need the salaries of two fucking people to afford paying the rent and the utilities, and most of the remaining money you spend it on shoving food into your damn mouths. People return from work annoyed and weary. Do you think that’s conducive to a sustaining a stable relationship with your significant other? And where are the babies, the politicians ask. Swimming up your assholes!”
“If that were true, then there would be no relationships at all,” Alazne says.
Damn, she’s making a good enough point. I thought she was tipsier than me.
“You know what? You’re right,” I say. “I’m just scared of getting my hopes up again and being disappointed.”
“You will never have a worry-free life. I know I won’t.”
I try to talk before I have finished passing a bolus of steak through my esophagus, and I end up coughing a few times.
“What I mean is that after work I could only vegetate and rest enough so I would be mentally present when the next workday started. You know what I mean? And how many people do meaningful work? It’s invoices, auditing systems, snorting coke in the bathroom. Fucking Italians. None of that matters in the grand scheme of things. Ah, but every four years vote for this or that party of self-absorbed liars, who work for foreigners anyway. Are any of those parties defending the stuff that matters? Then the results come and people say, oh well, we’ll get to vote again in four years. How do you know that the elections are legitimate? Who is controlling those computers? It’s almost as if this modern world was built so most people would remain as poor and as burned out as possible. If they remained awake, they’d be out there loading their rifles.”
“If you go on like this, you’re going to make me depressed,” Alazne says, and then chuckles at her own joke.
I point at her with my fork, and part of the steak I had picked up falls back onto my plate.
“I feel lucky, yes, but that I can support you, and myself for that matter, without having to waste in some office the decades I have left to occupy this decaying body. We are both the lucky ones.”
She smiles, and we pick up our glasses to clink them together in a toast.

We leave the restaurant around four. As the time to get up and totter to the exit was approaching, I was surprised that the humidity hadn’t yet broken into rain. The breeze is uncomfortably cool, and imagine than much more for Alazne’s bare, shaven legs. I also need to make an effort to keep my back straight, because I have gotten pleasantly drunk. My Alazne holds on to my arm as if she fears getting lost.
“Alright, baby, let’s go home,” I say.
“No, I want to walk for a bit. That way.”
She’s pointing in the direction of Monte Igueldo. Our train station is in the opposite way.
“Are you sure, or is this your inebriation speaking? It might start raining any minute.”
“I want to walk with you. I missed you.”
She isn’t making much sense, but I love those big glazed eyes looking up at me, along with her drowsy smile. Ah, she’s so cute I just want to squeeze her in my arms until she pops.
I realize that in a corner of her mouth remains a crumb of the chocolate cake, sprinkled with chocolate chips, that we had for dessert. I lean down to snatch the crumb with the tip of my tongue, and after Alazne opens her wet mouth, I also shove my tongue in there for good measure. Her saliva tastes slightly like garlic and olive oil.
A man coughs behind us. I realize that we were blocking the exit as we made out without a care in the world. After we move to the side, a whole family of around eight people comes out. I wrap my arm around Alazne’s shoulders and we start walking towards Ondarreta beach.
“Well, I guess that if we get tired we can get on a bus.”
Alazne laughs through her nose. To my surprise she grabs my ass and squeezes it.
“And if it starts raining, you can always buy an umbrella with your millions of euros, mister.”
I laugh at her joke, and pull her closer to me. I wish she would keep squeezing my ass, to be honest.
A few people are strolling on the promenade along with us. On our right, beyond the slightly rusted balustrade, extends the La Concha beach. The wet sand looks like a wavy ring around the crashing waves, while on the dry sand remain the footsteps of beachgoers from previous days, as well as dogs. Some woman is throwing a broken branch so her canine slave can retrieve it for her, and not content with having received it back, she will keep throwing it over and over, confusing the inferior mind of the hapless dog. Some of the clouds are like big, cloudy breasts, and they look so low that it feels as if the whole sky is going to descend upon us slowly like some trap. I want to get squeezed into a paste by gargantuan breasts full of milk.
The flying seagulls are getting crazier as if announcing a disaster. The cars on the adjacent road keep zooming pass. Some vehicle’s speaker emits a ‘thumb thumb’, competing with the pounding of the waves.
I move Alazne’s hand away, but carefully.
“No, Alazne, that’s my dick,” I say.
“I know it is, silly. I want dick.”
“Not now, though. There are like joggers and shit passing by.”
“I don’t care…” she adds, but she doesn’t insist on fondling my genitals.
We have almost walked to the end of this beach. An inclined outcrop of bedrock has emerged out of the sand and looks like the soggy, fosilized pages of an ancient book. I smell the ocean whenever a wave crashes.
“Alazne, one of these days I want you to sit on the bed, then let me lean sideways on your lap so I can suck on your breasts. I want to suck on those round nipples of yours as if I were a baby. I want you to keep running your fingers through my hair and telling me that you care for me and love me so much.”
Alazne hugs me from the side, which makes me stagger. Her breasts are flattening against my ribcage. It doesn’t feel as if she’s wearing a bra.
“Alright, but only if you let me lie on your lap and suck on your dick as if it were a pacifier.”
“That sounds so good. So you want to be my little baby, huh?”
“Yes, of course,” she says drowsily.
“God, you are making me wet. I will end up licking you everywhere like a lollipop.”
“You’re so romantic…”
We reach the part of the promenade where the road enters a tunnel and where the pavement goes around an ivy-covered wall. We also end up walking through a tunnel with a roof that is painted as if some artist high on acid had tried to depict how the ocean would like if he were lying at the bottom. A black guy is sitting with his back against the wall of the tunnel to play the guitar, but nobody pays any attention. I hear him singing ‘imagine there’s no heaven…’ with a heavy Caribbean accent.
“There might be no heaven already,” I say to nobody as we exit the tunnel. “Maybe those people who move on dissolve into nothing. Phantom particles that return to the universe.”
“Who knows? I just hope there’s good music in the afterlife. Where to now?”
“What? You were the one who wanted to take a walk, sweetie.”
“So? You’re the one who’s been navigating.”
“You’re the one with the smartphone and the GPS app.”
“I will drive a truck straight into your guts and I will make a little home in there,” Alazne says.
“Yeah, I wish you could sleep inside me, so my organs could keep you warm.”
“If only you were a refrigerator…”
I point at the beach on our right.
“We are already at Ondarreta.”
“I am wherever I want to be.”
“I guess you wanted to be at Ondarreta, then.”
“How can you tell? Are we at the beach?”
“As you can see.”
“I thought we were already here. I don’t see any change.”
“Just look around. It’s a beach. You’re seeing the sea.”
“It’s just water,” Alazne says as she squints. “All I see is a whole lot of water. Is that all?”
“There’s also boats with masts like spiky dicks. They threw their anchors in the water to float in place and become traps for the monster pussies what would fall down from the sky.”
“Well, that’s original,” Alazne says.
“There is also a lot of sand.”
“Are there any monster pussies?”
“None that I can see,” I say, disappointed.
We are walking down a slope towards the main entrance of this beach. There’s a raised pool on the sand as if for small swimmers. Also an open shed that stores kayaks and around it some plastic garbage strewn about that look like toys.
Alazne points at an area of the sand a bit further ahead.
“Look, there’s a bunch of white and blue poles there.”
“Those are called flagpoles. You can attach a flag on them to claim land. There are also folded chairs paired with each of them.”
“We should found a new country,” Alazne says. “We could call it… the Nation of Alazne.”
“That’s a terrible name for a nation.”
“It’s a terrible name for a girl!” Alazne complains, and then sniffs.
“Well… It would be if you were a guy. And I’m glad you are not, I assure you.”
“You’re also not a guy, so how would you know?”
I shrug. I don’t think I ever was a guy. It’s not something I’m interested in.
“I just want to sit down and feel the sand under my feet and soles for a little while before I die.”
“What would I do without you?” Alazne asks me with a teary voice.
I put my arm around her shoulders as we continue walking, seemingly nowhere.
“You would found a country anyway,” I tell her.
“I would. A much better nation.”
“Of course, it would be the nation of us, and that’s the only one that matters. What would the national ethos be, though?”
“We would go for book publishing and trade, as well as exploration and mapping.”
“So it would be a nation that produces books about exploring and mapping the world?”
“Yes! We would be like… like Christopher Columbus, but less addicted to crack.”
“You should get that printed on a flag,” I tell her.
“What would be your job?”
“I don’t know. I’d be a ghost possessing every person about to die. I would guide them to the king of the afterlife, whom the newbie ghosts would duel against. If the newbie won, they would be able to dismantle the afterlife and set loose all the hopeless spirits back onto the plane of the living. It would be an Apocalypse.”
Alazne laughs and laughs and laughs. It’s nice, even if she sounds sick.
“That’s silly,” she says with a hoarse voice.
“It probably would’ve been a little too much for them to handle.”
There’s a small drop to the sand from the pavement, and we almost fall a couple of times. Thankfully we end up reaching the dwarf wall that delimits this side of Ondarreta beach. As we keep walking along it for no particular reason, I gasp, then point at a particular segment of the dwarf wall.
“We sat there after we escaped the Monte Igueldo amusement park, remember? We sat there and you cried and we made out and everything.”
“I’m a crybaby,” Alazne says while a tear jumps from her eye.
“You can cry all you want. I will drink your tears.”
I stop her for a moment and turn her towards me. I kiss her as the waves crash against the wall below.
“I’m sure you’ll outlive me,” I tell her.
“Nooo, don’t say that. How do you know?”
“You have too much ahead of you. You’re only just beginning to live, and I’m already ending.”
“I want to die when you die. We should both die at the same time.”
I don’t know what to say, but I nod. I keep hugging Alazne for a bit as she cries silently against my neck. She pulls away, wipes her tears and grabs my hand.
“Ah, you were guiding me to the Peine del Viento, right…?”
“I wasn’t guiding you anywhere.”
“We can go then.”
I shrug. I pull Alazne closer and put my arm around her waist. We pass in front of fenced tennis courts where villa-on-a-hill rich people hit each other’s balls. I don’t know where the hell I’m going, but I have Alazne so it doesn’t matter. The sun is setting and the first stars are already starting to twinkle in the sky. No, what am I saying, it’s like five in the afternoon.
We leave behind a building that looks like a sports center. This is the end of the road, and the Peine del Viento starts. Apart from a bunch of people drinking coffee at the outside tables of a bar right next to the entrance, nobody cares about this place. From here we can finally see the horrifying flatness of the horizon, where the grey clouds meet the pigeon blue waters as separated as if they were oil and water. Alazne trips on the first step into the plaza, art installation or whatever it is, and she falls on her knees. I help her up.
“My knees hurt,” she complains.
“I will rub them later.”
The sea is getting nastier, throwing waves against the only wall that separates us from its anger. I could swear it’s starting to drizzle as well. Alazne and I keep venturing further into the Peine. We go straight to look at the artsy holes in the floor. Whenever a big wave crashes against the rocks under the square, the pressure or whatever shoots up a stream of saltwater up those tubes, which sounds and looks like a whale’s water spout, although I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a whale. So if you were stupid enough to stand there looking down at the holes, the blast would penetrate through your nostrils and shatter your brain. I have no idea who thought it was a good idea to install this ghastly implement out here in the open, but I suppose it’s a testament to how little most people care about others.
Alazne stands unsteadily next to the dwarf wall and is staring at the sea while the waves keep pounding against the rocks. Someone, I guess some artist, inserted rusted iron beams into the most prominent rocks around, which remain out of reach, and bent the beams so they kind of look like they represent bulls, if you are drunk.
“Don’t stand so close to the edge, Alazne. Some wave might come and take you away.”
“I don’t give a shit about anything anymore.”
“You don’t speak for Alazne, demon! Come here, Alazne.”
My girlfriend walks away from the edge and stumbles towards me.
“I’m scared.”
I wrap my arms around her shoulders and embrace her.
“You have to be strong,” I tell her. “Let’s go sit down somewhere.”
We end up approaching the end of this place, and also of all things. Standing so close to the edge of the world, whenever a wave explodes against the wall, particles of its foam splash our faces. It’s also drizzling. The waters below are different layers of foam sliding over each other and exchanging bubbles. It looks like carbonated cum.
“I’m tired, Asier,” Alazne says in a high-pitched, weak voice. “Let’s sit.”
I sit on the cold, humid rock of a bench that looks more like an enormous step in a stair to nowhere. I pat my lap.
“Come here, sweetie. Straddle me, hug me tight.”
Alazne sits on my lap and wraps her arms around my neck. I hold her head against my chest and caress her hair. I smell the scent of her ear and feel its shape inside my palm. The cold breeze blows.
“Look at that seagull above us. It’s been circling us for a while now, as if looking for someone to shit on.”
“I don’t want to look at anything,” Alazne says, although sounding as if she’s too comfy to bother.
The waves keep going in and out. In and out. In and out.
“Asier, it’s raining,” Alazne says.
“Yeah. Whatever. Hey, do you remember how you felt when you woke up this morning, all depressed?”
“Do you still feel that way?”
“Well, do you want to go back home, or do you want to stay here with me?”
“I want to stay here with you forever,” she says.
“Then let’s do that. I’m not going anywhere, and neither are you.” I bury my face in her hair, which caresses my nose. “I feel so good with you, Alazne. So many happy moments you have given me.”
“You make me happy too.”
“These good moments can paint over the grey of dozens of years. You don’t understand it as well as I do. One day we will die and we won’t know real colors nor tastes nor smells anymore. We will only have the memories of the good times in the back of our minds. I will be able to stand there in the hopeless fade and say to myself that I was here with you and that I felt this way. Our little flame will keep us warm. Without each other we would drift forever, we would only open our mouths to scream at the dark.”
I close my eyes and hold her cheek against my face. I hear her breathing deeply. Rainwater is trickling down my neck.
“I had a dream that we were a family, Asier,” Alazne murmurs next to my ear. “I didn’t have to think about it, I saw myself holding our little baby girl.”
I keep quiet. My heart swells up and my throat feels parched.
“I know that can’t happen,” she says in a low voice, “and it’s fine. I’m not asking for anything from you, Asier. I’m just letting you know how I feel.”
I hold her tighter.
“A little baby us, huh?” I say softly.
“A short, chubby baby with the biggest hazel eyes in the world.”
“I used to feel that the world had nothing for me. It was a foreign beast that would walk by and one day die without me being able to do anything but watch. But now I’ve thought of where to be, and the things to see… I feel like I can live, and every little part of it you gave it to me.”
“I’m so glad to hear that, Alazne,” I say, then I wipe away a few tears.
A man and a woman walking their dog pass us by and give us a glance. The woman smiles at us. They leave.
“So I need you to put a baby inside me now,” Alazne says.
“I don’t want to be a virgin anymore.”
I feel myself sobering up quickly.
“Alazne, are you looking forward to having a baby because you want us to become a family, or because if we have a baby together we are that less likely to leave each other?”
She snuggles her face into my neck for a few seconds.
“B-both, maybe…”
“You want a gremlin growing inside you, turning you into a beast, and possibly ripping you apart as it enters this broken world?”
“It felt right to hold my baby.”
“They are a pain in the ass. They cry all day, they poop all over themselves, and they only stop when they’re hungry. You have to feed them every two hours. It’s basically like having a second job, but worse because you can’t even get drunk at the end of the day.”
“If you’re with me, I’ll manage. If I’m with you, you’ll manage.”
“A baby is not the means for something else. My parents had a baby because they were told to and because they couldn’t stand each other. They fucked everything up. They cursed me to exist.”
“I’m not your mom. I’ll always be here.”
I stare at her face in front of mine. There’s a whole person inside that robot made out of flesh and bone, and it’s looking back at me.
“Alright. Not today, though.”

My Own Desert Places, Pt. 23 (GPT-3 fueled short)

I powered through my dizziness as well as a churning in my gut to wait for Alazne’s writing class to end. I stand in front of the church as the heterogeneous group of wannabe writers exits the nearby library, and I spot Alazne nodding shily to a forty something years old woman before they part ways. As soon as Alazne locates me, she heads towards me with an enchanting smile. A wave of warmth washes out some of the sickly feeling I had been stuck with since I stopped writing my memoir for the day.
Alazne gives me a hug, but when she pulls away to kiss me on the lips, merely looking at my face from up close stops her. Her smile drops.
“My love, what’s wrong? You look as if you are about to vomit.”
I force my mouth to display the best reassuring smile my dizziness allows me.
“I got into it too much while writing down my memories. It’s alright, it’ll pass. I just wish we were home already, though…”
Alazne’s expression gets serious.
“Can you call a taxi? I don’t think it would be good for us to walk home now. I can tell you are putting on a tough front. Let’s sit somewhere…”
Alazne takes me by the arm and guides me to a dwarf wall next to the church, a wall that starts out at shin height but that some meters down the street raises to head height due to the slope of the street. We sit down. I take out the phone to call a taxi, but as I search the number, I want to dispel my girl’s worry.
“I’m just a bit dizzy, nothing to worry about. How did your first writing class go?”
Alazne rubs the back of my neck. It feels good, but as if she were my mother. This threatens to screw up the dynamic of our relationship. Very few women are interested in dating their own sons.
“I will tell you all about my first day in writing class, but only as soon as your face stops looking so pale. For now let’s make sure that a taxi will come get us.”
I get in contact with the taxi company, and the dispatcher assures me that one of their cars will arrive soon.
Alazne keeps caressing my neck and my shoulders under my shirt. It feels real good, but I don’t want her to look at me with that pity.
“Are you sure this isn’t related to your head wound?” she asks anxiously. “Your general practitioner is going to check you out in a few days, right?”
“Well, at least I hope she checks on me, yes. Sweetie, this has nothing to do with the car accident, I assure you. It’s just that recalling some events of my distant past really fucked me up. Some of those dark moments aren’t compatible with the peaceful life I intend to live in the present.”
Alazne seems unconvinced. During the ride back home, she keeps caressing the back of my neck and whispering in my ear that we’ll reach our home soon and that I’ll get better in no time. I’m sure that my sex appeal keeps lowering the more Alazne pampers me, but I can’t care much right now as I try to absorb all her soothingness.
Once I finally close our house’s front door behind me, I take a deep breath of relief. It’s as if we had docked our boat after spending hours seasick. We walk into the living room to leave our laptop bags on the dining table, and Alazne and I spot in front of one of the sofas that two candles are hovering while orbiting an invisible point.
“Ah, Kateryna,” I say. “Everything okay?”
The candles fall down slowly towards the coffee table, and they land upright. The planchette resting on the center of the nearby ouija board twitches, and then spells out HELLO BOTH. After a couple of seconds, the planchette adds TRAINING.
“It’s so good that you can keep yourself entertained, Kat,” I say.
HEY IM NOT A TODDLER, the planchette spells out.
“Oh, I know,” I reply, amused. “I was thinking that we could celebrate that Alazne joined the course. How about joining us later in this living room for some drinks, just you, me and Alazne?”
I DONT DRINK, the planchette spells out. BAD FOR THE LIVER.
Alazne approaches me and puts her hands on my chest. She looks up at me with her big, hazel eyes, full of trust.
“You are somewhat serious, right?” Alazne asks me coyly. “Tonight’s fresh start calls for some drinking?”
“It calls for some celebration, surely.”
Alazne stands on her tiptoes, closes her eyes and kisses me on the lips with such love that I want to carry her to bed like a princess. She narrows her eyes and raises one side of her mouth.
“You are looking much better, Asier. Let’s go take a shower.”
A ball of tingles bursts in my crotch. I contain a shiver. I have been waiting since I woke up this morning to hold Alazne in my arms as I fill her with this stolen cock of mine. It seems that an hour and a half of nausea was worth it.
“Yeah, let’s,” I agree with a hungry voice as if I were starving. I look over my shoulder towards the planchette. “Hey, Kat, how about I play some music for you while we keep busy?”
Alazne is prancing into the hallway with an uncharacteristic joy. Ah, this will turn out to be a beautiful day.
I pull my laptop out of its bag, then I switch it on so I can distract our resident ghost with some music, in case a conspicuous chill envelops us in the middle of fucking and my and Alazne’s arm hair raises.
“Joanna Newsom it is, then,” I say.
I’m already getting hard out of anticipation. As the generously long album ‘Have One on Me’, perfect for my current purposes, starts softly, I say goodbye to my dead friend and I almost run to the bathroom. Alazne is already standing inside, her bare feet sunken into the polyester rug. She’s only wearing her burgundy lace underwear, with an intrincate floral pattern. I can almost see her round nipples through the fabric. As Alazne admitted, although she didn’t need to, before we met each other she hadn’t been into buying sexy underwear, as she barely wanted to look at herself in the mirror, but now it gives her a rush to show her pale, freckled curves to someone who wants to devour her whole. She looks exquisite, and that shy, submissive glance of hers only makes me harder.
My heart feels like it’s going to explode. I don’t blink once as I undress myself down to my boxers. They couldn’t contain my erection, and it’s poking up at a forty-five five degree angle to my belly.
When Alazne takes my hand, her delicate fingers twitch. A blush is spreading across her cheeks.
“Come here,” she whispers.
We both take a small step forward. I grab her around her bare waist, and as Alazne stands on her tiptoes she wraps her arms around my shoulders so that our groins meet. She pushes them together, making sure that the shaft of my cock is pressing into the folds of her pussy through the fabric of her panties. Her eyes go white for a moment as she bites her lower lip. Then she kisses me with a hunger I’ll never get used to while gripping my hair with her fists.
I can barely contain myself. A moan rumbles in my throat, and my hands glide up from her soft ass cheeks to the waistline of her panties.
“Wait,” she whispers, gently pulling her face away from me. “Let’s get under a warm shower. But first, take off my underwear.”
Excitedly, I lower to my knee as I hook my fingers on her waistband. There’s a wet spot on her burgundy panties where the fabric covers her vulva. I take a deep breath, filling my lungs with her scent, before hooking my thumbs on both sides of the elastic and sliding them down her smooth thighs, over her knees, past her calves. Alazne kicks her panties off. I remain kneeling, intoxicated, my mouth salivating, as I stare at the soft, light brown pubes and her wet cleft. The lips are parted, and the hood of her clitoris is peeking out from between her swollen labia.
Before I know it I’m bringing my wet tongue closer to her little button, but Alazne’s legs tremble, and she places her palm on my forehead to stop me.
“No, not yet,” she says, breathing hard. “Take off my bra, and then let’s get into the shower.”
I rise to my feet as Alazne’s hands run over the muscles of my arms, shoulders, and chest, feeling the contours of my body through my skin as if she was blind. I unhook her bra and slide it off one of her arms, while with her other she fondles my cock through my boxers. I’m only containing myself because my girlfriend wants me to. Otherwise I would drag her to our bed and give it to her hard until she passed out. Having been blue-balled this morning really fucked with me, and now I have no idea if I will be able to last more than a couple of minutes.
After I take off my boxers, Alazne turns around and presents her ass to me, which is shaped like an upside-down heart, as she turns the shower on. She’s messing with the handle to set the right temperature for the water which is already splashing her hair. Before I know it I’m squeezing my cock against one of her ass cheeks as I, bent over, hug Alazne from behind and cup her breasts.
Alazne lets out a moan and backs her ass against my crotch for a moment, but as if she remembered that she was planning something else, she straightens her back and steps into the shower.
“Come, my love. It’s already warm.”
“So am I. Scorching, I’d say. I’ve been wanting to come inside you since I woke up this morning,” I manage to say with a beastly voice.
I get in the bathroom to stand behind my girlfriend’s back. My feet are submerged in water that is a few degrees hotter than I would have chosen, not that I care much about it now. Alazne’s shoulders slope down her back in a divine curve that blends with the globes of her ass. She takes a bottle of violet-scented liquid soap and pours a bit onto her hand, then she turns around and hands me the bottle. Alazne’s beautiful hazel eyes are glistening as warm water runs down her face.
“You clean me, I clean you. A fair trade, yes?” she says with a smile, then she licks some saliva that was about to trickle from the corner of her mouth. “Lather my skin up real good.”
I stare at her with lustful eyes as I rub the soapy foam on her belly, then move on to her tits, which I knead gently while her hard nipples bend against my palms. Then I go back down to her belly again, and dig into her belly button with my soapy finger as if it were my tongue.
“You have the sexiest body in the world, Alazne,” I say. “I want to devour it whole, not leave a single bone.”
I don’t wait for her to react, I just lean in and kiss her on the lips. She grants me access to her mouth and I penetrate it with my tongue while the shower water streams down around our joined lips. Slowly, she pushes me away with her slippery palms.
“You are breathing too hard, and I can tell that you are inhaling shower water. I wouldn’t want you to drown,” she says playfully, even though desire is twisting her mouth.
“That’s very considerate of you. Drowning is horrible. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.”
I hug her as I bend my legs slightly so she can rest her chin on my trapezius muscle, and I lather her ass cheeks with soap. She clenches them as soon as my hands get close to her asshole, as if fearing instinctively I might try to sneak a finger into it.
“What’s wrong?” I ask teasingly as I rub the foam off her ass. “Don’t want me to play with your virgin hole?”
She lets out a whimper of excitement.
“Never. I am a good girl with an intact ass.”
Oh no, that shiver tells me all I need to know. I shouldn’t have teased her about it. I we end up in bed after this, I wouldn’t be surprised if she lies face down and slides a couple of pillows under her belly.
I bend down lower to wash the back of her tighs and her calves. I straighten my back and turn her around. She’s breathing hard through her mouth, and her eyes are glazed as she follows my movements.
I want to clarify the whole asshole issue.
“Your pussy is already warm, wet and welcoming, Alazne. And self-lubricating.”
“Would stop talking dirty to me…?” she says in a sultry voice as she washes my neck and my chest, fondling them along the way.
“No way. Let go of the guilt that weighs you down and embrace the beast inside you. I am not talking dirty; I am staring deep into your soul and seeing you true nature.”
I pour more violet-scented soap on my hand and I draw spirals on her belly with the liquid, slowly moving them down to her bush. She spreads her legs and pushes herself backwards in such a way that for a moment I fear she will slip and fall. I reach with my free hand to hold the back of her waist.
“Yes, yes,” Alazne whispers excitedly. “Down there.”
The sudsy white foam is already in contact with her juices. Fuck it. I won’t hear any more excuses. I crouch down and I close my lips around her swollen clit.
“Ah, ah, ah! Fuck. Yes!” she screams as she grabs my ears.
I thrust my tongue inside her pussy with no preamble. Alazne tries to move away from me without much effort, but I hold her in place with both hands. I knead her trembling ass cheeks as I lick her clit in circles. She squeezes her thighs together trapping my jaw between them, then she cries out like an animal. I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few seconds Kateryna’s characteristic chill gives me goosebumps as our little voyeur joins the fun.
Alazne hums in a low tone as I continue pleasuring her. Her groans become louder, and she’s so wet that despite all the water of the shower dripping from us, I can tell apart her distinct juices running down my chin. Her vagina pulsates against my tongue. I lather soap all over her thighs, her knees and calves as Alazne trembles in ecstasy.
Kateryna must have sneaked in, because I feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, as well as someone staring intently from the middle of the bathroom at my efforts. Having our ghost roommate watching Alazne and I fuck only makes it more exciting.
“I’m going to come all over your face,” Alazne says in a hoarse voice as she trembles into an orgasm. “Y-you are going to love it…”
I dig my fingers in the soft flesh of her ass cheeks while I lick her throbbing clit frantically. With a high-pitched yelp, Alazne tightens her grip on my head as her legs shake as if she’s about to fall. I keep flitting my tongue around her button. Alazne finally slides her palms to my forehead, and pushes me away slightly. When I stand up, my girlfriend’s wet hair is dishevelled and she’s wheezing as if she might pass out. Her legs don’t stop trembling. I hug her mainly to hold her up, and I’m about to ask her if that was too much, but she takes my chest hair in her hands, leans forward and licks my lips with her hot tongue. She then takes mine into her mouth and sucks on it gently.
“I love you,” she mumbles with my tongue between her lips, her eyes shining.
This girl… I’ve fallen for her so damn hard that it hurts.
After a few seconds we stop making out.
“How do you like the taste of your own juices?” I ask her.
“I love it. I want more,” she says, her voice turning into a growl.
“Every time I eat you out from now own, I will hold a cup under your pussy so I can collect every ounce of your juices that I don’t get to drink. After you come, you will gulp it down.”
Alazne chuckles at what she knows to be a joke, or hopes that’s the case at least, but I see in her eyes a hint of something dark, feral. I want to bring it closer and closer to the surface over the passing days, months, years.
I hadn’t noticed that Alazne was pouring soap on her hand until she grabs my erect cock and starts lathering the length of it. My eyes close as a jolt of electricity runs through my spine. With how Alazne is working the underside of my glans, I might come in seconds. Her palms are soft as the finest silk as they glide up and down my sensitive skin. She’s pressing the tip of her tongue to her upper lip, concentrated as she is on jerking me off.
I cup her face with my hand intending to ask her to stop, because I suspect my knees are going to buckle and I will end up embarrassing myself, but Alazne keeps polishing my cock while staring defiantly into my eyes.
“Alazne,” I groan as I feel that familiar warmth spread through the lower half of my body.
My girl keeps stroking me even as I come. The first ropes of semen land on her abdomen, but one hits her cleavage. I moan as the last drops are squeezed out of my tip.
I must have lost consciousness for a moment, although some instinctive processes in my brain kept holding my body straight, because the next thing I experience is the sound of my girlfriend popping open a bottle of shampoo. She then pours some of the liquid on my hair.
“We need to keep that hair shiny and strong,” she says with a sleepy voice.
I’m out of it. I can’t tell the words coming out of my mouth as Alazne sensually rubs the shampoo onto my hair. It’s a good thing she is here to take care of me.

We stand in front of the mirror as I finish drying Alazne’s hair with a towel. I can’t tear my gaze away from her naked body in the reflection.
“You almost emptied that bottle of conditioner in my hair,” she says, but there’s a twinkle in her eye.
“I want to give you a little extra of everything. It feels good to pamper you.”
I address our ghost roommate, as her bubble of cold air maneuvered around us when we got out of the shower.
“I hope you enjoyed the show, Kateryna. That was the first time we made each other come while standing up in the shower. I’m not sure if my legs will take that often.”
Kat can’t answer, as we didn’t put a ouija board in the bathroom, but I feel her gaze sliding along the countour of my naked body. I guess she’s getting an eyeful of Alazne’s as well. I know damn well that as a ghost, even some of the otherwise ugly bodies can look like treasures just out of reach.
I’m bending over to grab my boxers, which I had thrown carelessly, but Alazne puts her palm under my lower jaw as if wanting me to straighten my back again. She’s staring at me with her eyes narrowed, almost drowsy, while she raises one side of her mouth in a smirk.
“Are you going to cover yourself? Weren’t you going to give your girl a treat, d-daddy…?”
Even though I came really hard, her lewdness makes me wake up again. I slide my hand from her shoulder to her waist, and I guide her, both naked, to the master bedroom. I can tell that Kateryna keeps staring at us from behind.
“I intended to give you a new treat after you were so brave this afternoon. Lie on the bed, face down.”
Kateryna’s presence continues to make me horny, as she’s always around when we have sex. I’m one lucky bitch.
Alazne presents her ass deliberately while she climbs onto the bed. Once half of her face rests on the matress, she closes her eyes and smiles softly.
“Do whatever you want with me,” she says.
The mound of her ass is tempting me to take control and fuck her from behind like an animal. I bet Alazne would go wild as well. But I had planned something more soothing after the anxiety she forced herself to tolerate since she decided to attend the writing course. I get on the bed and I straddle her lower back. Alazne shivers, then lets out a noise of anticipation.
“D-do you want to fuck me in the ass…?”
“No! I mean, not… today. I have been watching a certain kind of ASMR-like YouTube videos recently, and I wanted to test them on your nubile flesh.”
Alazne’s face lights up, and she smiles pleasantly as her body goes limp.
“Do your worst, daddy…”
I swallow. To begin with, I realize that I’m straddling her in the wrong place, so I scoot back on my knees until my still hard dick hangs close enough to Alazne’s asshole to make me look like an asshole. But as I put my weight on my knees, I place my palms on my girlfriend’s lower back and I slide them slowly up the slope to her shoulders, feeling the contour of her muscles and bones along the way. Alazne hums with satisfaction.
“It feels so good when you do that…” she admits.
I realize that from the living room, sounding like a half-imagined song from the fifties, comes Joanna Newsom’s voice as she sings a song I don’t recognize now. From time to time the Californian songwriter’s voice sounds like air getting squeezed out of a balloon, but that’s part of the charm, I suppose.
I take the opportunity to massage Alazne’s muscles with a light pressure, pressing on her trapezius and giving small circular motions around her scapula. Alazne sighs with pleasure, and I imagine I can see the stress slipping out of her body as she exhales. I kiss the back of her neck, then slowly continue caressing her bare skin with my warm hands. I keep repeating the swimming-like motions over her undeveloped muscles and the joints. It just happens that it also allows me to fondle her body at my leisure, which I always want to do with no particular excuse.
“T-there… Yes, keep doing it just there,” she says.
I comply, and following her comments I find out it helps if I gently scratch the skin with the edge of my nails in some parts. She loves the tingling sensations across her back, but nothing compares to when I start drawing small circles around her tense shoulder muscles. When I hit the bull’s eye and she lets out a long, quavering moan, an electric current runs down my spine. I’m suddenly aware that my cock has been steadily hardening.
Alazne turns around, even kneeing me in the thigh, to lie on her back and face me. Saliva is trickling across her cheek. My eyes move by themselves to ogle her hard, round nipples. It’s just too bad that I can’t ask her to let me suck on them for an hour. I want to be her baby.
“I want you inside me,” Alazne says, then lifts her legs up and spreads them apart enough so that the head of my penis hovers just over her pussy, which is already leaking onto the sheets.
“But I have barely started massaging you…” I say, unsure.
The corners of her mouth twitch upwards, and she makes a grab for my ass.
“Now massage my insides,” she says, slowly lowering me into herself.

I open the front door for the pizza delivery man, who turns out to be not a man and instead a small South American woman in her forties. She leans slightly to look into my living room, because Alazne is playing The Velvet Underground’s ‘I Found A Reason’ on the guitar as well as singing, caring so little that strangers might hear her as only someone who has orgasmed three times in the last hour could be. After the delivery woman hands me the warm box, I give her twenty euros and tell her to keep the change. My mouth is flooding with saliva even before I open the box and the steamy scent of a freshly baked bacon pizza hits me in the face with the strength of a heavyweight.
“Thank you for bringing us our food!” I say cheerfully to the delivery woman. “You have done a good deed today. Would you like some pizza?”
“I mean, I am hungry…”
“Dig in then.”
She nods eagerly and takes a slice from the box. As the random woman eats it contently, I do regret it for a moment, because more pizza for others is less pizza for me, but I can’t help but feel generous when life is treating me this well.
“I’ll leave you alone now,” the delivery woman says. “Thank you so much for the tip, sir!”
Oh yeah, I did allow her to keep the change too.
“You’re welcome. And good luck with everything,” I say as I close the door behind her.
I walk into the living room while I hold the steaming pizza. Alazne stops playing, a sure sign of how hungry she is. She leaves the guitar aside. Once I plop onto the sofa next to my beloved, she snatches a slice and holds it slightly over her holy mouth so the strands of melted cheese land on her tongue. I immediately start thinking about sex again. It’s nothing but sinful urges within me, either for Alazne’s body or for pizza.
We barely pay attention to how random objects, including a small clock, a pen, a packet of guitar strings and the TV remote, jump around as our ghost keeps throwing them in the air and catching them. She already was a master poltergeister when I met her, back when she nearly obliterated my testicles with a projectile, but now she’s improved. I feel sorry for the testicles of whoever she targets next. Given that Kateryna seems sadly unlikely to move on to the beyond, it’s only a matter of when: she will end up killing someone, for sure. It makes me proud, like a mother with a talented daughter, not to mention exceptionally hot.
“I’m so proud of you,” I say to Kateryna.
A clock that was falling in a parabolic arc stops in the air, then it descends quickly until it rests on the table. The planchette spells out AWW.
“You were very quiet right until now, my love. Is everything alright?” Alazne asks with a mouth full of food.
“I’m just sleepy, I guess. But you never got to tell how your first writing class went!”
“It went great. The teacher, a famous horror and science-fiction writer called Guillermo del Toro, thought my story was good.”
“Woah, you know Guillermo del Toro now! What a completely believable development!”
She giggles.
“You tell me first how writing your experiences went. I’m sure you wrote more than me!”
As it happens whenever my past ends up becoming part of a conversation with Alazne, I have to fight so it doesn’t ruin my mood. I’m happy as long as I don’t need to face that I am deceiving the love of my life into believing that I’m a man, instead of a woman who has been dead for twenty years. That’s the nature of the dangerous game I’m playing here. Fortunately I can keep munching pizza until I feel ready to answer.
“Well… I can tell you that it has turned into a confession.” What the hell am I saying?! I’m way too relaxed from fucking. “I mean, I tell everything I remember, and there’s some… sad stuff in there, I guess.”
“Sad stuff like what? Your relationships with ex-girlfriends?”
Now I must choose. I’ll confess if the probability of a happy ending is above twenty five percent.
“There’s some of that, yes. What I… remember from my days as a high school student, and my family…”
“Something about Irene as well?”
I’m startled. Alazne is well aware that the last time she brought up how it bothered her that I withheld information about this Irene person, I did open up about having lost most of my memories in that car accident, but I still failed to mention anything about Irene. She might have ended up feeling that me confessing my memory loss, which to be accurate is a deception, was a way to distract her from opening up about Irene. However, Alazne seems curious now, not concerned.
“Yeah, that Irene…” I start with difficulty. “Is someone from the past who I wish had never existed. It’s a whole bunch of bad memories and regrets and guilt I have to carry with me for as long as my consciousness lasts.”
Alazne leaves her half-eaten slice on the box, and cleans her fingers with her mouth. I guess she expects me to clarify the Irene enigma now.
“That’s… much more than you ever told me about this person. I know you aren’t cheating on me with her, but obviously I can hardly be more interested in someone that both you and Kateryna keep quiet about…”
I chuckle bitterly, then rest my forearms on my knees.
“It’s impossible to cheat with someone whose body has been rotting for around twenty years, unless I were a necrophiliac, and I’m not sure if they ever found her. Last I knew of her, the fishes were biting her drowned corpse.”
Alazne brings her hand to her mouth.
Something hits the floor loudly, startling us both. It’s Alazne’s glass of Coca-Cola. Given how a small clock rests face down where the glass used to be, Kateryna must have banged into it by mistake.
The planchette is quick to spell out OOPS.
I sigh.
“It’s alright, Kat.”
Alazne had drank most of her Coca-Cola, but a puddle of it remains on the hardwood floor. I was bending over to grab the glass when it lifts out of reach, and it lands carefully on the table. The planchette spells out SORRY SPILLS ARE BEYOND MY GHOSTLY POWERS.
“I doubt it will eat through the floor like some acid blood. I’ll wipe it up later.”
“Kateryna, did you know that Irene was dead?” Alazne asks directly.
Damn it, I shouldn’t have opened up about Irene in front of our ghost. I hold my breath, anxious about what Kateryna might answer.
Alazne scoots closer to me, then puts a hand on my shoulder. I turn my head to face her understanding expression, so full of love.
“I see… This is a matter of guilt, isn’t it? From very long ago,” she says quietly.
I can’t help but laugh. It’s a hollow laugh.
“You could say that. I…”
My throat closes. I rub my cheeks as I try to think what to say, or if I even want to talk about it.
“She killed herself, didn’t she,” Alazne says.
“Yeah. Yeah, she did,” I say more ruefully than I intended. “A girl who had never been in love, that nobody cared about, who couldn’t see a future in this world. She did it to herself.”
“W-were you her boyfriend?” Alazne asks, sounding as if she feels bad for asking.
“No, just someone who was always close to her and who would have preferred a better ending for her sad life.”
“I’m sorry.” After a few seconds of silence that I spend looking down at the spill of Coca-Cola, Alazne talks again. “I reminded you of Irene, didn’t I? Back when you met me.”
I’m startled. I straighten my back and I stare at Alazne dumbfounded. I want to deny it, but… what if Alazne’s lonely guitar playing did remind me of the one person I truly came to know and whom I wasn’t able to save?
“You hadn’t thought about it…” Alazne says while smiling softly.
“See, that’s something that maybe a therapist might be able to help with, not that I would bother. I don’t know if Irene’s death did influence me falling in love with you. The fact is that I love you, and that’s as much as I care about that.”
She puts her arm across my shoulders and leans in for a kiss. The moments our lips touch, I forget all about ghosts and suicide.
“But hell, Alazne,” I say, fake mad. “I opened up about Irene, but I only got to learn that your writing teacher is Guillermo del Toro.”
She giggles.
“There wasn’t much to my first class. I met a few new people, got to listen to their creative exercises, and I realized that I can survive in a room filled with strangers without collapsing on myself. I was super anxious, though.”
“I’m glad you went.”
Alazne grabs her half-eaten slice of pizza and takes a big bite. She hasn’t finished munching when she goes on about her experience.
“Yeah. I don’t know how I would have handled being alone with my thoughts for one more day. I got to learn that Guillermo del Toro is a very nice man who just wants to help us grow as writers, and he will give us all tips on making a story come alive through the reader’s mind. Now I can sleep peacefully, knowing I have a second chance at life.”
“So you can state wild lies with a deadpan expression. I’ll need to be careful, it seems.”
Alazne laughs through her nose.
“So…” I start. “Any male classmates about your age have asked for your hand in marriage already?”
“Nobody interacted with me that much, although they were glad to get a new classmate. Other people can get nervous as well, it’s not so easy to approach strangers. But no, I already have a prince of my own. Why, are you jealous? You were the one who taught me all about jealousy, after all.”
“Actually, yes.”
Alazne giggles. I can’t get enough of that sound. I insist about my wishes, though.
“I often wish for other men to disappear so there was no chance anyone else would try to get in your pants. But then again… I would need to get rid of many of the women as well.”
“I’m not sure if I should be flattered or scared.”
“Both,” I reply as I shrug. “Anyway… How’s the writing course going, damn it? Did you write something?”
“Yes,” she says, smiling. “I have several stories from different genres and styles. I’m going through them and polishing them up. Then, I will choose my favorite stories to turn them tinto full-length novels which I will then submit to a publisher.”
I chuckle, then drink some grape juice.
“Alright, can you tell me if your teacher asked you to write something in class? And, please, no wild lies.”
“Oh, that,” Alazne says. “Yes. It was… actually pretty stupid. The teacher said we could write whatever we wanted, so I wrote a story about a person who had a car accident, and it gave me some ideas for horror stories.”
“I wonder where you got that first concept from… Horror stories, huh? Like what?”
“Like, what if you were a kid hanging out with you two childhood friends inside a walled city and suddenly some huge monster peeked over the wall?”
“That does sound pretty good. They do say to write what you know, after all.”
Alazne snorts.
“Or what if you were forced to defend the city walls from an enemy onslaught and you had to use the severed heads of fallen soldiers as cannonballs?”
“Ew. I think you need to have a chat with Guillermo del Toro about these stories. Any other hits that your pretty brain came up with?”
“What if you were in the army and had to cross a bridge that would only support two people at a time, while the enemy was shooting arrows from the opposite bank of the river?”
“I see. Primarily horror, but with some action and drama. For some reason a military force is present in all three concepts. Anything else?”
“What if you were on a road trip with two friends and had to stop at a creepy hotel run by a blind lady, and while you’re eating dinner you realize that one of your friends is a ghost?”
I scratch the back of my head.
“Alright, a story about someone close to you being a ghost all along, that’s… that’s pretty good. Four out of four, Alazne. Can you hit me with a fifth concept?”
“What if you were on a road trip and had to spend a night in a motel, but the motel was run by ghosts and there was a ten minute time loop, so you had to find clues in order to escape?”
I raise my eyebrows and nod eagerly.
“I kind of love that one. A road trip and ghosts again, for some reason.”
“It’s the first thing that came to mind,” Alazne says bashfully.
I stand up wearily as I avoid stepping on the spill.
“I better clean this stuff before it eats through the hardwood floor. Hey, Kateryna, do you also have a pitch for a story, by any chance?”
The planchette spells out YEAH.
“Well?” I ask expectantly.
Kateryna moves a candle through the air so it lands on the back of the clock that was lying face down. The planchette then spells out WHAT IF A CANDLE WAS LIGHTED WHEN NOBODY WAS HOME AND THEN THE WHOLE PLACE BURNED DOWN.
I smile weakly.
“OK, um, I’ll remember that. And I’ll also sleep with one eye open.”
“Alright, I’m going to get the mop.”

Note from May of 2021:

I guess this was the ‘hanging out with Alazne and Kateryna’ episode.

My Own Desert Places, Pt. 22 (GPT-3 fueled short)

I didn’t want to bother involving medical staff in my ghost-related problems. The only information I would be interested in gleaning is how exactly does a ghost who came from a female body interact with the brain of a male body. But I doubt doctors would be able to help me with that. I would need a doctor in ghostology, likely one who had been a ghost himself, and that’s unlikely to happen when most people don’t even believe that ghosts are real.
I had no idea how to ask a hospital to schedule a MRI. I found the phone number for the general information service of Osakidetza and told them I needed to get my brain looked at because it might be rotting. They told me to schedule a medical appointment with my general practitioner, even though I didn’t know I had one. I navigated their website and I ended up with a medical appointment at the local hospital in Hondarribia, but I wouldn’t have to go for a few days. This was going to be a bother, but still, I didn’t want my girlfriend to worry about my well-being.
Finding a writing course that Alazne could attend was far easier. They teach introduction to creative writing at the library located in old town, and people are free to join the course midway. For the following two days, Alazne was both excited and nervous as she imagined herself meeting a new group of people and having her thoughts exposed, because she wanted to write for psychological reasons, to find relief for her depression and an outlet for bad memories that didn’t involve excessive abuse of her genitals.
When I wake up in the morning of the day the course will take place, I miss Alazne’s warm body in my arms. I catch a glimpse of her ass cheeks, covered by her cream-white cotton briefs, as she leaves the room towards the bathroom. Before I know it I’m rubbing my morning wood, but I take a deep breath and I spring from the bed. I don’t masturbate any longer, although since I told Alazne that I had died for a while, she has replaced half of the sex times with tender cuddling.
I’m putting on some pants when Alazne returns to the bedroom, and the first thing my gaze falls on is the mound of her pussy barely covered by her briefs. My crotch tingles.
“Hey… Can you stop putting on those pants and lie down with me in bed for a while?” Alazne asks me sweetly.
When I look up she’s smiling knowingly at me, because it couldn’t have been more obvious that I was ogling her pussy.
“Oh, absolutely. Let me brush my teeth in a hurry and I’ll be right back. You get ready.”
When I get to the bathroom I clean my teeth at record speed, then gargle a bit on mouthwash. Once I come back to the bedroom, Alazne is lying in bed, but she’s dressed in one of my shirts, which is too big for her small frame to the extent that it covers her holy parts. As I approach her, she widens her smile and opens her arms to welcome me.
“Come here, my love. I want my snuggly bear.”
I can already tell I won’t orgasm this morning, but I don’t particularly mind. I bend over to hug her as I plop onto the bed. Alazne wraps her arms around me and squeezes her cheek against mine.
“Mmmm… You’re always so warm. It’s like hugging a heated brick.”
I take a good whiff of her scent. It calms me down as always, and makes me want to remain in her embrace for hours.
“Odd comparison to start the morning, but alright,” I say softly.
She nestles her face on my chest as she entwines her legs with mine, but after a while she raises her head to look at me.
“So, my love, did you have a nice sleep?”
Her loving, sultry voice close to my ear gives me tingles.
“I sure did. Pure oblivion. And now I’m as rested as I can be.”
Alazne nuzzles against my neck, almost purring. I want to fuck her so bad, and yet I know she’s in a different mood. At least we both came last night.
“Sweetie…” I start. “I was thinking that while you attend that course today, I could spend the time writing in some nearby coffee shop.”
We can’t stand to be apart for too long, but being together all the time hinders our ability to focus and do our own things. I had to refuse attending the writing course, as I think this is something Alazne should do alone, but I’m fine with walking up to the library with her.
“That’s good,” Alazne says, “because having to deal with a bunch of new people is going to be nerve-wracking enough. I’d rather see you as soon as I get out.”
She curls her arms around my neck, and her frame trembles as she hugs me tighter. Her hot breath warms my face, so I lean in enough to kiss her. Our lips unite for a quiet moment before she pulls back.
“I’ll miss you so much,” she whispers.
“I’ll only be a street or at the most a couple of streets away. Nothing’s going to happen to you.”
“I know…”
“At the risk of ruining this mood… You told me that you wanted to write in a communal setting as a psychological release, as well as to learn about other people’s experiences and the stories they come up with. That means you have… thought about getting professional therapy, but you have discarded the idea?”
My question must have taken her by surprise. She loosens her embrace. I’m tempted to apologize, because reminding Alazne of her pains could disturb her, but she speaks calmly.
“I did consider it, at times. But I think the whole therapy thing is a scam, to be honest.”
“How can a person calling out your personal problems and having a heart-to-heart not be therapeutic?”
“What I mean is that one goes to therapy because she wants to fix herself, right? Is that not the point? But I know I can’t be fixed. So at the most, talking to a therapist would help as much as talking to someone else willing to listen closely to my pains.”
“That’s a bleak way to think about things, not that I disagree… I wouldn’t say that you need to be fixed as if you were unsightly broken, but still, a professional should be qualified to help you with your problems.”
“I had a fucked up childhood and a brain predisposed to misery from birth. That’s not solvable. I mean, look how I turned out.”
“You are one of the most caring and selfless people I know.”
Alazne chuckles almost bitterly.
“But you don’t know anyone besides me and Kateryna in this new life of yours, do you?”
“Yeah… I guess that’s true.”
“Maybe your ex-fiancée, but I hope you didn’t reconnect with her to any significant extent, for my sake. Selfless of me, huh?”
“So… when you want an outlet for your pains, are you going to rely on writing?”
“On playing the guitar too, and on you, of course. I can’t imagine me reaching out to you so you would listen, only for you to turn your back.”
“I will always listen, but I’m also going to call you out on your bullshit.”
Alazne bites my neck playfully. I complain, then squeeze her ass.
“And therapists wouldn’t treat me so honestly, because they need my money,” Alazne says. “So I’ll stick with you.”
I sigh.
“I’m okay with that. Listen, if you change your mind at any point, even if you just want to try therapy for a while, just tell me and I’ll bankroll it. After all, supporting you financially makes me feel manly and powerful. It’s a nice boost to my ego.”
“Is that the case? There is plenty of space in the wardrobe for new clothes. I guess I’ll get to drag you along before the end of the week.”

At twenty to six in the afternoon, Alazne and I are walking up the narrow, slightly claustrophobic San Nikolas street in old town, heading for the public library. All these houses must have been built back when people needed to walk everywhere, so both the sidewalks and the stone-paved road are too narrow for comfort. Still, I guess that the old, wooden, cramped storefronts, medieval-like front doors and cast iron window grilles are soothing in a way.
We are passing by a large open square unlike any other area of old town, on which nearby coffee shops have distributed their outside tables. One side of the square is walled with the fronts of three to four story high residential buildings constructed without allowing any space between them, and on the opposite side towers a grey fort-like structure. Its pockmarked bricks suggest that they were involved in some armed conflict.
I realize that I came to this square for a coffee shortly after I possessed Asier’s body, and before my new life with Alazne begun. I point at some empty tables.
“I guess I’ll spend the hour and a half of the course here, writing on the laptop.”
Alazne tugs on my arm, nervous.
“Sure, but… accompany me to the entrance.”
I suppose that Alazne’s behavior can qualify as separation anxiety, not that I mind. I love how she clings to me. I didn’t spend twenty years a ghost to complain now that my girlfriend is too insistent on spending as much time with me as possible.
When we turn the corner we begin descending the street in front of the ancient, imposing church, its bricks darkened by centuries of rain. The public library is just a couple of buildings away. It doesn’t scream library in any way; it’s like they repurposed one of the fanciest, old residential buildings because they didn’t know where to store all those books otherwise.
A group of people is chatting near the entrance, and also blocking the path to the extent that if a car comes up along the stone-paved road, those people will have to move. It’s an incongruous mix of retirees, two women in their forties, two guys maybe in their thirties, and one who looks like a teenage girl.
“Well, that’s surely them,” I say. “The class is about to start.”
Alazne looks at the group, then at me, then at them, then back at me. She’s clutching her laptop bag, which also contains a new notebook. She couldn’t make it more obvious that she’s nervous about approaching those people. Three of them, who aren’t taking part in the group’s conversation, are staring at us in silence, as they have realized we might join their class.
I admit it, I’m uncomfortable with Alazne getting involved with a group that includes men around her age. There’s no chance of other men trying to get in her pants if she only interacts with this man-corpse I’m possessing. I want to mark my territory, but instead of pissing all over Alazne I cup the back of her head and seek her tongue with mine. I break the kiss before any of the group members comment on it, which could mean they would be tempted to bother Alazne for it later.
When my girlfriend looks up at me, her pupils are dilated like those of a junkie. She didn’t expect to be kissed now, and she has blushed heavily.
“Alright, go meet your new friends and have a good time,” I whisper to her. “When we come back home, daddy will give you a treat.”
Alazne swallows as she lowers her gaze adorably. When she turns around, I’m tempted to pat her butt, but I only stare at her back as she walks up to the group while holding the laptop bag against her side. Her light brown hair is loose, slightly wavy near the tips, and she’s wearing a slim, knitted cardigan and blue denims. Two of the men are already eyeing her, hungrily I bet. Damn vultures…
Most of the group turns towards Alazne as she stops near them. A bald guy in his sixties, wearing glasses with thick frames, seems to welcome her, although I can’t hear what they are saying. My girlfriend’s head moves as she talks.
I don’t want to stick around in case I feel like rescuing her, so I walk up to the square. I sit heavily at one of the empty outside tables, then leave my laptop bag on the chair next to me. I’m already tired from the anticipation, but I’ll have to keep myself busy for an hour and a half.
When the waitress approaches my table, I force myself to look her in the eyes. It’s the same blond, chipper waitress in her late twenties that took my order the other time I came, and whose eyes I complimented for no particular reason. How awkward.
“You again!” she says cheerfully. “That wound in your head doesn’t look that bad anymore.”
“Eh, I had it checked. It’s nothing to worry about.”
“You were really pale the other day. You made me think someone had died.”
Why on earth did I come here again?
“It was just some mild existential confusion,” I answer dismissively.
“A philosopher. I like it! You read Camus?”
Jesus Christ, this woman will not stop talking to me of her own accord. I just want a coffee and to be left alone! Is that too much to ask for in this world?
“I’m afraid I only read Japanese mangas these days.”
The waitress’ gaze goes up to my hair, as if to certify I still have greys. I’m getting annoyed.
“I’ll have a coffee,” I tell her as I take out my laptop from its bag.
“A random one?”
I’m not in the mood for call backs, and I need some peace, but I still attempt to look friendly.
“No, I’ll be more specific this time, if only to make your job easier. A cappuccino, please.”
“Coming right up!”
The waitress sashays away. Nice ass. No, I have a girlfriend.
I take a deep breath. The laptop is already waiting for me to introduce my credentials. After I do so and my desktop is filling with icons, I insert the pen drive where I pasted some music. I open a new Word document. I connect my expensive earphones to the laptop and I insert the earbuds into their respective canals. I intend to listen to Modest Mouse’s ‘The Moon & Antarctica’ from the beginning. As soon as I hear those first echoed guitar notes, I exhale in relief. I’m as ready as I will be.
As I stare at the blinking cursor in the document, I can’t help but wonder why the waitress talking to me bothered me that much. It wasn’t just because she was delaying me from starting this project: she was demanding I related to her like she knew me to be from that one time we interacted. I can hardly identify anymore with my first days as Asier Izcoa. When I look back, I feel as if I was… unhinged. I only have my Alazne to thank for having assembled something resembling a normal human being out of my broken pieces.
I might as well write my experiences hoping that my girl will read them in the future, some day after I have admitted what I am, who I am. Assuming she would accept me. I doubt that will ever happen, but I shake my head and I start typing.
If you are reading these words, it means I’m dead. And if you aren’t reading them, I’m dead anyway! Because I’m a ghost.
I laugh to myself. What else could I have possibly written in the introduction?
I’m writing these memories for you, my love. I want you to remember me after I’ve left this world. I hope that my story gives you a sense of peace and understanding about who I was and why I did what I did. I also hope that we may meet once more, in a world much different from this one.
I feel the back of my eyes warming as if they intend to get teary. Why did I make it so dramatic? If Alazne ever reads these memories, I expect to be sitting next to her. I delete the last part.
You might be asking yourself how come I’m writing these words if I’m a ghost. Well, it just happens that like some other ghosts we know have poltergeist abilities to fling shit around like deranged monkeys, I have the uncanny ability to possess people. I hated it for the longest time, because whenever I managed to break through a living person’s natural defenses to command their flesh and bone robot, the owner’s soul fought me constantly. It felt as if an old, greasy man was licking me all over. It wasn’t erotic in the slightest, I assure you.
I bet Alazne would love to read that last bit.
I first realized I could become corporeal again while I was reading a dead professor’s diary. The dead bastard had discovered a ritual by which a ghost could invade a living body, although the process was extremely dangerous and only had a 10% chance of success. It involved a complicated magic circle with human blood as ink and quite a few other creepy ingredients.
I kind of like that for a fictional story. I cut those sentences, open a new document and paste them there. Maybe I’ll get busy with some creative writing of my own. Anyway, back to my memories.
You see, whoever is reading these memories, hopefully you yourself, my love: I’m not Asier. I’m wearing Asier, certainly. I command this decaying, hairy body as if I had grown a flesh and bone mecha and I was currently residing in its nape. How come I ended up disguised as a guy? Now that’s an interesting story. I was travelling to Donostia in a bus, feeling all despondent because I had seen you do some terrible stuff to yourself and I was trying to distract my troubled mind, when suddenly Asier veered his car into incoming traffic. As he admitted later on, he had tried to kill himself. I got off the bus and stood right next to him in the afterlife as his ghost wiggled out of his dying body. The paramedics were giving him CPR, which is mostly how I ended up with a battered ribcage. Anyway, I talked with Asier. He wanted an audience with the afterlife king, but I laughed at him. That pissed him off, I think. I don’t remember our conversation clearly, but when I suggested he could return to his body, he became paralyzed. It’s like he was imagining the mess that expected him back on the plane of the living: two ex-fiancées who hated him, one of them dead and haunting his house, and some blonde Eastern European guy pursuing him for whatever reason. So the motherfucker just bailed, you know? He turned tail straight into the beyond. I saw my chance. I remember thinking that if I had a body I could wipe your tears, Alazne, so I jumped into this man’s dead body. Fortunately it wasn’t dead enough that it didn’t work anymore, and turns out that when a ghost possesses a body still functional but devoid of its original soul, the possessing ghost gets trapped and can move it around and stuff. It’s kind of claustrophobic, to be honest.
Something lands softly on my table, startling me. It’s my cappuccino. The waitress also leaves the bill. Without taking off my earbuds, I lift my gaze towards the smiling waitress and nod. She wanders away. That’s one bubbly ass.
I focus on my writing again.
Anyway, who am I in all this? Well… My name is–
I can’t even bring myself to type it. Alazne shouldn’t learn it. But she isn’t reading my confession, not yet. I’ll have to be so careful with where I store this document.
My name is Irene. I’m a woman, yes. I was born with breasts and a pussy, and two X chromosomes. Well, I didn’t have breasts right when I was born, I don’t think. My point is that I have never been a man. I’m not even a man now, I’m just wearing one and taking advantage of his cock, which is quite magnificent, I gotta admit. And you have enjoyed it a lot as well, judging by how often you moan, and all the scratches on my back. I believe that the scientific term for what I am is a futa: a majestic woman who somehow possesses a monster cock. Except that you only know me to have the body of a man including the dick, but I’m talking about my mental image here.
I tap on my chin. I think I need to clarify how come I’m a ghost in the first place.
You see, I used to be alive. Even though I was a woman, I had… Well, my father used to call it improper tastes. Basically I couldn’t sit still and I wanted to make out with and eat out almost every attractive girl I saw. That made school complicated for me. And even more troublesome for many girls who didn’t know they could feel like I forced them to discover.
I delete the word ‘forced’. No, most of it was consensual. No, all of it was. They were just reluctant. It’s not my fault some girls are on the fence about being lesbians, or experimenting, or whatever they want to call it. I couldn’t care less about how they justified themselves as long as I got to taste their juices.
I continue writing.
There were no special girls. I was like a general, the Julius Caesar of eating pussy, wanting to explore and conquer every girl I set my gaze upon. There was no love involved, I don’t think. I have only known love ever since that day I was roaming the streets of Irún as a ghost, in the dreary, colorless afterlife, and I heard you playing guitar, Alazne. You made me a full person. You tamed a lioness.
I read it back. It’s quite creepy, actually. I need to explain how I died, but for twenty years I have been avoiding even thinking about that.
I graduated after I repeated a grade. I didn’t want to study anything. I didn’t feel like I belonged in society. There was nothing that I felt I had a talent for, except the aforementioned relentless deflowering of innocents. It’s not as if my parents supported me: they had divorced a few years before that point. My biological mother moved to South America. I got along well enough with my step-mother, but she had a sickness, degenerative I think, that was going to confine her to a wheelchair. She already had to use one at times during my last days with them. Anyway, my father hated the fact that I wouldn’t have children. I was the only creature they spawned and I turned out to prefer the taste of clits. Can you believe it? I wasn’t shy about it either, because a few times I brought over a couple of girlfriends, if I could call them that, to sleep with me.
My pulse is trembling, it’s getting harder to breathe. Why does it bother me that much? It happened twenty years ago. I have been a ghost almost as long as I lived in my original body.
My father was ready to give up on me, but my step-mother insisted that I had to get through college. She wanted to make sure that if there was the smallest chance I would grow up, as they called it, I wouldn’t be held back by my lack of a diploma. My father kept insisting that I would need to change my mind about producing his grandkids. Why the fuck would I want to have children? Parents and their stupid delusions, making kids who then grow up and imitate their parents. That’s the idea, I guess. I didn’t want any part of this fucking world. I couldn’t connect with anybody. I only wanted, needed, to wrestle with the tongue of some sexy girl, and hold her warm flesh against mine. That’s what life was about as far as I was concerned. The rest was window-dressing for liars.
I realize that I’m gritting my teeth, and a tear falls on the back of my hand. Startled and embarrassed, I hurry to wipe from my eyes any possible trace of tears, and then look around cautiously in case someone has noticed. It doesn’t seem to be the case, as the people occupying the other tables are focused on each other.
Yeah, I need a break. I lounge in the chair as I take sips of my cappuccino. I get to see a small band of horizon between the line of apartment buildings on my left and the old fort on my right. That’s the Txingudi bay, I’m quite sure. The Atlantic ocean, or maybe the sea. In any case it’s just a line of water instead of land making the flat horizon. How am I going to write my memories if I can’t express my thoughts properly, nor describe my surroundings?
I sigh, and return to work.
Yeah, so I went to college. Doesn’t matter for what, really. The most important part is that I tried to make friends, and yes, fuck classmates and random women I saw walking around, but it’s like I lost my magic. They looked at me as if I was some weirdo. A pushy, relentless, friendless weirdo.
I don’t want to put these memories down. Why am I writing these thoughts again? This doesn’t help anybody. Do I even want Alazne to know who I used to be before I chose to wear a dead man’s body?
The teachers either didn’t care about the volume of homework they sent, or other classmates could deal with it and I didn’t know how, because nobody would interact with me. In any case, I couldn’t, nor wanted to, study at home with a father who hated me and a step-mother who was crumbling away. I didn’t study in libraries, because I couldn’t sit still. I wondered if the best part of my life had already ended, and it hadn’t seemed that good to begin with. Nobody I had met or even had sex with wanted to keep in touch with me. Was I such a disgrace that everybody avoided me so much?
The breeze feels cool. I turn my head up to feel it blow through my hair, and I close my eyes.
I quit. I became a college dropout after three months. I thought that at least my step-mother would understand, but I remember looking down at her, because she was sitting on her wheelchair, as she glared at me furiously. She pounded a glass table with her fist. Not only it broke, cutting her hand, but she grabbed one of the pieces and fucking threatened me with it. I don’t remember what she yelled at me. Ah, yes: ungrateful. I was an ungrateful freak.
I shake my head and blink away the ghosts in my head. They had been gone for a long time.
Even though I just had a high school diploma, I got a job as a lowly clerk. I knew it would be boring as fuck, soul-killing. What I wouldn’t have expected is that I was unable to learn how to perform properly tasks that the seemingly dumber workers around me could do without issues. To print an invoice I had to work on, I ended up wasting three or four copies, because I kept failing to notice obvious mistakes. One of my bosses sat across from me. The fucker was some Italian shithead whose leg constantly shook as if he couldn’t wait to run to the bathroom and snort some coke. From nine to six in the afternoon, with a so-called break in between that I had to spend around my coworkers, I constantly heard my bosses going on about how they could make money with this or that plot, and how we would need to work harder and maybe work overtime if necessary and such. Someone had complained that I was fumbling basic tasks, so the boss ordered me to prepare a presentation to teach other coworkers about an auditing system the company sold. The details are unimportant: the fact is that nothing felt real to me, and I didn’t know what the hell I was saying. When the presentation ended, the boss ran up to me and berated me, called me useless, asked me specific mathematical questions unrelated to the presentation, and when I couldn’t give him the answer, he told me that I would know if I weren’t a pathetic dropout. He said that unless I intended to get fired by the end of the month, I would need to learn how to become minimally competent.
I sniff, and wipe my nose with my forearm. Why the hell am I crying? I am a tough guy who doesn’t cry. And also a fucking ghost. I died. Maybe this is what happens after death: you become some puddle of tears. Yeah, that’s it. After death you lose all defenses. You become a weeper, a wailer, some sobbing bitch.
That night I pissed my pants in my sleep. I cried as I threw my sheets into the clothes bin. I kept shaking, my teeth chattering. I remember thinking that my life would be like this until I died. Decades of such humiliations were the only thing I could look forward to. Nobody would care about me. Nobody would love me. I hurried to take a shower and dress myself. Only as I passed by a storefront I realized that I hadn’t cleaned my mouth properly after I brushed my teeth, and it looked as if I had just blown some guy. Then I stood at the bus stop. As I watched the vehicle that would drive me to work maneuvering to stop in front of me, my legs trembled, my heart jumped on my chest. I can’t do it, I thought. I won’t. So I didn’t. For a couple of hours I wandered around the outskirts of the city, a costal one but hundreds of kilometers away from here, as my phone kept receiving calls. The office, my parents. I didn’t answer any of them. I sat on a bench hugging my knees for another hour, and then I decided that I would get on a bus that would drive me up the local mountain. There were only a couple of other people on the bus that morning, mountaineers. I headed directly to a cliff, and I stood on the edge, nearly overwhelmed by vertigo, as I looked at the jagged rocks below. The tide wasn’t as high as I had expected, but it would be in a few hours.
I close my eyes tight as I feel the breeze caressing my face. In my earbuds, Isaac Brock sings bitterly about his broken heart. I remember standing at the edge of that cliff, and how I vomited what was left inside my stomach.
I want to end it, I thought. I can’t go on. I have to jump. Just fucking do it already. I was a freak who had been born with a broken brain. In any other age of history I would already have been rotting six feet under. I don’t want to live this nightmare for a second longer, so just step forward.
I take deep breaths as I feel my fingertips resting on the keys. I am not Irene anymore, am I? I will live as Asier for at least four to five decades more. I will become this man, and that original life of mine will become a tattered memory.
I remember looking around. Nothing but grass, trees, birds, a couple of horses in the distance. To be honest, if anyone had been walking around at that hour, I wouldn’t have jumped. If anybody had been nice to me in recent memory, I wouldn’t have jumped. But for a single second I wanted with all my might to die, so I stepped forward. I remember falling, cold wind getting in my ears and cooling my eyeballs, and me orienting myself in the air so I would hit the rocks headfirst. Then I must have fallen unconscious. Not died, just lost consciousness. I had fucked up landing on my head, or my skull was tougher than I would have expected, because I regained my senses only to be tortured with the most harrowing pain imaginable. It’s like I hadn’t known any pain until that point. I tried to move my arms, but I couldn’t feel them, and neither did I feel my legs. I think one of my eyes had burst, been crushed or whatever. I could barely move my head so I wouldn’t drown in the puddle formed on the rock my head rested on. I don’t know how much time I spent there. I thought I had gone to hell, because I felt as if I was being flayed alive, but somehow I couldn’t yell. And what would I yell for? My spine was broken, and I had purposely walked up to an area of the mountain nobody might visit in days. I remember being hungry, and thirsty. I regretted it, but not because I thought I was wrong to kill myself, but because I hadn’t imagined such pain was possible. In my head I asked, to whoever might be listening, for mercy, for them to come down and kill me. Eventually nature did it. The tide rose.
I cough. I’m about to take a drink of my coffee, but I realize I don’t want to put liquid in my mouth right now. As if my memory was recreating the vertigo I felt, I’m getting dizzier and dizzier. I want to return home. I want to kneel in front of the toilet in my stolen bathroom and vomit.
I remember how the saltwater burned behind my nose, and also how my lungs ballooned inside my chest as if they were about to burst. I didn’t want to live, I wanted it to be over. I don’t remember the exact moment when I entered the afterlife, but that morning I found out that ghosts exist, that I would need to keep tolerating this consciousness possibly for eternity, except in a far more dreary, colorless, odorless, tasteless world. I walked along the bottom of the sea for a good while, maybe an hour or two, until I emerged onto a beach. I would have thought that I would be tied down as if by magic to the place where I killed myself, and I guess it wouldn’t have been too bad to look at fishes for hundreds of years, but instead I walked out of my hometown. I never came back. I have no clue what happened to my parents, or if anybody found my body. And I couldn’t give less of a shit about any of it.
I feel claustrophobic, and cold sweat is rolling down my forehead. I take out the earbuds and listen to the animated conversations around me. Three tables to my left, a group of forty something men talk to each other as if they’ve been hanging out since they were children. A couple of digital cameras are firing off next to the fort, and their owners are talking in English. I have only spent forty five minutes. I have to wait for at least another forty five until my beloved, the light of my life, returns to my side. I can’t sit still anymore, I’ll take a walk. I look around until I locate the blonde waitress, and I signal for her to come over.

My Own Desert Places, Pt. 21 (GPT-3 fueled short)

I have taken the habit of enjoying my breakfast on the balcony of the second floor, as long as it doesn’t rain. I sit wearily on an iron chair at the table, facing the neighboring countryside. This chair is so sturdy that I never have to worry about the wind pushing it around. I enjoy the slight morning breeze as I drink my coffee, and I gaze upon the view. Green rolling hills as far as the eye can see, a pleasant view marred only by a couple of electric towers and isolated farmhouses among fenced grazing fields and small groves. In the horizon rise the two peaks of a mountain, name unknown.
I had intended to leave Alazne sleeping, but the noise I made as I was preparing my breakfast must have woken her up, because I hear her footsteps approaching me from the hallway behind me. She’s coming into the balcony as she holds a fresh cup of coffee from the coffee maker I bought recently. She smiles at me warmly, then sits down on the iron chair next to me. She’s wearing baby blue pyjama bottoms adorned with cat silhouettes, and a white shirt showing the protagonist from ‘Goodnight Punpun’ in his black, elongated head, multi-eyed version. Her light brown hair is tied back in a ponytail except for a couple of rebellious locks.
“How are you today?” I ask, trying not to stare at her breasts.
“Fine. You?”
As I had feared, I am apprehensive. Yesterday I couldn’t take anymore how much Alazne suffered because I needed to lie about my nature as a ghost, so I pacified her with the lie I also told Asier’s ex-fiancée Ainhoa: that the car accident Asier had suffered, which had granted him his wish to die, had erased most of the memories of my past before the crash. If I had pondered about the pros and cons of deceiving Alazne further, I would have figured out some other solution, but I can’t turn back time now.
And last night I suffered the first consequence: we didn’t have sex. For the first day since that fabled night in which I conquered Alazne’s holy pussy with both my penis and my mouth, we hadn’t gone a day without repeating the same ritual with some variation. However, last night, around an hour after we ate dinner, Alazne announced that she wanted us to watch a movie in bed. It was Makoto Shinkai’s ‘Your Name’. Alazne had already seen it at her previous home a few years ago, before the day I heard her playing guitar for the first time. I had only caught bits and pieces of the movie over the years, when I wandered into people’s houses, and I didn’t know what it was called. So I sat with my back against the headboard, Alazne leaned back against me, and for the time the movie lasted I hugged her chest under the sheets while I watched the laptop screen, which she appropriately propped up on her lap.
I guess Alazne had forgotten most of the events of the movie, or maybe the narrative is just that powerful, because she cried profusely at a couple of moments, and right by the end I’m ashamed to admit that I shed some manly tears, although hopefully my girlfriend didn’t notice. When the movie finished, Alazne turned around, hugged me tight and we made out heavily for a good while, so the romantic movie fulfilled its purpose. However, when I tried to unfasten her bra she told me that she didn’t want to fuck, just for me to hold her tight and sleep facing her. I panicked internally, and feared something was seriously wrong, not to mention that she must have known how hard I was by how my penis was digging into her abdomen, but Alazne just curled up against me, with her hands between our chests, and fell asleep with a placid smile on her lips.
I hadn’t noticed that I lost myself worrying about last night’s events, and when I switch back to reality, I find myself looking down at the foam in my coffee. As I take a drink I realize that Alazne is gazing at the wound on my forehead, now mostly a scar, so obviously that it seems rude even to me.
Nervous, I take a sip of coffee, and then I slide the tip of my index finger along the wound.
“I hope that over time it won’t look discolored, but I guess nothing will prevent me from sporting a conspicuous scar. I wish it could have crossed my eyebrow or something badass like that. So close to my hairline it just looks wrong.”
“Well, I love you anyway,” she says with a sweet smile.
“Everyone loves a war hero,” I say. “That’s what we could tell people anyway. Not that I went and crashed my car because…” Because Asier veered deliberately into incoming traffic. I haven’t told this to Alazne, have I? “… Because I’m a moron who can’t drive properly. It was a nasty crash, bad enough that I died for a moment.”
“Asier, did the doctors check you for brain damage? They must have, right?” Alazne asks with an unconcerned tone for what she’s asking.
“It’s not my mind that’s damaged, it’s my heart. I must have been a lonely, sad man to drive so recklessly. But yes, the doctors did check, and apparently the only lasting damage to my brain is having lost most of my memories. Which I guess is a very serious issue, but… I embrace it, given that the person this body belonged to before the accident was a rotten bastard.”
A sudden movement in the countryside distracts me enough to divert my attention to it. A man, I guess a farmer, is walking through one of the fenced grazing fields maybe two hundred meters away. There’s nobody else out, even though it’s a pleasant morning at around nine and a half. I follow the guy with my gaze for a few seconds until he disappears in the shade of some trees.
When I focus on Alazne again, she’s not trying to disguise the pity she feels for me. I shift my weight in my chair.
“Alazne, please don’t look at me like that. I’m telling you, I’m fine. I have no clue how the… previous owner of this body felt before the accident, but I’m doing okay, apart from some occasional confusion.”
Alazne reaches with her hand to touch my shoulder, then her fingertips slide down to the inside of my elbow, where she lets her hand linger.
“I’m just worried about you, and want what’s best for you. I can’t imagine spending my life with anybody else. You know that.”
I swallow a sudden flash of warmth in my throat.
“I do. I feel the same way.”
“And… I think you should go back to get checked. You have been irresponsible with your recovery. In the beginning I thought it was a nasty enough crash in which you hit your head, and that was that, but you literally died for a few seconds. You could have ended up… the only way I can think of calling it is a vegetable. Forever lying in bed with barely any brain function. And having lost your memories is not something you should just brush off. I need you to be well.”
I grab her hand and squeeze it. She squeezes back. Her hands are warm, an even more pleasant sensation than usual in such a nice, quiet morning. I stare at the pale, freckled face and those hazel eyes of my beloved for a few seconds, as the birds chirp to each other.
“I’m fine, sweetie. But you are right, I’ll go to the hospital in Donostia and ask them to do some tests. I suppose they’ll agree that they are necessary. Whatever they want. I’ll call later.”
Alazne nods, then narrows her eyes with gratitude.
“Thank you. Tell me if you feel weird at any point, alright? I’m here for you.”
“I will also write in my will that if I die for whatever reason you’ll get to have this house and the money I hoard. And the stock portfolio, I guess. So you’ll be fine either way.”
If I had thought before the words already left my mouth about what reaction Alazne would have, I suppose I would have expected her to chuckle, and maybe hit my arm playfully, but she snaps her head back and her eyes get teary. She frowns.
“Don’t joke around like that,” she says. “I want you here, present, with me. It’s not about your things.”
I stare open-mouthed, and I can’t help but avert my eyes.
“I know, I was–“
“No, do not finish that sentence,” Alazne interrupts with a sharper tone in her voice. “If you die, everything will be awful, and I don’t want to think about it happening. You are not to die, ever.”
I wrap my arms around her and hold her close. She’s trembling.
“You kind of gave me an impossible task,” I say in a low voice. “I will always try not to die. For you, and for me. Because your happiness is my happiness, and your unhappiness would be unbearable. That’s the whole point of how I ended up being with you.”
When I pull away, she looks down as if embarrassed of herself.
“Don’t worry,” I say. “Besides, I’m your rock, remember? I’m the big, tough guy who can crush people’s heads like balloons. That’s the kind of man you need.”
I give a meek smile, and she looks up at me.
“No, you are not,” Alazne states.
A shiver runs through my spine. I feel a rush of panic. I fucked up, didn’t I? I’m quite sure that as I was preparing myself to admit this supposed memory loss, I had realized that Alazne needed, her tastes in men demanded, an invulnerable ravaging monster who would be able to keep her safe, and save her from having to doubt or make decisions if necessary. That had been the role I had played from the moment I met her. Back when I was a ghost I had the privileged opportunity of learning every little detail of Alazne’s masturbatory fantasies, and they rarely diverged from a tall, strong father figure who would treat the female actress like his little princess. A princess who needed to be held down and spanked from time to time. Even if she would deny those urges to her dying day, there’s no doubt that’s what she yearns for.
“You are not my rock,” she says. “Rock is a silly, weak thing to be. The world is made of rocks, but you are a mountain. Mountains do not move. Mountains last forever. You are my mountain, and I love you.”
This time I’m the one who blushes. I’d say that the world is also made of mountains, but I don’t intend to contradict my beloved.
“That’s… Thank you,” I say with a thin voice.
Alazne keeps staring at me while smiling. I wish I knew what she’s thinking. I had a closer relationship with her back when she couldn’t see me nor feel my presence, because I didn’t need to deal with the layer of acting, inevitable when you are interacting with another human being, even the person one loves the most. I fell in love with her when she believed nobody would care if she died.
Alazne lowers her head for a moment, and her smile falters.
“I’m not… sure if I acknowledged you as a human being to the extent that I know myself to be.”
“W-what do you mean?” I ask, taken aback.
Alazne sighs. She forces herself to hold my gaze.
“I needed someone to drag me out of my hole. I think I told you that. I dreamt of someone doing so, a man strong enough that he could handle how much of a disaster I am. You were that person, straight out of my daydreams. I suppose that I let myself go along with a delusion.”
“I will be that man for you anytime, sweetie.”
“No, you are not a figment of my imagination. You are a flesh-and-blood man who can get hurt and who has his own emotions which might not align with what would be convenient for that delusion. Do you get what I mean?”
I nod slowly.
“I understand. You are saying that now that you have found out a significant weakness of mine, that of having lost almost all of my life previous to my car accident, I’m not the strong man you needed.”
I sounded more bitter than I intended. I can’t blame Alazne for feeling that way. I suppose I’ll have to deal with her being less attracted to this body sexually because I’m partially broken, and Alazne may believe that I need to be taken care of. I suddenly feel miserable.
Alazne realizes that I’m hurt, and she scoots her chair closer to me so she can put her hand on my cheek.
“I know that as a man you need to feel strong to protect me. And you are, that’s not what I meant.”
I give her a knowing look.
“But that’s what you need. And I mean really need. Someone so strong and invulnerable that would make all the troubles in your life seem insignificant. Is that not the case?”
“Well… Fantasies are one thing, Asier.”
I’m getting annoyed. Maybe I’m learning a thing or two about masculine pride.
“I’m going to be real with you, Alazne, because I don’t believe we should talk around the issue. It’s just you and I, after all. Well… And Kateryna, of course, if she’s listening. My point is that I have been inside you. Any time I close my eyes I can recreate that moment in your previous home when you were kneeling on the mattress and sucking my cock, which you are amazing at, by the way, and when I called you a good girl you almost came.”
Alazne takes her hand away from my cheek. She rests both hands on her knees while her eyes dart around as if thinking about my words. I wouldn’t know how to answer to what I said, to be fair.
“You want a man who would be strict with you, take you over his knee when you act out,” I say. “Your insides have never squeezed me as tight as when I was overpowering you and pretending to be your daddy.”
She remains quiet for a while, as if deep in thought. I take a sip of my coffee. Alazne glances over at me, her eyes narrow and her cheeks red.
“Do you find me disgusting, then?” she asks with a vulnerable voice, as if fearing I would reject her.
“Not at all, Alazne. It makes me horny as hell.”
She sighs, then fidgets with the hem of her shirt.
“A-at the moment I was so… turned on that I didn’t think about what I was saying. If I had, I would have been terrified of you leaving me immediately. I have felt bad about having these needs, you know…”
I take her hand into mine, then lean in to press my lips against hers.
“Alazne, you’re perfect to me. And every fetish, even far more deranged than any of yours, is fine between two consenting adults, as far as I’m concerned. Last night I was more than ready to provide for my precious girl what she needs, but she didn’t want to. It’s fine not to want it, of course, but you have to understand: that very same afternoon I opened up about a big weakness of mine, and a few hours later you didn’t want to have sex with me. That made me seriously worried about how our relationship had changed.”
She moves her lips down to my palm, and gently puts a kiss on it.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t think of it that way. It’s just that… It’s really hard for me to put in words. But last night was a lot for me.”
“What do you mean?”
She takes a deep breath, then gets closer to me.
“I thought I was already as close as I could be with you, but after we watched the movie and we made out, I just needed you to hold me in your arms so I could fall asleep. I had never felt as connected with another human being. And I have slept without a worry in the world.”
“That’s… really sweet of you to say. I feel like a bastard now for complaining that I wanted to have sex and you didn’t.”
She chuckles, then brings her lips to my ear.
“If you thought that our sex life would end, you were mistaken,” Alazne whispers. “Now that we can talk openly about all the dirty stuff we yearn for… We will take good care of each other.”
She breaks off the whisper and brings her lips to mine, kissing me sweetly.
I can’t tell how much time we spend kissing as the breeze brushes our hair and chills our skin. The sound of an engine turning on distracts me from Alazne’s tongue. We both look towards the asphalt below and get to see veiled human faces behind the windows of a minivan as it drives out of the gated community. Once it leaves, it turns in the direction of the city center, and eventually the unpleasant sound of the engine disappears under the singing of birds and the rustling of leaves.
“So we do have neighbors after all,” Alazne says, then takes a drink of her coffee. “Oops, it’s gone cold.”
“Yeah, I don’t know what’s going on with this community of ours… But I’m glad you’re here with me.”
Alazne grins.
“Me too. It’s nice to share a quiet morning with someone after our previous long, exhausting day of labor.”
We both laugh. When we stop, Alazne stares at me fondly, as if she figures she can say something important to me.
“Listen, I want to do something out there, like with a group.”
“Oh? Like what? You mean like a part-time job?”
Alazne shivers.
“Goodness, no… Unless you ask me to contribute in that way, I don’t want to, to be honest. I meant like a course. Engaging with a group for a communal objective, you know? Learning new stuff, maybe…”
“What kind of group? What are you interested in learning?”
“I don’t know. Maybe something to do with… with…”
She struggles to come up with a suggestion.
“Guitar classes, for example?” I offer. “That would help you improve for sure. Not that you need them, mind you.” I stroke my chin as I look at the sky. “But that’s not exactly communal…”
“No, I was thinking something like… You know, I told you to write your experiences. Something along those lines. A writing course in the city.”
Alazne, someone who when I met her could barely leave the house because her abysmal self-esteem and her anxiety threatened to suffocate her, now wants to meet new people and do activities with them. I feel proud. I want to squeeze her tight and let out embarrassing noises.
“That sounds wonderful,” I say while grinning. “What prompted this need, though?”
“Back when I was holed up at my depressing apartment, I couldn’t afford to turn my attention away from how I would earn enough money to pay my rent and utilities. Well, at the most I would lose myself in shows and manga so I could tolerate the overwhelming misery. I couldn’t justify to myself spending my energy and resources in other… frivolous pursuits.” She perks up. “But now I’m standing on such solid ground that I feel like I could do anything! Except that… there’s the issue of how to pay for it.”
I raise an eyebrow at her.
“Are you seriously going to pretend that money is an issue? Look around. We are the one percent.”
“Unless you have several millions, or dozens or hundreds of millions in the bank, I wouldn’t go that far… Hey, if you want me to do something for the money, that’s alright with me.”
I narrow my eyes at her and lower my head slightly.
“Then later I’ll have you naked and kneeling on the mattress. You’ll look up at me and plead. Then maybe I may give you some money, if you have earned it.”
Alazne turns red and starts laughing. Her laugh is so delicate.
“Alright, I won’t tease you anymore.”
“Good,” I say while smiling. “I’ll give you the money because you are my girl and I love you, of course. But it’s not good for your dignity to keep asking me for money whenever you want to do something by yourself. Give me your account details when you want, and I’ll put an automatic monthly transfer. A few hundreds is probably enough.”
Alazne turns her head away from me instinctively, as if embarrassed, and wrings her hands over her lap. I wouldn’t be comfortable if I had to ask for money, even to the love of my life, so I avert my eyes to give her space. As I take the last gulp of my cold coffee, I realize that a group of bronze-colored cows is grazing in a nearby field. A calf is lolling on the grass while a nearby adult cow gazes up at us as if looking out for danger. The poor cow doesn’t know who she should fear.
Alazne sniffles, which startles me. Her parted lips are quivering, and tears keep streaming down her cheeks. She’s silent otherwise. I pull her into me so she can bury her face in my neck, and I caress the back of her hair.
“Is… this a good cry or a bad one?” I ask cautiously.
Alazne doesn’t say anything. Seconds later she pulls away, then she straightens her back and smiles softly. The morning sun makes her irises look as if they float right under the surface of a glass ball.

My Own Desert Places, Pt. 20 (GPT-3 fueled short)

My girlfriend Alazne, gifted with an obsessive personality, is enraptured by us having a ghost roommate. She keeps talking to Kateryna, describing her own activities and intentions in case the ghost feels lonely. I tended to do that as well in the beginning, but I think Kateryna and I, as we grew to know each other better, came to an understanding that most of the actions around the house were so mundane an uninteresting that describing them would annoy anyone, even a ghost sick of being trapped in the afterlife. Also, the more time I spend inhabiting this stolen body, the less interested I become in talking to ghosts. I see Kateryna as a friend and I treat her as if she just happened to be invisible, but I avoid addressing her current predicament, because her being a ghost reminds me that I will inevitably die some day. I didn’t appreciate enough being alive during my first time through.
Alazne also insists on testing Kateryna’s powers. A few times I witnessed my girlfriend arranging different kinds of objects, for example cutlery, her phone, random mangas she brought over, a lamp, an empty cardboard box, the stuffed seal she won at Monte Igueldo, etc. so Kateryna could lift them, hold them in the air, pivot them, or even throw them around. Alazne was mainly curious, I think, but Kateryna hadn’t exercised her poltergeist powers as much as now that my girlfriend lives here. It’s as if Alazne wants to train our ghost into becoming a more proficient poltergeister. Because Kateryna remains silent when she isn’t using the board, and even when she communicates with us through the planchette she can’t transmit her emotions properly, I couldn’t tell if Kateryna appreciated all this attention or not. It could be that she considered Alazne’s insistence as pestering.
When Alazne wasn’t talking to Kateryna, browsing the internet, watching anime, reading manga or playing the guitar in a bare room of the second floor, she had begun to enjoy cooking. We always prepared our meals together, given that neither of us had to work and we rarely left the house alone. Today we prepared a fairly decent meal of pesto tortellini with chicken, and as we are eating it at the living room dining table, Alazne, seated right next to the ouija board, keeps talking to Kateryna, who may feel that us eating in front of her is just a reminder that she will never get to eat anything ever again.
“How old are you, Kateryna, by the way? I can’t believe I hadn’t brought it up!” Alazne says as she chews.
The planchette moves as swiftly as usual, but from where I’m sitting I can only see the board sideways, so I don’t catch the answer.
“What did she say?” I ask.
“Forever twenty five,” Alazne says, then turns her head to the empty space next to her, intending to look at our ghost pal in the eyes. “For some reason I pictured you as an older, courtly lady from like the Russian aristocracy.”
The planchette moves around, and Alazne chuckles.
“Kat said that I should feel honored. Yeah, I do. It’s great being able to talk to a ghost and know that there’s something waiting for us after we die, even if it is colorless and dreary. So you aren’t from the Russian nobility, huh?”
The planchette slides around almost angrily.
“… Kat said ‘all massacred by communist weasels’.”
I shake my head, then pick up more tortellini with my fork.
“Yeah, I think they were governed by communists for a long time. And then they had the whole Chernobyl thing. Quite a few refugees came here.”
Alazne nods, and eats another forkful of pasta.
“I must have pictured you all wrong, Kateryna. How did you look back when you were alive?”
The planchette sputters across the board, spelling out words.
“… Yeah, I’m sorry, Kat,” Alazne says in a low voice.
“What did she say?” I ask.
“That her body is now a skeleton in a dress.”
“To be fair, I doubt the decomposition has advanced that much since you died. If I were to dig up your casket, Kat, you would probably still be recognizable.”
Alazne winces as she chews and turns her head to stare at the board, because Kateryna hasn’t wasted time to reply.
“What’s that?” I ask.
“Kat said ‘when I was alive I was hottest in the world Asier said so’.”
I gag on the bolus of tortellini, and I have to cough a few times as well as drink from my glass of water. I blink a couple of tears away.
“Yeah, I’m sure she was a real beauty,” I say with a grating voice, “being Ukrainian and all. But I wouldn’t know for sure, because nobody can see her. Isn’t that the case, Kateryna?”
“Are you okay, my love?” Alazne asks me with worry. “Do you need me to hit you on the back?”
I feel a twinge of pain in my chest.
“I need you to hit me all over, sweetie. Just punish me and make a real mess of this body.”
Alazne gets up, walks up to me and hugs me tightly while I rest my chin on her shoulder. She turns her head and kisses my cheek.
“We can always go into the bedroom and try new stuff like that. Not before we finish eating and digest the food enough, though.”

I wanted Alazne to become acquainted with Hondarribia, even though I wasn’t from here nor did I choose to settle in this city: it just happened that the man whose body I stole lived in its outskirts. Also, I loved taking walks with Alazne as she held on to my hand or to my arm and she kept talking without a care in the world. Leaving our home meant distancing ourselves temporarily from the only other person in this world who knows I’m actually a woman ghost wearing a very elaborate disguise. I feel that for Kateryna, isolated in the afterline and unwilling to seek out other ghosts because she’s afraid of them, my horrifying secrets have become an inside joke, instead of damning information that would destroy my relationship with Alazne.
As my girlfriend and I walked through the residential neighborhoods and approached the center of the city, I kept feeling like I needed to look over my shoulder. Why, though? That blond, Eastern European dude’s angry face flashed in my mind, and for the next couple of minutes I pretended that I wasn’t annoyed. Alazne and I could enjoy such a relaxed time in this city, but now I have to wonder where that crazy bastard might be. He promised that he was going to harass me again, too. Quite a few times as I was working out and my muscles were burning up, I imagined myself grabbing that Oleksiy’s head with my hands and bursting it like a balloon.
My girl and I sat on the dwarf wall of the Butrón promenade so we could eat lemon ice cream cones while looking at the calm waters of the Bidasoa river. A cool breeze blows against us, bringing sea smells. Apart from the few fishing boats that bob in the water, on the opposite bank of the river we can see France, particularly the city of Hendaya, although from here the view only offers a few white houses with orange roofs on the left, and on the right a line of palm trees behind which stands tall a branchless forest of white masts from all the boats that rest on that port. A few seagulls keep squawking like the annoying maniacs that they are, above the background noise from not only the nearby traffic but also the dozens of people, couples of all ages with or without kids, who are also enjoying this promenade.
“I will think of something bigger to do instead of just taking walks, don’t worry,” I say unprompted.
“Well, we’re already eating ice cream,” Alazne says with a smile, then licks some liquified ice cream that had trickled onto her hand. “I’m not worried at all. I’m a very domestic person.”
“Still, I want us to do something fun and meaningful. There are plenty of organized activities out there that require money and that people wouldn’t do alone. I’d say we are overdue for a visit to the zoo, for example.”
“Are there even zoos in this province?”
“There might not be. A serious oversight on the part of whoever is responsible. There’s the natural park at Cabárceno, though. It’s not that far.”
“That’s true, but it’s not a zoo, is it? The animals won’t be as close as you would want them to.”
“Well, the point is to be in nature and do stuff outdoors. That’s still an option.”
Alazne strokes the back of my neck with her free hand, then leans towards me so she can touch my cheek with hers. I turn my head and kiss her lemon-flavored, cold lips.
“What I meant, my love, is that you don’t need to rack your brain,” Alazne says with a sweet voice. “I told you a few times that just being with you is enough. You must not truly understand how much of a recluse I used to be. I spent years in prison, a sentence for which my broken brain was both judge and jailer.”
“Very poetic…” I say, although my heart hurts when I think of how she had felt like.
“During the periods in which I had a job, I went to work and returned home. I only left it otherwise to buy groceries, and I was a disaster at planning how to fill my fridge properly. When I was unemployed, I… spent weeks without leaving my apartment. I think once I didn’t shower for two weeks or more, let alone change my underwear.”
“I’ve… always loved your smell, though. I’d love it if it were stronger.”
Alazne smiles sadly.
“No… You wouldn’t.” She sighs. “This is how I’ve lived for a decade or so. It’s only since you met me that I’ve felt… well-adjusted.”
“Well, I’m glad you’re feeling well.”
“I feel great. But that’s the point. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have come out of my hole. So, whatever you want to do is fine by me. If you come up with a fancy plan, then I’d love to experience it with you, but don’t get stressed as if you had to impress me constantly.”
I’m touched, and I have trouble holding my girlfriend’s gaze for a moment. There’s also guilt mixed in.
“You sure are a romantic today.”
Alazne smirks.
“I don’t know of what you speak. Now, was there anything else?”
“Not really. We can go back to doing what we have been doing.”
“Which was?”
We kiss until we both feel cold, sticky ice cream trickling onto our fingers.

A bit later we walk deeper into the city, and take a leisure stroll along the popular San Pedro street. Most of the outside tables of the restaurants are occupied by chatty families. Groups of all kinds of people are hanging out around the benches. Instead of walking in the shade of the lines of old trees, we take advantage of the sunlight remaining in this increasingly cloudy afternoon. I keep glancing at the small houses facing this pedestrian street, which look as if they were built a hundred years ago and only painted over every couple of decades, and I wonder what kind of people live there.
As we pass by the outside tables of some bars, the tumult from all the talking drowns out Alazne as she went on about an episode we had watched last night. She shuts up. After we leave behind the throng of people, however, she changes the topic.
“Asier, has Kateryna spoken to you about this Irene person?”
The warmth leaves my body as if a breach had opened in a spaceship, and Alazne had spoken to me while looking at my face, so she already knows I’m unsettled. I mumble something before my conscious mind can formulate a proper lie.
Alazne is frowning slightly, worried.
“She seems like an important person to Kat, but she’s frustratingly tight-lipped about this Irene. I can’t get Kat to say whether Irene is alive or not. It seems to me that she hadn’t intended to mention her at all.”
I can’t hold my girlfriend’s gaze any longer. If only I had witnessed every interaction that Alazne had with our ghost, I would have been able, maybe, to weave a lie around the facts my girlfriend learned, likely because Kateryna fucked up and said something she shouldn’t. But it could be the case that Alazne knows some detail I haven’t predicted, or maybe Kat made something up that I would end up contradicting. I’m paralyzed.
“You… know this Irene as well, Asier,” Alazne says with a disheartened tone. “And yet you clearly don’t want to tell me about her, or other stuff you have withheld. I don’t understand why.”
I simply can’t tell her the truth, and I’m coming up blank on a good lie. I feel like a simple animal caught in the headlights of the truck that’s about to wipe it out.
“I… Alazne, there are some things I can’t…” I say with a thin voice.
Alazne squeezes my hand. She tries to get me to look at her, but I don’t.
“You can’t say? Ever since I moved into your beautiful house you have been high-strung, particularly when I’m interacting with Kateryna. You are a very honest person, Asier, so I do believe that there is some information, maybe a memory of yours, or a bunch of them, that you truly believe you can’t share with me. I have no idea why.”
She stops talking as if she intended for me to confirm her conclusion. She’s right about how on edge I’ve been recently. Back when I visited Alazne’s apartment, I felt in control. Now I keep running around plugging holes. The lies I’ve created are endless, and I’m sure some contradict each other, but I still can’t see any way out of this. Not when I want to keep Alazne in my life.
We remain silent as we distance ourselves from the overlapped conversations, and the clatter of forks and spoons and knives, from the dozens occupying the restaurants of this street. Whatever relief I would have felt from heading towards calmer areas of the city gets suffocated by this panic that’s gripping my heart.
I swallow and try to come up with something.
“I… love you, Alazne. This might feel like a barrier in our relationship, but–“
She doesn’t let me finish.
“I love you too, Asier,” she says with a teary voice. I don’t want to check if her eyes are welling up with tears. “But I fear that there’s some hole in this new life we are living that I will end up falling into, and that will be that. You will leave me, and I will have to return to a hopeless existence I already wanted nothing to do with.”
My throat closes. I stop, I put my arm around Alazne’s waist and I guide her to a nearby small plaza lodged between two three-story buildings. We end up standing next to a series of parked bycicles, in the shade of a large treetop. When I look at my girlfriend’s face, I regret it, because her eyes are already red and she’s wiping a tear.
I cup the back of her head and kiss her light brown hair, then I speak with a voice as calming as I can.
“I admit it, Alazne, I’m hiding things about my past that Kateryna is aware of, and because she likes me, she simply doesn’t want to reveal them. But I’m not… ready to tell those things to someone who is alive, even to the love of my life.”
“I feel such dread when I can tell you are hiding something…” she mutters pitifully.
“No! I don’t want to break your heart. I just… I’m scared, and there’s so much at stake here.”
“I don’t understand. Truly, I don’t. What could possibly be so bad that I wouldn’t accept it?” She holds my gaze with her watery eyes, as if to glean the truth from my expression. “Have you murdered someone?”
“What? No! That’s the first thing that comes to mind? Nothing like that.”
“Are you a… terrorist?”
“Jesus Christ, Alazne.”
“Are you actually a cactus? An older woman? A goat? Tell me, please.”
She was so close with one of those wild possibilities she was throwing, which she had intended to be so ridiculous that they would be inconceivable, that I want to sit on the floor and hug my knees.
“I’m… probably none of those things.”
“Then, what could it possibly be? Asier, even if you were cheating on me with this Irene, or any other woman, I would still want to be with you,” she says as if she considers it a weakness, but also undeniably true. “Do you understand that? Even if you betrayed me to my face, and you brought home another girlfriend and had her living there, my life with you would still be miles ahead of the nightmare out of which you dragged me.”
My nostrils get dilated, and I find myself clenching my teeth. I take Alazne’s hand and move her to a nearby bench. After I sit, I gesture for her to sit on top of me. She climbs onto my lap and wraps her arms around my shoulders. As she presses her head against mine, moistening my skin with her teary eyes, I can feel her relaxing a bit. She’s so warm, and I need this contact right now.
“Alazne…” I say in a low voice, but sternly. “You need to respect yourself more. Don’t ever accept being cheated on, even if you believe that the alternative is preferable. You can’t get by in this world when you have sacrificed your dignity.”
“Please,” she begs. “Just tell me it isn’t what I think it is.”
“Were you thinking that I was cheating on you and hiding it, then?”
I hold her head gently between my palms, so I can stare straight into her glossy eyes. If she tries to find any trace of dishonesty there, there won’t be.
“I am not, in any way or form, cheating on you.”
I stop for a moment, and I imagine the previous, and original, owner of my current body saying those words to Ainhoa and Kateryna, and sounding exactly as I have. But I continue.
“I want to be with you forever. That’s the whole truth as far as this particular issue is concerned.”
“… I’m sorry for getting angry and accusing you of something so horrible,” she says softly.
“You have a right to be upset. This whole situation is pretty fucked up, and it’s okay to react to it emotionally sometimes. Also, being accused of cheating is horrible, because cheaters are the worst scum of this planet. To go behind the back of the person who loves you so you can fuck someone else, only to return to your partner and kiss her and tell her you love her as if you weren’t plunging a knife into their heart every single day of your life… Those people need to be lined up and shot. They don’t need to exist.”
I see red. My heart is pounding on my chest. I feel Alazne’s loving touch as she puts her hand on my cheek, and it’s as if I had forgotten she was sitting on top of me. My breath begins to slow down.
“I’m sorry,” I say, embarrassed. “It seems I hold very strong feelings on the subject.”
“It’s okay. But I’m glad to know that you would never do such a thing.”
Alazne hugs me tightly. By how she’s letting her body rest against mine, she likely wishes we could remain like that for a long time, but we’ll have to walk all the way back home. Maybe I’ll call a taxi. I’m not in the mood for a stroll anymore.
My brain keeps replaying that moment when I got off that bus to Donostia and walked up to the totalled Škoda that the original owner of my current body had used to kill himself, inconveniencing random people in the process. Couldn’t he have jumped off a bridge, or gotten ahold of a gun and shot himself or something? I should have known that this Asier bastard wasn’t any good. Maybe I should have haunted some hospital until I found my chance to possess any other body.
I get a clear image of an unclear subject: the blurry shadow of Asier’s ghost, back when he stood next to me and asked whether I was an angel. His own guardian angel, he might have asked, but I have forgotten. I pretty much am, aren’t I? I have been in charge of putting your life together after you fucked everything up.
I can’t take hurting Alazne with my lies. I need to move forward towards being as clear with my beloved as any other person can be. Maybe she will never get to learn that I’m actually a woman, but surely I can push her closer to that secret.
I pull away from our warm embrace. After I kiss Alazne on the lips, which she welcomes, I take out my wallet from my shirt pocket and I open it. When I find myself holding the note that doctor wrote about the aftermath of Asier’s accident on my body, I hesitate. I suspect that revealing the true fact that I don’t hold memories Asier had prior to the accident is going to contradict other stuff I’ve said, but it needs to be done anyway. I pull out the printout.
“Please, sweetie, read this,” I say with the thinnest voice. “Maybe you will understand part of why I kept quiet.”
She reads it twice, and then looks at me with puppy dog eyes as she parts her lips.
“M-memory loss caused either by head trauma or not enough oxygen getting to the brain when your heart stopped for too long?”
I take a deep breath. I can tell myself whatever I want, but this is just pasting a lie on top of worse lies. I have always been honest with myself, even in those times I wish I wouldn’t.
“I’m not the Asier that existed before that car accident. That’s the… most succinct way of putting it, I guess.”
Alazne takes a while to mull over this information, looking at me intently as she does so. The longer she stares at me like that, the more I wonder what’s going on in her head. Is she disappointed? Terrified? After she shakes her head slowly, she puts the paper with the doctor’s note back into my hands and cups my face.
“Asier, I love you for whom I know you to be.”
Wait, it doesn’t make sense, does it? I told Alazne that I had been travelling throughout Europe for years. Those are my own memories as a ghost. If we ever find out more about this body’s past, it might be that there is proof that I didn’t live abroad for years. Thankfully the doctor’s note isn’t that clear, and only uses the term ‘memory loss’ in a general way, maybe hoping that I would eventually regain many memories. But this sudden worry is just another reminder that I have a bomb attached to my body that might go off at any time, and I fear it will get so bad that every time Alazne opens her mouth I will feel an upsurge of anxiety.
“I retain… some memories. Images, a few sequences. I’m not entirely sure for how long I was travelling abroad, even though I did tell you exact years. I couldn’t speak at length about my experiences in other countries because I simply remember very little of them.”
Alazne nods in a way that reassures me she understands.
“I’m sure you lived a good life. You’re a kind person, and you make me happy.”
“T-that’s… part of why I kept quiet. I don’t think I was a very good person at all, Alazne.”
“How would you be sure?” she asks me with curiosity, her face mere centimeters away from mine. With a trembling finger, I wipe an errant strand of hair to behind her ear.
“Get this, I had no idea who Ainhoa, this body’s… ex-fiancée was. She appeared in the hospital because apparently I had her as my emergency contact, and she was pissed because of that. As far as I knew, I hadn’t seen that woman in my life.”
Alazne has one of those light bulb moments, because her face brightens and she raises her eyebrows.
“That’s right. I was so puzzled about your ex-fiancée’s words back at the aquarium. They hadn’t made any sense!”
“W-what words?”
“She said that she knew you weren’t yourself. That you weren’t Asier. That what happened to you was a miracle, proof that people can start over. So she wasn’t mad at you, because it would be like hating you for what someone else did.”
“… Are you sure she said that?”
“I must have blacked out back then or something…”
Damn it, Alazne retains far too many details. I barely recall anything of the conversation we had with Ainhoa in the aquarium. In my memory I only see her elegant, self-assured self standing there and looking into my eyes with a conflicted intimacy that shouldn’t have been aimed at me.
Alazne shakes her head and gives me a look of pity. That feels wrong. I don’t want my girlfriend, who likely needs to see me as an immovable rock, to consider me broken and weak. Not to mention that her fetishes demand me to be unrelenting and dominant.
I clear my throat.
“So in general I feel that this isn’t my body, that I’m not Asier Izcoa. You know what I mean…?”
It isn’t a lie, I tell myself, if she lacks the full context of a truth I tell.
“Of course I do,” Alazne says, and after a final look of relief, she throws her arms around me.
I want it to hurt, to punish myself. Maybe she shouldn’t know what’s coming out of my mouth.
“Alazne, Ainhoa told me that her relationship with me ended because I cheated on her,” I say gravely.
I feel how Alazne holds her breath, then slightly turns her face towards mine, even though our cheeks were already touching.
“… That’s right,” I say. “I have no memory of that happening, and just her word to go by, but… Ainhoa likely told the truth. So that’s the situation I find myself since the accident. I’m a new person inhabiting a body that I’m not familiar with, and I’m bogged down by a past, including the actions of the previous owner of this body, that feels disconnected with who I know myself to be now. Do… you understand?”
I learn an important lesson: the best lies are mostly made out of truths.
The next time I open my eyes, Alazne is staring at me from up close. Her eyes are glistening with emotion, but it seems that she won’t cry again. She nods at me.
“Kiss me,” she whispers. “Prove to me that it’s you in there.”
I don’t need many excuses to taste that tongue of hers. She shuts her eyes. She caresses my greying hair with one hand while her other hand rests on my chest.
“I love you. You’ll always be you no matter what form you have,” she says.
I don’t know how to respond back to her, and I know that her own resolve would crumble away if she knew she just made out with a woman who wears a man’s corpse to date her, so I just hold my girlfriend close and feel sad in the knowledge that I can’t hold on to this bliss forever.

As soon as we got up from that bench, both of us wanted to head home. I call a taxi, and it barely takes a couple of minutes to reach us in this popular area. The whole ride through, as Alazne and I sat next to each other on the back, we held each other’s hand and stroke it lovingly, as if we were playing a private game that the rest of the world failed to notice. When we return to the safety of our gated community, Alazne hurries to the front door of our house. Once inside she crosses her arms behind my neck and won’t pull away from my tongue. I fondle the length of her naked back under her berry blue chiffon blouse. Although I need to pee, I am tempted to unfasten her bra and power through it, but Alazne ends up breaking the kiss. She stands there looking up at me with glistening eyes and a warm smile.
“I’m going to grab the guitar, head to that room on the second floor and play until we need to prepare dinner,” she says. “Thank you for everything today, Asier, and for admitting something so difficult.”
“You are an angel. Don’t worry about stopping to prepare dinner with me. Play as much as you want, then come down to eat.”
Alazne grins, then turns around and skips to the hallway. She disappears out of sight. I lower my head and sigh. When I walk into the hallway, I catch my girlfriend leaving our bedroom while holding her guitar bag. She rushes up the stairs.
I get into the kitchen and pour myself a full glass of grape juice, which I then down in one gulp. I want someone to punch me hard. I sit on a stool at the free-standing counter, close to a ouija board and another call bell. I stare into the void while something foul churns in my guts.
As if I had forgotten about Alazne wanting to play the guitar, I’m startled by how a string rings out throughout the otherwise silent house as she starts tuning, and after she tries that note a few times, it’s followed by others.
I find myself leaning on the counter with my forearms crossed, and hiding my face.
“I hate myself,” I grumble. “I hate myself, I hate myself, I hate myself.”
I’m getting dizzier. As I lean back, I slip off the stool. My butt lands on the cold tile floor with a thud. I want to groan.
“No, I deserve this. I deserve this pain in my ass. I’m nothing but garbage who lies to the sweetest woman in the world.”
I rub the bridge of my nose while I close my eyes tight. I consider taking a nap right here. Suddenly, the call bell sounds as softly as possible, as if Kat attempted to gain only my attention, even though I doubt that Alazne would have noticed a truck crashing into our house given how passionately she’s playing her personal version of Neutral Milk Hotel’s ‘In The Aeroplane Over The Sea’. She sings as if we were the only inhabitants of this gated community, although to be fair I have only gotten glimpses of the living ghosts who own the other houses.
Kat insists on ringing the bell. I had already forgotten she had. Is something wrong with my brain today? I drag myself to my feet, then approach the ouija board.
The planchette spells out WHATS WRONG IRENE.
My left eye twitches.
“No ‘Irene’, my dear Kateryna. There are no Irenes in this house. Only Asier and Alazne and Kateryna. No other names matter, nor exist, as far as anyone in this household is concerned.”
My ears are ringing. Hating myself can easily translate into hating everyone around me.
“Yes, I know that the name Irene is out there. We can’t take that back. It’s firmly lodged in my beloved’s brain, which led to her interrogating you about who that person was, as she explained to me this afternoon. Do you understand my predicament?”
I’m raising my voice at an inanimate object. This is my life now.
The planchette glides to spell out SICK OF LYING.
I rub my hands over my face.
“You think I’m not? I feel like I’m rotting. Back when I was alive for the first time I hated people like me, building their lives on lies, faking all the way! I’m nothing but a phony wearing a disgusting man-body!”
I slam my palms against the ouija board, making the planchette jump. My heart is beating quickly.
“No! This can’t be good for my fucking soul, because I won’t have one if I keep this up! I wanna… I wanna tell her, but that’s not an option!” I point towards the ceiling in the direction of the room where Alazne is playing. “For a long time I just wished for Alazne to realize that I exist, and now she lives with me. I managed to get her a bare room in which she can sit on a stool in front of a wide window, so she can play the guitar as freely as she wants. That’s the love of my life right there. I should be melting of joy, and yet I feel as I’m sitting on a plastic chair and some bastard is going to run at me from behind and shatter the two back legs with a mighty kick!”
The planchette jumps in an arc back to the center of the board, and then it spells out SHES IN LOVE WITH A GHOST.
“Yes, yes, yes!” My voice is becoming hoarse. “Of course she is! I know that, and that’s the whole problem!”
I grab the edge of the counter and I bend over as I try to calm myself. It’s not working. Hearing Alazne playing joyfully only makes it worse.
“Maybe I’m a horrible person,” I mutter with a hollow voice. “I guess I always was. Back when I was alive, I didn’t care much about people nor about their well-being. After twenty years as a ghost I have little reason to lie to myself: I want what I want, and I’ll do what I can to get it. That’s just how it is.”
I feel my lips quivering.
“Alazne couldn’t see me. Of all the people I care about anymore, only you would have been able to both hear me and see me. I wanted to be seen. It’s not wrong to take other people’s bodies if they aren’t using them any longer. That’s why I have these powers to possess people, right? They must exist for a reason. In Asier’s body, I can touch Alazne as much as I want.”
The bell rings three times in a row. I know Kat will insist if I ignore her, so I raise my head towards the ouija board.
YOU ARE LOSING IT, the planchette spells out.
“Maybe I am!” I start yelling. “This isn’t easy for me! You can’t possibly understand my feelings! This is the only body Alazne can have sex with! I’m not going to abandon this life plan!”
“I don’t need to be happy! I just need to be near Alazne!”
The planchette remains still. I breathe hard through my mouth as I glare at the stupid board. Seconds later I wipe the spit from my mouth.
“Are you going to rat me out, Kateryna?” I say, fear peeking through my voice.
The planchette moves swiftly to the word NO.
“Then I guess we’re done here. You keep this between us. I don’t want my plans ruined.”
I only took a step towards the door when the bell rings again. I take a deep breath.
I hang my head low. I close my eyes, and I get to listen closely to Alazne’s guitar playing as she stretches out the last part of Joanna Newsom’s ‘Kingfisher’. Her voice is mournful.
“Is it not better that we can be together, even if I have to lie about who I am?” I say as if tearing out a piece of my chest. “Is it better for her to know the truth, when otherwise I can give her what she needs? I will love her, you know, to the end. If I hadn’t stalked her and intruded upon her life, she would be rotting alone, and one day she would have found the strength to hang herself.”
I open my eyes, although I don’t want to. I feel a tear rolling down my cheek.
“I will save her,” I say. “And if I have to lie to do so, then that’s what I’ll do.”
“I am what I need to be. It doesn’t matter to me.”
I clench my teeth and turn to the board, ready to tear it to pieces.
“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” I growl.
“I know what’s best for her.”
I stare without blinking at the quivering planchette. Talking my problems out with Kateryna always makes the world much clearer.
“Then she would be disgusted by me and hate me like I deserve. So she can never know.”

Roleplaying through “Re:Zero” with the GPT-3 story generator (Part 65)

This entry covers part of the eleventh volume of the original “Re:Zero” novels.

In the previous entry, the Witch of Pride wanted in on the tea party, and we got further proof that the protagonist focuses on trying to fuck almost everything that moves whenever he needs to escape from how much of a nightmare his life has become.

An obsidian black, closed iron maiden has appeared out of nowhere a bit further on the hillock. The mere sight of it conjures images of torture in dungeons, and dungeons are no longer an abstract concept for you. You have been through hell and came out alive. You repeat that to yourself as you stand up from the chair and approach the iron maiden cautiously. Even though you don’t dare touch it, it feels heavy and cold.
As you get so close that it would take lunging twice to touch the dark metal, the iron maiden’s doors open. A cold shiver makes you tremble before you register how the girl inside looks. It’s a teenager, or at least her emaciated, small body suggests it. She has raven-black, frizzy hair that comes down in two ponytails. She’s wearing a white straightjacket that reminds you of black and white photos of sanatoriums, and her body is held in place by chains attached to the back and sides of the iron maiden. More importantly, though, the girl’s lips are bitten off. They are a bloody, glistening mess of raw flesh, as if this girl had chewed on them. No, had eaten them, her own lips. The impression you get is of an insane girl locked up in a dark room for years, who has no other recourse but to cannibalize herself.
You won’t look at this girl’s eyes. The fear has frozen you in place. You don’t want to remain in this death-dream any longer. Hell, you don’t want to exist in the same universe that contains someone like this.
“Ya wanned ‘o shee me”, the girl mumbles as blood drips out of her mouth. Half of her tongue is gone. “He’e I am.”
You swallow. Your legs are trembling. You want to run away, but that would disappoint Echidna. You have faced far worse than a cursed girl who has experienced nothing but a nightmare for her entire life, you tell yourself.
“I did… I did, Daphne. I wanted to know you personally.”
You are talking to a living, breathing being trapped in a situation that would break most people. Perhaps even yourself.
“You look sho good, Shubawu”, she mumbles with pure hunger in her voice. “I would like ‘o bi’e you sho much.”
Daphne is drooling heavily, and it drips from her chin in a mix of her sticky saliva and blood from her open wounds around her dyed teeth. Your stomach churns. You fear you might vomit at any moment. This is the most twisted, insane thing you have ever seen or heard. You don’t know what to do.
“You want to eat me, I’m guessing… Is that how it feels, Daphne? You even want to eat people?”
“I wanna ea’ evewyone, Shubawu”, she says, her voice the embodiment of a madwoman. “Evewyone. I wanna ea’ evewyone and evewy’hing.”
A surge of warmth reaches your eyes, and a tear runs down your cheek. You don’t know if it’s from pure fear or from the thought that anyone could live like this girl and yet fail to go completely insane. But you can’t help it. You pity her, even if she wants to eat you.
“Why a’e you cwying, Shubawu?” Daphne slurs.
Your throat is closing.
“Because the world is horrible”, you say with a trembling voice.
You expect Daphne to agree with you, but instead she laughs, a horrible mix of a chuckle and a wheeze.
“I’ ish fine ash long ash you go’ enough ‘o ea’, ishn’ i’?” Daphne stops laughing, and you feel her stare burning your face, as if she could see through your skin and bone and into your brain. “Sho you came ‘o me ‘caushe you wanna kill Gwea’ Wabbi’?”
You tighten your lips and swallow something hot that was bubbling up your esophagus.
“… That’s right. Those little guys of yours ate me. Although ‘ate’ doesn’t feel like a strong enough word for what they did…”
“‘hank you sho much for feeding my babiesh. Wash vewy nice of you.”
You want to argue, but it would be pointless. For this creature in front of you, satisfying her hunger means good, remaining hungry means bad. At least you understand both the White Whale and the Great Rabbit now.
“Daphne, could you tell me why you created those monsters of yours, the White Whale, the Great Rabbit…?”
You expect her to laugh again, or say something like ‘who knows?’, but she answers seriously.
“My babiesh we’e my gif’ ‘o da wowld.”
You frown, not understanding. You can’t glean much about her expression: because she ate her own lips, her drooling mouth displays her teeth as if she were grinning or snarling constantly. And just glancing at her features is making you dizzy.
“Was that sarcasm, Witch of Gluttony?”, you ask as firmly as you can when you risk vomiting, “Those babies of yours have done little else, it seems, than cause destruction and erase thousands of people from the world, whether by removing the memories of them or consuming them to the last drop of blood. Are you messing with me?”
She shakes her head.
“Nah ah-ah-ah. I wan’ed people ‘o feed on my babiesh. Whaley ish big and mea’y, and ‘here awe sho many of my bunniesh da’ people could fill ‘hem belliesh foweve’.”
You shiver. You can tell now that this deranged witch isn’t joking. In her twisted mind she had wished to bless the world, but because her all consuming hunger is never fully satisfied, she can’t think in terms of anything else. As a result she let loose two curses on the people of this world that were so unstoppable that the population of different nations had to handle her babies as natural disasters. Maybe you can make Daphne understand, maybe she could stop her monsters even from her spectral imprisonment.
You get closer to the iron maiden, but Daphne flinches. The flow of drool that drips from her chin, washing away the blood from her eaten lips, increases, and her saliva hangs in viscous threads. Suddenly the bottom sides of the iron maiden grows six paired metallic legs, and as soon as the tips touch the ground they lift the iron maiden and crawl away from you. The sight of those impossible legs stops you, and your head hurts for a moment as it struggles to handle its current reality.
“I would s’ay away if I we’e you, Shubawu”, the Witch of Gluttony mumbles, “You look vewy appe’izing.”
You are trembling from head to toe. You want to vomit, you want to lie on the floor and cry. But Echidna is watching, and you don’t want that goddess to take you for a weakling. You force yourself to stare at Daphne’s bloody teeth and the glistening, raw flesh that surrounds them.
“Your monsters haven’t been feeding people, they have been eating them! Do you understand what you have done? Both the White Whale and the Great Rabbit are curses upon this world!”
“Why, would you have my babiesh lie ‘here and le’ ‘hemshelves be ea’en ash if ‘hey we’e a cooked meal? If ‘he people of ‘hish wowld we’e craf’y enough, ‘hey would have been able ‘o hun’ down Whaley and ‘he bunniesh. My babiesh have ‘o fill ‘heir belliesh ‘oo.”
“This is madness! They need to die, and you need to…”
You stop yourself. You are standing so close to the iron maiden that it would take those metallic legs jumping forward for the Witch of Gluttony to reach you, and all you have are words. Are words enough?
“You call madnesh ‘he law of na’ure”, Daphne mumbles, “Evewyone ish in a rush ‘o ea’ shomeone elshe sho ‘hey can live ano’her day. Echidna figured ou’ you a’e fwom ano’her wowld. Ish i’ no’ ea’ o’ be ea’en ‘here ash well?”
You can’t argue with that, and can’t say anything at the moment either, because a sudden wave of dizziness and nausea forces you to hunch over and retch. You vomit what remains of Echidna’s tea, along with a good quantity of bile, splashing the grass. You feel covered in cold sweat. While you support yourself on your knees and wheeze, Daphne continues.
“Even plan’sh have ‘o ge’ ‘heir nu’ien’sh from shomewhewe, you know? And ‘hey feel pain when ‘hey ge’ ea’en, even ‘hough you can’ hear ‘hem shcream. You ei’her ea’ or you ge’ ea’en. I’sh ‘he main law of ‘he wowld. If you don’ ‘hink sho, shomeone elshe ish doing ‘he killing for you.”
You wipe the vomit from your mouth, and you manage to raise your head and look at Daphne with wide, teary eyes. You desperately wish for this witch to go away, but if she vanished now, you wouldn’t have learned anything of value. You straighten your back.
“Daphne, I need to kill the Great Rabbit. Not only I risk getting devoured myself, but everyone in Sanctuary is going to die as well. Your friend Echidna agrees that your monster needs to disappear from this world. If you truly created it for the benefit of mankind, in your twisted way, please give me advice on how to destroy it.”
Daphne laughs.
“I’sh ei’her an imbe’ishiwe lil’ crea’uwe ‘hat killsh wheneve’ it deshiwes and ish neve’ sha’ishfied, or ‘he Gwea’ Wabbi’ ish a friendly beash’ie who jush’ wan’ed a hug.”
You aren’t sure you understood everything she said, but you are getting mad anyway.
“I don’t have time for bullshit, Daphne. Just looking at the lower half of your face is going to give me nightmares for years. Please tell me whether you will give me advice on how to defeat the Great Rabbit. If you won’t, we are done here.”
Daphne grins, or at least the way the raw flesh around her teeth widens suggests it.
“I will ‘ell you, Shubawu! I like you vewy much. And no’ only becaushe I wanna fill my belly wi’ you! My bunniesh prefe’ shourcesh of magic, sho ‘hey will shniff ‘he mo’ powewful magiciansh awound and ‘wy ‘o ea’ ‘hem. Mo’ impor’anly, you need ‘o kill ‘he Gwea’ Wabbi’ a’ once, meaning all of i’sh individual bodiesh, or elshe i’ will quickly pwoduce new bunniesh.”
You wipe the sweat from your forehead. You had expected this witch to laugh at you and mumble for you to fuck off, but she helped you. The rabbits are attracted to the biggest sources of magic, and all of them need to be killed as close to immediately as possible. That’s enough information to send Daphne away, you think.
“Awen’ you gonna ea’ you’ vomi’?”, Daphne asks with an anxious voice. “You a’e wash’ing food!”
Before you even realize you are doing it, you step over the puke and stand closer to the iron maiden. The metallic legs twitch, but they don’t retreat.
“No, I won’t eat my vomit, Daphne”, you say with a hollow voice. “Let me tell you, I pity you. You have been cursed with one of the worst conditions I can imagine, but it’s been a long time since you were a child, and in your brain there must be a commanding center freed from your overwhelming impulses that understands that you have led to the death of countless people. So I can’t forgive you. I will use your advice and erase the Great Rabbit from this world.”
“Hwoe hwoe!”
You look into Daphne’s disgusting open mouth, and stare into the blackness of her throat.
“… Was that an attempt at mocking me?”
“Nobody hash managed ‘o kill my babiesh in hundredsh of yearsh, bu’ you believe you will be able ‘o, Shubawu?”
“Yes, I will kill your baby, Daphne”, you say with more force in your voice that you had managed since you first spoke to this disgusting witch. “None of the others who tried could try over and over, learning from their mistakes along the way. I will win.”
You are too dizzy and angry to realize that your gaze has slipped upwards and has met hers. The Witch of Gluttony’s eyes are a bright yellow that instead of feeling painted on the surface of her eyeballs, it deepens into them. You feel you are staring into a yellow horizon that has trapped your gaze, and you will need to struggle to pull it away.
“Bring i’ on ‘hen, Shubawu”, Daphne says with a menacing voice.
The crab-like legs that hold the iron maiden in the air coordinate themselves to carry the Witch of Gluttony further into the hillock, but you only notice her vanishing out of the corner of your eye. You are shaking. Your mouth is filling with saliva. It feels as if a black hole has opened in your stomach, and it’s sucking the walls in. You need to eat now or you will die. The world becomes a monochrome shadow, and nothing in it matters any longer but what you could shove into your mouth.
Your stomach keeps convulsing and the hole in the middle of your body keeps growing. You lick your lips and are overwhelmed by the need to eat, but there is no food around, only vomit. The smell is overpowering and your vision tunnels and you are shaking all over. Then your eyes flicker to what you threw up. The sight of your puke makes you salivate heavily. As you extend your shaky arms towards the liquid dripping down the grass, you stop and look at your hands. Those fingers, the thick flesh at the base of your thumb… You had never seen something so tasty. You sink your teeth into that succulent meat, chewing on it desperately, feeling the thick blood leaking down your chin. You swallow big pieces, then you move to biting chunks of meat off your fingers. The pain is worth it, the deliciousness…
“Subaru, look at me.”
You recognize Echidna’s voice. She is standing in front of her tea table and looking at you calmly. You swallow the tasty meat you were chewing, then focus on the witch. You had never noticed before, but that beautiful face of hers, those glistening black eyes… You need to fill yourself with her. You must grab the sides of Echidna’s head and bite off her nose, eat her cheeks, tear off her lips, suck on her eyeballs until they pop out of their sockets.
You take a step towards the Witch of Greed, but a thought manages to float over the tide of hunger: you don’t want to hurt Echidna. You are very close to falling in love with her. But you won’t be able to contain yourself for long.
“Stay away from me, Echidna!”, you shout with a trembling, pained voice. “That Daphne has given me her hunger! It’s way too much… I can’t think straight!”
Echidna doesn’t flinch. Instead she smiles, her eyes narrowing.
“And now you want to eat me as well.”
You hear the creaking of your bones, the growling of your stomach, the thundering of your pulse.
“Stay… Stay away from me…”
Echidna steps forward, then turns her palms towards you and moves them further apart as if welcoming you.
“Come closer, Subaru. I want to know what you will choose.”
“I… Echidna…”
You picture yourself ripping Echidna’s shoulder off and biting into the meat of her arm. You imagine chewing through her delicious skin, feeling her sweet blood on your tongue. You squeeze your eyes shut and grab your head.
“No!”, you shout through your clenched teeth. “Please, stay away from me! Most of my brain is demanding me to eat you… The parts of me that decide whether something is good or bad only want me to fill my stomach. I can’t barely keep it together. Please, Echidna, save yourself.”
When you open your eyes again and glance at the Witch of Greed, you see that she’s walking slowly towards you.
“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you really do love me”, Echidna says softly.
You turn your face away from her, but she grabs your chin and forces you to look at her.
“If you want to devour me, go ahead.”
You shake your head frantically, trying to avoid her gaze. Your mouth is filled with warm saliva, and you need to keep it open or else you risk choking on the liquid. Your drool is dripping from your chin. Echidna can’t understand how much you wish to eat her alive. You should sate your hunger with something else, but even your own flesh can’t compete with how appetizing the pale witch looks. You want to lunge at her, grab her with as much strength as you can muster, and sink your teeth into her face. You imagine her screaming in agony, but you don’t let go. You bite through the soft, warm meat and crunch through the bone. You imagine yourself chewing and swallowing the delicious morsel. You wouldn’t stop until only her bones remained, stripped of meat.
“Eat me, my love. I’m all yours”, Echidna says while bending forward and offering her long, elegant neck to you. Her lips are pouted and moist, and her eyes are filled with anticipation and longing.
Your teeth tingle, and you can practically feel your mouth bursting with a near-uncontrollable hunger as the muscles in your jaw contract involuntarily. Your stomach rumbles. You feel dizzy and confused.
You turn your head and grit your teeth, then push Echidna away from you.
“I will not! I don’t want to hurt you, no matter how much my brain orders me to!”
Echidna steps closer and embraces you. You go limp in her hands as if the witch had taken over the control of your body. She leans over you while she narrows her glistening eyes, and wields a loving smile on her rosy lips.
“That’s so sweet”, she whispers. “It’s been so long since someone made me feel this way.”
As the Witch of Greed holds the back of your head, she opens her mouth, extends her tongue and lets a phlegm fall into your open mouth.
“Swallow, Subaru. Do it for me”, she says quietly.
You allow her slimy spit to slide down your throat while she smiles lovingly at you. As soon as you gulp her phlegm down, the hunger disappears. You are left with the memory of how it had overwhelmed your brain like a virus, taking over the specialized centers that handled different aspects of how to exist as a human being, only to manipulate them into convincing you of focusing on nothing else but sating your bottomless hunger.
You are still stunned when Echidna steps back while pulling you in so you stand on your own feet. You haven’t broken the embrace. Your hand doesn’t hurt either, so she must have healed it immediately as well. You stare into Echidna’s black eyes and those white, vertical pupils with awe, affection and trust like you don’t believe you have ever felt for another person. She has saved you twice from horrifying destinies. The Witch of Greed is as powerful as a god, and yet she helps you this much.
“Thank you”, you say as you recover your breath.
Echidna closes one eye to look at you coyly with her other. The closeness of your bodies is making her blush, a conspicuous redness on her snow white skin.
“Maybe I should have warned you more strongly about how bad of an idea looking into Daphne’s eyes would be, but we ended up learning something interesting, didn’t we? You have a knack for seducing witches…”
Your heart is beating so loud that you can’t hear yourself breathing heavily. You slide your hand under Echidna’s silky, white hair so you can cup the back of her head, and then you lean forward to kiss her mouth. The taste of her tongue reminds you of honey.
Echidna puts her hands on your shoulders to keep some space between you, but doesn’t push you away. She closes her eyes while you hold her as closely as you can. Your heart is beating out of your chest, and you feel faint. After several seconds, Echidna opens her eyes again, looking at you with a mixture of bashfulness and guilt, and her tongue leaves your mouth.
“I shouldn’t be doing this,” she whispers.
You tilt her head to kiss along her graceful neck. Echidna shivers in your arms.
“Yeah, we should. I don’t care if your witch friends witness it. We should stay here and make love over and over, forever.”
Echidna lets out a mischievous sigh, and she rubs your back with her hands.
“Ah… You will end up making me want to give up everything as well”, she whispers. “But we can’t. The death-dream won’t stay up eternally. In fact, it won’t last for much longer. And you have to make sure you can get past this loop and continue with your life, for both our sakes.”
“None of that matters now.”
You fondle the witch’s ass with one hand, run your fingers through her hair with the other, and lick her small ear with your eager mouth. Echidna moans softly.
“Make sure you… don’t fall in love with me. Make sure you still hold fondness for the people you miss on the outside. You are trying to escape from your troubles.”
“I’ll keep them in mind when I go back, but right now… you’re the only person that matters.”
Echidna slides her hands under your shirt, and her warm hands caress your naked lower back.
“Then let’s do it… one more time.”
Your lips press against hers, and her tongue enters your mouth. Her hands slide up your back as if she were about to take your shirt off, but then she moves them to your front to fondle your chest with her fingers. Both of your hands now rub her supple ass. Echidna releases you from the kiss and lets out a long breath.
“I’m afraid that will have to be all for now, Subaru. Until you come back again”, Echidna says while she breathes heavily and her eyes glow as if drugged.
Even though a pang pierces your heart, you nod, then follow the Witch of Greed as she leads you by the hand back to the tea table. You sit in your chairs, then lift your gazes at each other over the teacups and the teapot as if you had entered her death-dream seeking her wisdom. You can tell that she’s forcing herself to come down from her arousal, but for the moment she’s not a powerful witch, merely a person who wants to love and be loved. These are feelings you understand well, so you help her down from them.
“That Daphne…”, you begin, then swallow. “She lives in hell.”
“Yes, she does.”
“I don’t know if I experienced her curse to the extent she does every waking moment, but… she deserves some credit for remaining lucid enough after hundreds of years of such a nightmare.”
Echidna nods, and drinks from her teacup as if trying to calm herself. Her nostrils are widened.
“Our burdens aren’t equivalent. She is bound by chains stronger than those that bind the rest of us.”
“Well… The little advice she gave me will have to do. I don’t feel capable of facing her again at the moment.”
“Make no mistake: if the White Whale didn’t content herself with hunting in specific areas every couple of weeks, or the Great Rabbit roamed the land instead of sleeping underground and only emerging when it has snowed significantly, only for them to move somewhere else as soon as they’ve had their fill for the day, the world would end.”
“I had understood that much. Everyone of us hanging out in Sanctuary is going to be eaten alive if I don’t stop those rabbits.”
Echidna’s eyes smile at you fondly over the rim of her teacup.
“Which is a significant part of why you can’t give up and spend the rest of eternity tending to this old maiden’s sexual needs, Subaru, as much as I would enjoy it.”
You sigh.
“It’s hard not to accept defeat when it would taste so good. But can I ask you a serious question about Sanctuary?”
“Go ahead, Subaru.”
“It’s your town, isn’t it? You founded it. So why did you, why here, why the whole thing with the barrier, the half-breeds, all that…?”
“It’s a long story, of course. But the short version is that Sanctuary wasn’t my idea. I needed some solitary land to carry out my research in peace. Back in the old world I approached the Mathers household, and they granted me this backwoods barony, which was as perfect for my purposes as they came. The Mathers lineage would benefit from my research, and I would also take a few of their talented younglings as wards, if I had the patience for it. The Mathers also acted as mediators when I needed people to build houses or dig further into the ground. But back then there wasn’t anything resembling a village, just a few houses for me and the few people that hung around, as well as my laboratories and storage facilities. Through my research I ended up realizing that the blood of half-breeds was vital for figuring out how to find a cure for the worst injustice that ever plagued living beings: that of being born just to die. It was a terrible time for demi-humans back then, because some had gotten particularly rowdy and launched wars of conquest against human nations. They lost, and plenty of the refugees, some of which only intended to live in peace and never agreed with the hostilities, found themselves rejected in human territories. Soon the rumour that a sanctuary awaited them in the backwoods of the Mathers territory reached their ears, and many families found their way over here. They understood that I wanted them for my research, but in exchange they found the safety to live with their families in peace. It became a symbiotic relationship.”
You want Echidna to explain how the barrier came to be, but a wave of dizziness ripples through you. You hunch over and grab your head. Even though for a moment you felt as if you were about to pass out, you end up taking a deep breath and rubbing your shoulders.
“Sorry for interrupting you. Something was wrong with me for a moment…”
Echidna stares at you gravely.
“Some disturbance in the outside is waking you up, Subaru. Our time together has come to an end.”
It must be Emilia. She has woken up from her own nightmare, and must be shaking you awake. You are so disappointed that you want to punch the table, but you take a deep breath. You know that Echidna was telling the truth, that by you wanting to spend the rest of your conscious life with the Witch of Greed as her sexual plaything, you are escaping from your troubles the same way you did back at the capital, during that self-imposed loop that usually ended with you guillotining yourself. You will have to return to that cold, harsh world outside, and wade through your many obstacles over and over until you succeed. How much will the experience change now that you will be able to remember Echidna?
You both stand up and walk until you face each other next to the table. You don’t want to say goodbye, but she speaks first.
“I had such a lovely time, Subaru.” Echidna smiles warmly at you. “But still, every visit to my death-dream requires payment.”
You are pretty sure she made up these rules, but you shrug.
“Sure. Take from me whatever you want.”
“That’s pretty generous of you.”
As you breathe in her scent, you realize that your feelings for her go beyond love. You worship her. You would die permanently to protect her if need be.
“But for now I’ll be content if you offer me that accessory of yours”, Echidna says while pointing at your right wrist.
You are confused about what she means, but you realize you have a handkerchief tied around your wrist. How did a handkerchief end up there? Ah, that precocious trainee tied it as a custom of her village or some shit. You chuckle with disbelief.
“Are you sure you want this? It’s completely worthless.”
Echidna tilts her head and offers you a smile of understanding.
“You aren’t aware, but objects imbued with the earnest wishes of young maidens hold a special magic of their own.”
You grimace as you snap your head back.
“You are fucking with me, aren’t you…”
Echidna can’t keep a straight face. She covers her mouth while her shoulders tremble, but she ends up bursting into laughter. You laugh as well.
“Don’t play around with my lack of knowledge like that!”, you complain.
Echidna wipes one of her eyes.
“Sorry, sorry. But I assure you, after what I intend to do to it, it won’t be useless any longer.”
She takes your arm by the forearm and lets her free hand hang over the handkerchief. She closes her eyes, and even though nothing seems to have happened, when she opens her eyes again she seems content. She lowers your arm gently.
You bow.
“I assume that has done something. Thank you. I assure you, Witch of Greed, I’ll come visit you as soon as I can.”
Echidna looks down. You don’t like one bit the sadness that showed on her pale face.
“Subaru, you truly don’t understand. The requirement for entering a death-dream gets increasingly harder, and the next time you will have to surpass your request for knowledge that you had uttered while you had gone insane.”
You go cold. You stare at her, waiting for the witch to add some comment that would lessen the finality of her words, but none come. She looks worried that this meeting might have been the last time.
“Please, Echidna, don’t tell me I will never see you again”, you mutter with your throat almost squeezed shut.
The Witch of Greed steps forward and places her hand on your chest, over your heart.
“I wish I knew the answer, and you know how much it bothers me not to know something. Let’s hope that you will find your way back to me, and next time we will have something very important to discuss about our future.”
The Witch of Greed kisses you on the cheek, and as she does so, her form vanishes while her death-dream collapses on itself.

Note from January of 2021:

The part where the protagonist meets Daphne took me a lot to finish. I tend to dive deeply into the scenes in my mind, I guess, and I felt dizzy through it. As if that wasn’t enough, I lost my current job midway through. Other times I embrace these pauses between jobs as opportunities to do stuff I actually want to use my time in, but now I feel like shit.

My Own Desert Places, Pt. 19 (GPT-3 fueled short)

After I invited my girlfriend to move into my fancy house in the outskirts of Hondarribia, and next to a graveyard, she didn’t want to delay it. She never enjoyed living in her dreary working-class apartment in Irún. Even though Alazne was already sleeping in my house every night, in the mornings we travelled back to her apartment and organized the move. Fortunately only her fridge belonged to her, as the old one that came with the house had broken down, so the moving company wouldn’t have to bother hauling bothersome dressers, cupboards, shelving units and the like. However, even if she had bought that furniture, the mahogany is worn and smells like old people, while the stuff in my expensive house only brings joy to all who enter it.
We gathered all the cardboard boxes we could find, and I even brought some from my attic, but I had to buy bubble wrap, duct tape and other material which I had previously associated with making collages. We went room by room taking stuff out of her dressers and cupboards and counters, and spent time deciding what could be thrown out. We didn’t need to move her guitar into my place, because she brought it the second day she came to my house, and it now rests against the full-body mirror of my bedroom.
As Alazne and I took turns walking down to the street to throw out bulky garbage bags, the neighborhood busybodies, groups of old women who had few qualms about gossiping, whether cruelly or not, about people within earshot, must have put two and two together in their rapidly mouldering brains and realized that Alazne must be preparing to abandon them. I’m surprised that some of these old biddies haven’t confronted me in some manner due to my presence in the neighborhood. I guess I look tough enough. Besides, that old man in his sweaty tracksuit, who was always attached to his tiny dog, must be doing the rounds, and every time I turn around I expect I’ll have to face that wrinkly mug. I hate old people. I hate them because they are close to death and I don’t want to die because the afterlife is shit.
I was especially careful when throwing away the sheet-noose with which Alazne had intended to hang herself. When she saw me putting it in a garbage bag and I told her that I would throw it in the container, she narrowed her eyes and nodded silently, as if making peace with it.
In three days Alazne and I ended up with a cluster of boxes near the doorway of her living room. We had written on all of the boxes, in every side, to what room the contents originally belonged, and we also kept a written list of all the boxes we were going to move, in case the movers were idiots and would lose some along the short ride to the neighboring city.
We stood in my girlfriend’s kitchen, now mostly empty except for the furniture and her fridge, and we wiped the sweat from our faces with a towel.
“I’m going to miss this shitty apartment,” I say to Alazne. “I know that for you this place has become associated with many terrible memories, but I only have good ones. I can never go back and spend my first full night with you anywhere else. And all those hours we held each other in the dark… I feel as if I should steal your bed out of principle.”
Alazne chuckles despite herself.
“You’re silly, you know that?” she says with a smile. “But you are right, besides the shows I’ve watched, the manga I’ve read and the… private time I have enjoyed in here, my brain associates this apartment with a dark well from which I couldn’t escape. So the sooner I put it behind me, the better.”
We take a moment of silence to look around the room.
“So… this is it, then?” I ask her as she stares at the fridge.
Alazne nods.
“This is it. I’ll tell the landlord he can keep the fridge.”

I don’t know where Alazne went that afternoon, but she met the landlord and gave him the keys of her now old apartment. Meanwhile, as I sat at the table on the balcony of my home in Hondarribia, I browsed the internet for some moving company. From time to time, as I drank grape juice I gazed at how the shadows were elongating on the green, wavy ground of the neighboring countryside.
I used the power of a dead man’s money to hire some movers, so we wouldn’t break our backs loading all those boxes from her apartment, not to mention that we wouldn’t be able to carry her stuff to my house otherwise. I have money, so I hire other people to do stuff that would be too annoying for me. Besides paying to shove enough food into your mouth every day, paying to push your inconveniences on other people is why money exists, and I’ll beat up anyone who argues otherwise. I have been ramping up my workout routine now that Alazne can peek as I’m lifting weights, and the testosterone flowing through my veins is pleading for me to batter someone up. I fear that one of these days it won’t even care whose face I destroy. Male bodies are like ticking bombs, it seems.
It’s nine and a half in the morning and the two big guys of the moving company are walking up to the third floor to haul boxes down. I don’t want to stand around while Alazne is watching, and I need to show off my muscles, so I contribute.
The tall, dark-skinned Colombian guy, a detail we know because he readily shared it during the first two minutes he chatted with us, is bending over to lift what ended up being the heaviest box, one filled with stuff from Alazne’s bedroom. I approach him and crouch on the other side of the box.
“You take that side and me this one,” I say.
“Sure, buddy.”
I stop for a moment as he grabs his side of the box. Buddy, he called me? Was he being condescending? He’s looking for a fight, isn’t he? I shake my head, then sigh and grab the top of the box. We lift it off the floor. Even with two people handling it, it’s heavier than I would have thought. Alazne and I should have distributed the contents into at least three or four boxes, but we had no clue what we were doing. In any case, my biceps flex with satisfaction, and they will likely look good for Alazne. I hope she gets to see my efforts.
The mover and I walk downstairs, both struggling under the weight. As we were crossing the pavement towards the open back of the truck, I spot that Alazne is standing close by with her back to us, because one of the neighborhood busybodies has approached my beloved. That might be one of the evil witches who talked trash about Alazne, suggesting that having to listen to her passionate guitar playing was a curse. I’m not sure, though. To me these old broads look interchangeable. She must be half senile as well, because her hair is styled with one of those wiry perms with which old women around these parts ruin their crumbling looks.
I stop, causing the Colombian mover to stagger and question why he’s left holding a very heavy box. But I’m paying attention to the old woman who’s accosting Alazne, in case I need to step in and headbutt an old skull.
“So you are moving out with your boyfriend?” the old woman asks with a smile.
Alazne, who likely never held this woman’s gaze before, nods nervously.
“You don’t need to sound so proud of it. You make it seem like you are doing something bad, with all the shame and guilt that normal people have.”
“I’m not ashamed! I love him!” my beloved raises her voice indignantly.
A smirk forms on the old woman’s lips as she cocks her head to one side. For a brief second our eyes meet, but she quickly returns her gaze to my beloved. That’s right, I think. You have no clue who you are dealing with.
“Love, huh?” the old woman says. “You will keep playing the guitar there, right?”
“Y-yes, of course…”
“Hey, dude…” the mover says to me, but I ignore him.
The old woman puts her hand on Alazne’s shoulder.
“Keep it up, dear. Good luck to you.”
As my girlfriend stands there still, the old woman hobbles away. I wonder if she’s genuinely happy because Alazne won’t rot alone in her misery, or because the old woman won’t have to listen anymore how Alazne plays the guitar, or moans, or pleads for daddy to put it in.
I shake my head and turn to the mover.
“Carry on.”

Once all of our boxes sit on the back of the truck, the two movers close the rear doors. The Colombian guy approaches Alazne and I as he wipes the dust off his hands. The morning light shines on a bead of sweat that rolls down his forehead.
“Alright, we’re done here. This address you gave me, though… It looks as if there’s only a graveyard there?”
“Yeah, it’s a… private place. A community adjoined to the graveyard. Don’t worry, drive to the exact address. It will be there.”
“Got it.”
We exchange a firm handshake as I give him a nod.
“Why are we shaking now, though? Aren’t we getting in your truck?”
The mover raises his eyebrows.
“Uhh… No, there’s only space for my cousin and I. The clients are supposed to drive to their new home in their personal vehicle.”
“We don’t have a car, though. Those things are death machines.”
The mover seems to give it some thought.
“Yeah, they pretty much are. But anyway, maybe I can ask my cousin to go get his car and drive you both to your new home.”
He points at the skinny mover waiting by the truck’s passenger door. He briefly looks in our direction before lowering his gaze back to his cell phone.
“Nah, it’s okay,” I say. “He looks shady. Whatever, I’ll call a taxi. I have lots of money.”
“Alright then… We’ll drive to your creepy graveyard house. Call me if you will take too long to get there.”
“Sure. Don’t disappear with our boxes, please.”
The mover chuckles as we shake hands once again.
After the moving truck that carries Alazne’s stuff drives away, my beloved hugs me tightly and rests her head on my chest. I run my fingers along her scalp. A few seconds later I pull out my phone to call the taxi company. Once the dispatcher assures me that one of their taxis will reach us sooner or later, I hang up and I look down the street anxiously. From here to the end of the street there are four other nearly identical five-story, working-class apartment buildings, painted slightly different so the inhabitants don’t suffocate under the weight of their insignificance. To our left is the taller, larger apartment building whose inhabitants have put their money together to fence their place up and set up some security cameras, which isn’t very likely to deter the criminals, as people need to do some really nasty shit, or bother a politician, to get sent to jail.
The absence of that man is making me nervous.
“Alazne, do you recall having seen around, and been bothered by, an old man who always wears a blue tracksuit and who walks a brown, tiny Maltese dog?”
“No. I honestly don’t pay much attention to the people around here. Why?”
I don’t answer. So this is it, huh? I would have sworn that no matter at what hour we had organized moving our boxes to the movers’ truck, so Alazne could flee from this working-class hole forever, the old man would be standing nearby while his pocket dog took a shit. He would be wearing the same never washed tracksuit that probably stinks like some old folks home in which the employees are particularly neglectful. And yet, in our final hour there’s no sign of the man anywhere. What was your purpose then, you shoddy old turd, if you don’t force me into a confrontation when the timing is right? I swear some people merely exist to make others feel shittier for no fucking reason, as if the universe had to fill a quota.
And what kind of life is that, huh? Relentlessly trying to keep the peace in his crumbling territory, a self-appointed watchman against every weirdo who wanders in and could remotely inconvenience the locals. Disliked and dismissed by everyone, even the neighbors, only for one day to pass away without anybody giving it a second thought.
My throat tightens, and I find myself needing to blink a few times. I pull away from Alazne’s embrace to stand straight, bringing my feet closer together.
“Alazne, salute,” I tell her.
“What?” she asks me, puzzled.
Shinzou wo sasageyo!
My beloved doesn’t need any other explanation. We both cross our left arm behind our lower back, then our right forearm across our chest, so we can clench our right fist over our heart.

I wake up with the morning light that shines through the window near my side of the bed. My body feels relaxed as if it has appreciated the nine or ten hours of sleep, even though some of my muscles, particularly those in my arms, are stiff from lifting heavy boxes. Next to me sleeps the love of my life, who has spent her first night as my live-in girlfriend. Alazne is lying face up, with one arm over her head and touching the headboard slat, which has raised that breast. Its rosy nipple peeks out from under the sheet. My girl is breathing through her mouth, and I watch for a while how her chest raises and falls. She smells like stale sweat, sex, and her own particular smell that I can’t describe. She’s really here, in my house, in my bed, and she will remain with me forever.
I stand up carefully from the bed, then walk up to the curtains to draw them so my angel can sleep for a bit longer, but either she was already awake or me shifting my weight around on the mattress must have done it, because I hear her yawning. When I turn back, Alazne stretches adorably as she shuts her eyelids tight. She opens them again, and I give her a smile.
“Good morning, beautiful.”
“Hey,” she replies, a little groggily.
“Sleep well?”
“Never better.”
I walk up to the bed and climb on, then straddle her waist. I tickle her sides while she grins and squirms, until she begs me to stop. I lean forward with my arms pressed against hers, so my chest touches hers. As I look into those hazel eyes, I feel complete.
“I love you, you know,” Alazne says.
“I bet.”
I lean in closer to kiss her, but she turns away. I stare at her with a raised eyebrow. She bites her lip as her cheeks redden.
“I have morning breath.”
I sigh dramatically, then stand up from the bed even though my boxers already feel too tight.
“I’ll allow you your dignity, I suppose.”
I walk to the bathroom, which is thankfully far enough from the master bedroom, and while pissing I check this body out in the mirror. The beard is starting to grow out a bit now that I have stopped shaving it every other day. Quite a few greys in there. My hair has a month or so to grow before it looks as if I just don’t care. I brush my teeth, then I spit the froth down the drain.
Now comes the dangerous part: to take a shit silently enough that I won’t feel like my girlfriend is sitting on the bed while hearing my farts and wondering why she’s dating me. When I finish up, I hold my breath in case I hear Alazne crying. Then I wipe my ass as carefully as someone wearing a man’s body must now that his girlfriend is always around. You never know when Alazne is going to stick her nose close to my ass, not to mention that this body I stole has plenty of hair down there, which seems designed to catch nasty residues. I spit on every piece of toilet paper to clean myself thoroughly, and after the latest piece of paper doesn’t show me a stain, I still crouch in front of the bidet to shoot a stream of water at my anal area. Then I perform the finger test. If I rub the skin near my closed hole, which I assure you remains shut during this procedure, and my finger doesn’t smell like shit, that’s probably good enough. I wipe my ass a final time with some more paper, then I stand up and return to my bedroom.
Alazne is kneeling on the bed as she holds her hands in front of her plain salmon-colored panties, which are the only clothes she’s wearing. Her messy bed hair makes her sexier, and in her tear drop breasts, the nipples are hard and pointing at me.
I stand there like an idiot for a moment, delighted by the delicious view, but Alazne pats the mattress next to her.
“Hey, lie down on your back,” she says in a low, alluring voice. “I need to tell you something.”
I nod as I walk over to the bed, lowering myself onto it, then I lie down on my back with my legs spread apart.
“What’s up?” I ask as I stroke her thigh with my closest hand.
Alazne leans towards my ear, but she stops midway and looks at me with a playful expression.
“Close your eyes.”
I obey her. When I let the back of my head sink into the pillow, I feel Alazne’s weight shifting in the mattress. She doesn’t tell me anything, though: the next thing I know, my boxers are bunched around my calves, and my soft cock is inside Alazne’s wet, warm mouth.
While her tongue curls around, my cock grows harder filling the available space, and my girlfriend lets out some appreciative moans. Alazne keeps sucking me off eagerly as she holds my thighs. My ass clenches while I experience one of the best feelings in the world.
I let out a long sigh, then I reach with my hand to run my fingers along her scalp, slowly and lovingly. Back when I inhabited a woman’s body, I wouldn’t have thought that pure bliss was my live-in girlfriend gorging herself on my dick first thing in the morning, but one lives to learn.

It soon became clear that we may both want to check stuff online, or just watch videos, as we lounged in different rooms of the house, so having to rely on the desktop computer was going to become annoying. I had forgotten where I left the laptop I found in the attic, and I suddenly walk into the living room only to find Alazne sitting next to the ouija board as Kateryna’s laptop is powering up.
I am shocked, although I don’t let it show. She’s going to see an account made for Kateryna.
“What are you doing?” I ask, hopefully sounding calm.
“Research,” Alazne says as she waits for the login screen to load. “There’s so much information out there if you look hard enough. A few groups about ghosts seem legit. I mean, it’s alright if I contribute our experience. Or is that an issue…?” she asks like she just considered that it should remain a secret.
“As long as you don’t post our address, I guess…”
I walk behind Alazne towards the opposite side of the ouija board. A sudden chill all over my body and a cobweb sensation on my face makes me realize I went through Kateryna. I wipe my face as if the contact had left some residue, although I know it hasn’t.
“Excuse me, Kateryna, for causing you an unpleasant sensation.” I want to bite my tongue, but I take a deep breath. “I mean, because you told me it was unpleasant.”
I need to get rid of the laptop before I ruin everything.
“Huh. Why is there an account for Kateryna?” Alazne asks, puzzled. “I-is this her laptop? Did they forget it here after she died?”
Shit. Alazne has turned towards me. I shrug, but as I open my mouth, we both notice the planchette hovering slightly above the center of the ouija board. Kat wants us to know she intends to speak.
I’m having a hard time hiding my relief. Kateryna is a true friend, the best I’ve ever had. She always has my back, she’s usually up for shooting the shit, and she finds this world as chaotic and meaningless as I do.
“Communicate how?” Alazne asks while she alternates between looking up at me and at the board. “Are you able to push the keys?”
I shake my head.
“My dumb idea. I had witnessed how great of a poltergeistmith our friend is, so I figured that she could learn to type in a keyboard as if she were alive. Stupid on my part, really. I don’t even remember the password to her account now.”
“Alright, that’s a shame,” Alazne says as she begins the process of creating her own user. “But we can speak to each other well enough through the ouija boards, right?”
I smile at her.
“Sure. That’s the main point, after all.”
“I’m glad we can stay in contact as much as we want.”
As my girlfriend is focused on typing in her chosen password for her new account, I turn my back on her and I facepalm silently. I dig with my fingers in my flesh for good measure. I hate it. Alazne does nothing but love me, and yet I keep lying and lying and lying. I’m no better than Asier. I’m no better than my biological mother. I’m no better than my father. I’m no better than any of the ghosts I’ve judged and condemned over the years. I’m terrible.
“I-I’ll buy a new laptop,” I say in a raspy voice, then I clear my throat. “One of us may want to bring it out to a coffee shop. I was planning on starting to write about my experiences, after all.”
Alazne realizes that I’m towering right behind her seated self, so she leans back and reaches with her hands to stroke my face.
“I suppose that laptops aren’t that expensive these days. And also… I’m so proud of you. I think you’d make a great writer.”
As I exhale deeply and close my eyes, I give into the pressure and embrace her warmly. I’ll just have to keep lying. It’s the devil’s game, but this is what happiness must feel like.

My Own Desert Places, Pt. 18 (GPT-3 fueled short)

I hold open the door of my stolen home, which is technically a haunted house, and Alazne steps into the foyer. She absentmindedly wipes the soles of her shoes on the doormat while eyeing her surroundings, including everything she can see from there of the living room, as if Kateryna’s ghost intended to ambush my girlfriend.
I put a hand on her shoulder and rub it. I feel her relaxing, but she can’t erase the worry in her eyes. She must be thinking that this plan to meet a ghost was a foolish idea.
“I assure you, Kateryna is as kind as they come,” I say with a reassuring tone, then turn my head towards the door to the hallway. “Hey, Kat, you likely already know Alazne arrived, but feel free to come!”
It feels chilly, but today’s weather is masking Kat’s presence. I hope that she won’t say high by displaying her poltergeist powers. One thing is accepting that you are standing in a haunted house, and another is for the primitive brain to integrate that you are witnessing a display that should be impossible.
“Alright, let me show you around what I hope will become your house,” I tell Alazne, and I kiss the top of her light brown hair.
My girlfriend nods. Her right hand seeks my left one, and she holds on to it tightly. Her face is paler than usual, which highlights her freckles, but she doesn’t seem too freaked out otherwise.
“I-is the presence of someone new not going to scare off Kateryna?” Alazne asks with a slight frown.
“Not if that person is alive,” I reply with confidence. “If anything, you’ll make her more comfortable.”
“Well… okay…”
I move my arm around Alazne’s waist and pull her closer to me. I show off my spacious living room, which is around three times as large as Alazne’s corresponding room back in her Belaskoenea apartment. The living room is divided between an area with a large dining table, where I set up the ouija board and the call bell for my daily séances with Kateryna, and another area with two expensive, three seater sofas with firmly stuffed cushions in front of a coffee table. Two bookshelves offer novels that came in a collection and that Asier likely didn’t read, and he filled most of the shelves with statuettes mainly of naked women, maybe honoring the Greek tradition, but probably because he loved naked women, which was part of why he cheated constantly.
There’s a flat screen mounted on the wall. It offers an exceptionally sharp image, although I only switch it on to entertain Kateryna, because televisions are tools of the government to brainwash the population. Two large windows give a nice view of the fenced backyard. I get reminded again that I may have to introduce myself to my neighbor and ask him if he can trim his plane tree, because it’s blocking some of the sunlight in the yard. We should take advantage of all the hours of full sunlight around these parts.
Alazne walks around the dining room table and towards one of the sofas as if she were admiring a display in a museum. She approaches one of the bookshelves and looks at the statuettes.
“Who’s this?” she asks, picking up the depiction of a muscled, armless man with a happy facial expression even though he’s lifting a giant rock.
What the fuck would I know? Shit, I’m the one who is supposed to have bought those statuettes!
“That’s the Thinker. He represents introspection.”
“Ah yes, he’s very cute. I like his dimples.”
Alazne looks at a few of the naked women, but thankfully she doesn’t force me to justify myself. She places the male statuette back on the shelf and returns to me while smiling warmly, which calms me down. I gesture towards the nearest sofa.
“Imagine all the times we are going to spend lying there under a blanket while watching shows on the enormous flat screen.”
Alazne briefly eyes the ouija board prominently displayed on the dining room table, but I have explained the situation.
“I can imagine us spending many happy afternoons with each other here,” she says as she squeezes my hand. “But don’t you think we should continue the tour? I want to see the bedroom.”
I swallow, and as if Alazne had reached for my girl cock, it grows a few centimeters. I turn towards the hall. From there we walk into the hallway that connects with the garage, the kitchen, a guest bedroom, a bathroom with a large bathtub, an office, and finally the master bedroom. After I point out the presence of the stairs to the second floor, Alazne says ‘wow’, but then pirouettes into the master bedroom. The bed sheets are freshly clean and they smell nice. I can’t take credit for that, because they were already washed when I found them in the dresser.
“Nice sheets,” Alazne says quietly in a slightly higher pitch, then she sits on the bed. “What kind are they?”
“I don’t know, they just had a tag that said Sp… Sp… something. Just brand new.”
“Sweet. And soft too.”
She looks behind her at the desk that holds my brand new gaming monitor, and then her gaze lingers on the exercise bench, the barbell set up with enough weights to pump up my pectoral muscles, and the variety of dumbbells lying nearby.
“Curious that you chose to exercise in your bedroom when you have empty rooms,” Alazne says in a lulling voice. “I mean, this room is large, but still…”
“That’s a good point. I guess I was used to it. I might end up moving it somewhere else.”
When Alazne looks forward again, she stares into her own hazel eyes reflected in the full-length mirror that covers the wall next to that side of the bed. Asier installed it surely to watch himself fucking Ainhoa and Kateryna, particularly our Ukrainian goddess I’m guessing, as well as the other women he sneaked in here to cheat on his wonderful fiancées. I have mostly used the mirror to habituate myself to the faces this man-body makes when I’m orgasming, and to an extent I wish I hadn’t, because men look like idiots while they are shooting their spunk.
When I look back down to Alazne’s glistening eyes and her grateful expression, a sharp pain squeezes my heart. Every step of the way I have to remain on guard, because I never know when I’ll be prompted to spout wild lies. I can’t risk losing her, not the love of my life. I have been alone and miserable for so long, and I never want to be alone ever again.
Alazne sighs and takes off her sport shoes. She’s wearing her knee-high pink socks with cartoon cat faces, which in my mind they have turned into code for ‘tonight I want to submit fully to you’. My breath thickens, and my cock starts bending against the crotch of my jeans. I should have worn looser clothing today.
I clear my throat.
“You haven’t seen the second floor, although it’s mainly more of the same. Two of the rooms are bare, ready for whatever comes. The balcony is nice, I have been sitting on the chairs there to read or just to relax. Beautiful view of the countryside.”
“I didn’t know you like to read,” Alazne says while she stares up at me hungrily, and shifts her knees apart.
“I used to read quite a bit when I wasn’t…”
When I wasn’t wearing a man’s body, for starters. And when I wasn’t chasing girls. I used to either spend my time alone with my hobbies, or focusing on my main hobby, which was to fuck as many girls as I found attractive. I particularly enjoyed those who presented a challenge, for example those who didn’t see themselves scissoring with another girl. Many of those conquests ended up loving the taste of pussy juices.
I step closer to Alazne. The bulge in my pants can’t be concealed anymore, but my girlfriend must have grown used to it.
I reach down to cup her cheeks, and Alazne wraps her arms around my thighs. She’s breathing harder, her lips are getting wetter.
“I know my house is not a villa on a hill, but…” I say calmly.
“I don’t want to talk about the house now,” Alazne says in a raspy voice. “Give it to me.”
She grabs my shirt and pulls me into her. She falls back onto the sheets, and I end up supporting myself on my hands, planted in the mattress to the sides of Alazne’s shoulders. Fuck, I love how aggressive she has gotten. Although sometimes, like today, I’d prefer her to plead. I lower my face to devour her mouth. Alazne lets out a contented moan, and wiggles her ass while pushing herself up with her heels so she’ll lie further back on the bed.
She quickly unbuckles my belt and unzips my jeans. I pull them down enough with my hand so my cock has some breathing room, while Alazne takes off her trousers. I fall upon her body and grind my hips against her. I can feel her wetness through my boxers and her panties.
“Oh, God! Fuck!” she lets out in between kisses as I move down to her neck, sucking on the skin there.
I sit back up to slide off my jeans and then lower my boxers. I pull down Alazne’s red with black lace panties. As I fall back down onto her, she wraps her legs around my waist and her arms around my shoulders. She has turned her head towards the full size mirror, and she’s smiling like drugged at her reflection while drool trickles onto the sheet. Her eyes are glazed over, her cheeks an adorable fiery red. I embrace her thighs with my forearms so that my hands cradle her ass. Our eyes meet in the mirror, and she bites her lip as I penetrate into her. The thought of putting on a condom briefly flashes through my mind as the butter-smooth walls of her vagina squeeze my girl cock, but by this point of our relationship we have both become irresponsible enough in our horniness, and my pull out game has improved so much, that I figure that I’ll manage to cum on her pubes so it ends up looking like a cute snow-covered forest. And if I fuck it up and fill her womb with my seed, we’ll have a baby and that’s that. College isn’t particularly expensive in these parts.
Alazne holds on to my arms so tightly that her bitten fingernails bite through my shirt, and her knuckles go white. She must have loved this house I stole. I continue to watch us fuck in the full body mirror until my vision blurs and Alazne’s carefree moans fill the room. Her eyes roll back, and after a guttural sigh, she may have passed out, because she goes limp. I pull my cock out and come all over her bellybutton.
Suddenly exhausted, I roll onto the mattress to lie next to my woman. I embrace her body from the side, and some of the cum that remained inside my dick gets smeared on her thigh.
Shortly after, Alazne’s eyes flutter open and she looks back at me in the mirror. She licks her lips.
“I really liked that.”
“Me too,” I answer, still catching my breath. “You didn’t come, though.”
“I didn’t, huh? Everything went white, and for a moment it felt as if I just came out of an operation, completely free of anxiety. So great…”
I kiss her cheek, and she reaches with her opposite arm to rub my shoulder affectionately.
“We christened this bed quick,” I say.
Alazne stares at the ceiling while a smile remains pasted on her lips. She lets out a long sigh.
“It’s all so amazing, Asier. The thought of living here… It’s like most of the problems in my life would vanish.”
“Yes, I guess that beyond the shit that goes on in our brains, most everything else is about money.”
When I regain my strength, I fetch a towel from the closet and hand it to Alazne. She wipes off her belly. A bit of cum ends up on the tip of her thumb, but she licks it.
“I guess it’s pretty normal to feel this way about a house,” she says, then turns her head towards me. “When I was about five, my family bought a new house, and I’d run back and forth from the living room to the kitchen, feeling like I’d finally found all the happiness in the world.”
As I stand next to the bed, I’m shocked that Alazne has shared a detail, let alone a fond one, from back when her parents were alive. I keep quiet and merely hold her gaze with what I hope is an understanding expression.
That memory involving her parents must have escaped her mouth because fucking has relaxed her that much, but her face darkens as she’s likely forced to face again that she lost her parents way before she could have dealt with that pain. I want to embrace her and say some corny shit like ‘you didn’t lose your parents, you are keeping them alive right here’ as I tap her head, but I wouldn’t want to see how my girlfriend reacted to that.
Alazne rubs her eyes as her head sinks in the pillow, and then she manages to smile.
“What I wanted to say is that this house of yours is much bigger still. It’s so strange for me to enter a brand new place and feel this comfortable and safe.”
“I’m glad that it’s working out for you.” I bite my lip. “What maybe I should have said before I shoved my cock inside you is that the resident ghost, our Kateryna, likely witnessed our frantic lovemaking. Just so… you know.”
A sudden unease distorts her expression, but after she blinks, she smirks defiantly.
“So I’m not going crazy, because I’m pretty sure I saw her. She was right there in the living room, sitting on the rocking chair.”
“Nope, Kateryna doesn’t have the power to manifest herself, and neither do I have a rocking chair.”
“Is this going to be one of those cases in which a house is super haunted, but when a guest comes over, the ghosts hide like anxious cats?”
“Well, Kateryna, she’s a proud woman. She doesn’t want to intrude on our lives, particularly when we are so eager to tear our clothes off. But did you expect to enter the house only for a bunch of knives to launch themselves at you?”
Alazne shrugs.
“It’s not that I don’t believe in ghosts, it’s just that I have never seen one. But I had thought–“
My girlfriend shuts up at the same time a cold bubble of air makes the hair on my arms stand up. Alazne’s face has gone white, and as she rests the weight of her upper body on her elbows, she’s staring wide-eyed at something in the corner of the room where I set up my exercise bench. I spot it immediately: a dumbbell is hovering while quivering, as if the invisible hand that’s holding it is getting tired of the weight.
“Hey, Kat,” I say casually. “Maybe some exercise will do you good.”
The dumbbell drops noisily on the carpet. I’m tempted to reprimand Kateryna, because that may have dented the floor. I sigh.
“Alright, it’s about time I introduce the two of you properly.”

Alazne and I, and judging by the increased chill around the table, Kateryna as well, gathered in front of the kitchen table. To set the right mood for a séance, I closed the curtains to darken the room, and I lit two candles that bathed the ouija board in a yellowish, trembling light. Completely pointless, but it looks cool. I pulled a chair so I could sit next to my beloved, while she occupies the commanding seat in front of the board. The planchette remains still in the center, but it won’t be for long.
Back when Kateryna dropped the dumbbell, for a second I expected Alazne to spring to her feet and sprint out of my house while screaming and tearing out her hair, but she was excited. Not sexually, but still. I could tell that the presence of a real ghost fascinated her, and from then on Alazne looked wired and eager. I was nervous, though, for a different reason: Kateryna knew who I truly was, and I had no clue what was going to come out through the planchette’s movements.
I put my hand on Alazne’s shoulder, and she stiffens.
“C’mon, you can talk to Kateryna. She will likely not use her poltergeist powers to bite you.”
“A-alright… H-hi, lady ghost. I’m Alazne. I’m sure you already know that I’m Asier’s girlfriend, and from now on I think I will spend plenty of time in this house. I-I hope you won’t mind. Nice to meet you!”
The planchette twitches. I feel a chill going down my spine. The air is tense as fuck. As if its movements were automated, the planchette is quick to spell out HA HA HA.
Alazne’s eyes widen with shock.
“W-what?” she asks in a high-pitched voice.
I shift my weight in the chair. Now I suddenly fear that my roommate is going to embarrass me.
“What the hell do you mean with ‘ha ha ha’, Kat?” I ask.
Alazne gasps, but more towards how much the planchette is moving by itself than to the potentially horrifying meaning of the message. I can tell she doesn’t buy it. But now I’m the one who is scared, because Kateryna referred to me as a she! Damn it, Kateryna! Don’t screw up immediately!
“T-that was a joke, I see…!” Alazne says. “I can tell you are intelligent, and that you are actually here…”
NO IM ACTUALLY SATAN, the planchette spells out.
I frown. I want to get up and throw the planchette on the floor.
“Yes, very funny, Kateryna.”
“Yeah, you and everyone else.”
I sigh in an exaggerated way.
“See, Alazne, Kat tends to joke around when she’s nervous. And she’s meeting you, someone she has heard me talk about for hours. So naturally she wants to make a good impression. Isn’t that right, Kat…?”
The planchette glides over to the printed YES near one corner of the board. It seems she won’t continue with her path of terror.
“So… do you want to try asking questions?” I ask Alazne, who remains jittery.
“Y-yeah, of course.”
“Alright, but let me get you something to drink while you talk to Kateryna,” I say as I stand up. “I think I have Coca-Cola and orange Kas if you want some carbonated garbage, but I’ve been partial to grape juice recently. There’s also bottled water.”
“Uh, I’ll have what you’re having.”
I wasn’t having anything, but I shrug and go to the fridge to take the carton of grape juice. I grab two glasses.
“So… d-did you witness us… having sex?” Alazne asks shily.
When I walk back to the table and set our glasses on it, the planchette was returning to the center.
“What did she say?” I ask.
Alazne takes a big gulp of her juice, and then licks her delicious, now extra sweet, lips as she calms down.
“The gho–… Kateryna said that she did and that she enjoyed it.”
AS I SAID I MISS SEX, the planchette spells out.
“Well, I’m glad we could entertain you,” I say, and take a drink. “We will put on a show for you most days from now on, I’m sure.”
“I feel like a bit of an ass for the lot of questions I want to ask,” Alazne says, “but I really want to know what’s up with you, Kateryna.”
“It’s alright. I’m sure she appreciates you caring enough to ask her directly.”
I nearly choke on my grape juice, and I hunch as I pound softly on my chest. The pain in my battered ribs from the accident is mostly a memory now, particularly due to the daily dose of painkillers. Still, I don’t want to worsen whatever remains to heal in there. I should probably take better care of this body, but I kind of hate it, too.
Alazne chuckles.
“So Asier masturbates quite a bit, huh?” she asks to the invisible presence.
I’m beet red.
“Somehow this all sounds worse when you say it, Kat,” I say in a low voice.
Alazne laughs and reaches out for my hand to hold it. She shakes it playfully.
“Aww, I do appreciate it!” she says, beaming.
I clear my throat, then point down at Alazne’s shirt.
“By the way, Kat, what do you think about her choice of attire?”
Alazne looks down at her tee shirt as if she had forgotten she was wearing it.
The planchette spells out WISH I COULD BECOME MONKE.
Both Alazne and I laugh for a few seconds.
“I bet!” I say.
THIS BOAT IS MOVING TOO SLOW, the planchette spells out.
“Alright, I’m going to ask you some serious questions now,” Alazne says, already used to talking to a ghost. “How did you end up in this house?”
I freeze. I feel close to a catastrophe. What would happen if Alazne found out that Kateryna was another one of this body’s ex-fiancées, and that most likely died in this house? I can’t imagine how my girlfriend would react.
LIVED HERE BEFORE ASIER CAME, the planchette spells out.
My vision gets blurry for a moment, as tears of relief and gratitude come to my eyes. I blink them away, hopefully before Alazne saw them.
“Kateryna…!” I blurt out.
Alazne twists her mouth as if brooding, while she fidgets with her glass of grape juice.
“Ah… K-Kateryna, did you die in this house?”
I feel a cold sweat.
I DID YES, the planchette spells out.
My heart beats rapidly.
“W-was it… an accident?”
“K-killed…?” Alazne repeats in a hollow voice. “As in someone killed you, or as in you killed yourself?”
The planchette remains still for a few seconds, and then slides quickly with the proficiency of a veteran typist.
“Jesus Christ,” I mutter as I wipe some sweat off my forehead.
IT WAS VERY UNSATISFYING, the planchette adds.
Alazne looks at me, worried. I have no words of comfort to offer her; I’m too busy dealing with my own nervousness. A range of emotions is clawing at me, but most of all I feel a lot of guilt. I’m so glad that Kateryna lied about her relationship with Asier. If a woman died in my house while I lived in here, it likely means that I was somehow responsible. I’m surprised that the police haven’t visited me since I possessed this body.
Alazne seems troubled. Her eyes dart around as if she’s trying to figure out something important.
“Kateryna, are you alright in the afterlife? I mean, do you feel well?”
“I-is there no sun in the afterlife?”
Oh no, Kateryna is losing it. I get the mental image of a particularly drunk, and hot, woman who is making a scene in a party, except that I can’t physically drag Kateryna out until she sobers up. And taking away her planchette, her only means of communicating properly, feels too cruel.
“Kateryna implies that everything is faded, washed out, in the afterlife,” I say gravely. “Close to odorless, tasteless… She has spoken about this before.”
Alazne stares with a determined look at the planchette.
“Does anything give you joy?”
The planchette spells out NOTHING. After a brief pause, the planchette moves again: DISTRACTIONS.
“What sort of distractions?”
The planchette is motionless. I can tell that both Alazne and I are holding our breath while the flames of the candles waver, and the atmosphere feels darker and darker. This is like a legitimate séance. I’m getting why those ghost hunting shows on YouTube are so popular.
“L-let me change the angle…” Alazne says as she shifts her weight. “Asier told me that it seems to be true that spirits remain in the afterlife, at least in the lower level you are in, because they regret something about their previous lives. In that case maybe we could help you, to free you from that nightmare.”
CANT MOVE ON ITS NOT POSSIBLE FOR ME, the planchette spells out without hesitation.
“That would be far too cruel, to throw you into that grey world without any way to escape it.”
“Alazne, maybe the afterlife just is. I mean that you can’t expect fairness of a volcano if you jump into it.”
Alazne squints one eye at me as if she didn’t quite catch the analogy.
TO SOLVE REGRET WOULD NEED TO BE ALIVE, the planchette spells out.
“C-can a living person do whatever you need performed for you?” Alazne asks, eager to please.
When the planchette returns to the center, it trembles for a moment until it remains inert, as if the fingers that had been touching it were lifted.
I lean forward towards the ouija board, and rest an elbow on the table.
“Kateryna, you never clarified those words for me. The first day we spoke to each other you told me that, ‘no child’. Do you mean that you wanted to have a baby before you died, and now you obviously can’t get pregnant?”
The planchette slips suddenly towards the edge of the table as if Kateryna had applied her power incorrectly, but after the planchette returns to the center, it spells out WANT TO LIVE AGAIN IRENE I AM PAINED DONT WANT TO SPEAK MORE.
A wave of nausea comes over me, and I have to restrain myself from slapping the ouija board away. I stand up forcefully, making a scratching noise against the floor with my chair.
“Ghosts have feelings too, and I think we have prodded Kateryna too much for this session.”
Alazne looks up at me confused.
“Irene, she said. It seemed incongruous in the middle of those sentences. Was it someone she knew from when she was alive…?”
“Let’s… Let’s just take a break,” I say with a hint of desperation.
Alazne nods. She gets up. She’s troubled by the experience, but as if she listened to someone’s terrible experience instead of because she has undeniable proof that ghosts exist. My girlfriend keeps quiet for a few seconds, but then she holds her hands in front of her waist and bows slightly towards an invisible presence.
“T-thank you so much for speaking with me, Kateryna. I hope we get to talk again soon. If you think of some way I could make your existence easier, don’t hesitate to let me know.”

When Alazne and I decided to figure out how we were going to fill our bellies tonight, she was very impressed not only with the size of the kitchen and the amount of groceries I had stocked, but also with the island this kitchen came furnished with. By island I mean a free-standing counter space in the center of the room, which in my eyes is as good a symbol as any to distinguish the peasants from the rich people like me. I have an island in my kitchen, and everyone else can eat their muck out of a mug.
I grabbed two packages of instant ramen and showed them to Alazne, who was sitting on a stool while leaning on the free-standing counter.
“I figure that someone so obsessed with anime, manga and the likes will appreciate some ramen,” I say.
“I do, if only because it reminds me of all those joyful times. So…” Alazne fidgets with the apples in a bowl. “Do you just have to put it in the microwave?”
I open one of the packets of ramen and extract the noodle cube, which looks like it was compacted in some industrial machine.
“We need to boil water,” I say as I reach for a hanging pot. “We also need to gather all the associated food and condiments. So a couple of eggs, bacon, salt, black pepper… Butter as well. Do you want to help?”
Alazne gets up from her stool.
“Sure. I must say that this looks more like a chef’s kitchen.”
“The owner is nowhere close to a chef, though.”
She walks over to the fridge while shooting me an apologetic look. She opens the fridge and gets the packet of bacon.
“Y-you will be so disappointed by how little I know how to do.”
I start heating the water on the stove.
“You are the one who is perennially disappointed in yourself, Alazne. I have nothing but love for you. And the more you learn how to do, the more confident you will become.”
Alazne sighs as she places the bacon on the counter.
“I-I can try cooking this. Hopefully the house also came with fire extinguishers. Where are the pans, though…?”
I nod towards a hanging cupboard over the main counter. I was walking to the spice rack to get the black pepper when I notice that Alazne is on her tiptoes to reach the pile of pans inside the cupboard.
“Now I really feel small…!” she complains.
“Yeah, I should reorganize the kitchen having you in mind. This body of mine is taller than average, after all.”
I slide out the bottle of black pepper from its rack, and I turn to help Alazne when I see that the pan on top of the pile is lifting, and then floats carefully out of the cupboard until it lands with the gentleness of a feather in the hands of my baffled Alazne.
“T-thank you, Kateryna,” Alazne says, then smiles.

Both of us have mostly digested the surprisingly delicious bacon and egg ramen, which by the way I had only prepared once before and with the purpose of impressing Alazne when she came over. It’s nine and a half at night, dark outside as well as drizzling. The crickets are chirping in the nearby countryside. I convinced Alazne to join me in the main bathroom and take a bath with me.
I’m all about the mood today, so I have brought over a few candles from the living room and have set them on a shelving unit at the end of the bathtub. The tub is already full with around 40 degrees Celsius hot water, waiting for us. As the flames flicker, I switch off the electric lights and I walk up to my Alazne, who is standing there blushing and offering me an eager smile. I grab the hem of her shirt, and she raises her arms to help me take it off. She’s wearing an ultra thin, red and black lace bra that she bought recently, if I can say that she bought it when I paid for it. I bite my lower lip as I admire the curves of her C cups. The candlelight makes her pale, freckled skin seem smoother and her light brown hair shinier. I lose myself staring at Alazne’s body for a moment, but then she grabs my shirt and pulls me into a kiss. As we taste a hint of ramen in each other’s saliva, I undress hastily, my eyes never leaving hers. When we pull away, I take off my boxers and leave them on the porcelain tiles, and Alazne does the same with her lace panties. I’m already at half mast.
“I’m going to love this so much,” I say hungrily.
Alazne giggles excitedly as she submerges into the warm water. She lets out a long, moan-like sigh as she rests the back of her head.
I crouch to get the bottle of silicon-based lube out of the cupboard. I place it on the edge of the bathtub, where I will be able to reach it as I soak in the warm bath. Alazne has closed her eyes, but even if she hadn’t, I doubt she would have noticed what I brought. Much better, because I’ll get to surprise her.
The bathtub is spacious, so we have enough room to move about. I ask Alazne to scoot so I can get into the water behind her, and when my legs rub against hers in the bath, my girlfriend wiggles her ass back until it presses against my crotch, then she leans against my chest. She sighs contently as I wrap my arms around her torso, resting her breasts on my right forearm. I feel so snuggly that I want to cry. We stay in silence for a couple of minutes, just taking in the warmth of each other’s body heat.
“From now on, every night should end with us soaking in a hot bath,” I say.
“Maybe it would be better if we didn’t do it so often, because if this becomes a routine, it will lose its charm.”
“You’re right. We’ll do this every other night. The water bill might make me cry, though… But then again, I’m rich.”
Alazne giggles, and reaches with her soaked hand to stroke my cheek. We kiss on the lips.
“I used to have baths when I was little,” Alazne says in a low, sad voice. “Mom would bathe me before bedtime. She would wash my hair and scrub my skin red, and then she would hold me so tightly that I couldn’t move. I think I felt safe.”
I hold her tighter in response.
“She… wasn’t right in the head,” Alazne continues, almost whispering. “Even back then I knew there wasn’t much to be done, because that’s how she was. But when I turned five and we moved, everything got worse. She would grab my arms and legs and toss me around, or sometimes she would put her hands over my mouth so I couldn’t breathe.”
I hadn’t expected our bath to turn this way, and I’m disturbed by her memories. I rub Alazne’s arms to assure her that I’m here for her.
“I hated… her so much…” Alazne adds in a hollow voice. “I had nothing but resentment. I was forced to endure this meaningless life because my dumb parents wanted to have a kid, but they didn’t have the mental tools to raise one properly.”
“It’s alright, they’re not here anymore. They can’t hurt you.”
I hope those empty words I stole from several sources help her a little bit, because I can’t think of anything better to say.
“No, they’re not here anymore… but you are,” Alazne says.
She turns her head towards me and kisses me on the jaw. I must look distraught, because Alazne is quick to apologize.
“I-I didn’t want to sour this beautiful moment…! It just came out. I’m sorry.”
I fold my arms across her breasts. I feel her nipples hardening against my forearms.
“Don’t apologize for opening up, sweetie,” I say in what I hope is a soothing voice. “You told me about your mother because you feel safe, and you indeed are. Everything you want to tell me, I want to hear.”
Alazne nods. She relaxes again, putting her weight on me.
“Sometimes I just felt… unreal. Like this life couldn’t possibly be my own. I couldn’t affect anything, no matter how hard I tried.”
I want to chuckle bitterly. I have twenty years of experience with that. At least back when I inhabited my original body, no matter how terrible I thought my life had become at the end, I didn’t feel like a living ghost. Alazne has been forcefully practicing for an eternity in the afterlife.
“Back when I was twelve, I went outside in the middle of a storm at night, hoping that maybe Mother Nature herself would take me away,” Alazne says. “That was my first attempt. A half-assed one, but still.”
“That… was before your parents’ accident, right?” I ask softly.
Alazne stays silent for a few seconds. Her chest raises and falls against my arms.
“Yes. The night they died was the first time I really tried to kill myself. I had been thinking about it for years, you know.”
“What did you do?”
“I took all the pills I could find in the medicine cabinet and my mother’s handbag. I remember standing at the foot of my bed, staring at them while I counted.”
“How many were there?”
As Alazne says this, she tenses her body. Maybe she’s remembering the moment she took them.
“I then walked into the bathroom, turned on the shower, and started vomiting.”
“You threw up, huh?”
“Yes. So it didn’t work. Thing is, until that night I had wished for my parents to disappear. I thought I would finally get to be happy if I lived alone. But for that I would have needed a new brain. I guess that serves me right.”
“How did you adjust to your parents’ death?”
“The next night I went to a nearby bridge and jumped off it. I broke both my legs, one in three places and the other in two. After that, they sent me to a mental institution. They wanted to give me medication. I didn’t let them.”
“I had… no clue about any of this,” I say in a shaky voice.
Alazne chuckles softly.
“Yeah, that was a lie, the jumping off a bridge thing and getting sent to a mental institution. Sorry… I thought it was getting too serious.”
“Don’t worry about it,” I say, even though I’m still feeling a little strange.
“I didn’t try to kill myself again until shortly before the fated day when we met each other,” Alazne says in a brighter voice. “Not because I didn’t want to, it’s just that I felt I could simply go with the flow. Life was shit for me, and there was nothing I could do. My lot in life and all that. And I had so many shows to follow, mangas to read… So I found some joy along the way, whatever could get me to forget myself. But I truly wished to die. You only got to meet me because I’m a coward. If I had any guts, years ago I would have been consequent with my desires.”
Alazne takes my hand and entwines her fingers with mine.
“You know, you are the only person with whom I have ever felt comfortable,” she says warmly. “The only one who’s given me hope. Since you first kissed me in front of that car depot, I’ve only wished to be yours for the rest of my life.”
My heartbeat quickens.
“Do you wish to spend the rest of your life with me?” she asks me.
“Yeah. This life of mine is all yours. And if we get to meet in the afterlife, whatever passes for my existence there will be yours too.”
“Good,” Alazne says, then sniffles. “Let’s live together, please.”
“You liked the house so much, huh?” I ask, still troubled.
“The house and how your big body feels against my bare skin, particularly your penis, even though it hasn’t been hard since I ruined the mood by bringing up sad memories.”
“I’m sure I will get hard again in no time. But I’m so glad you warmed up quickly to living with me. I want to wake up every morning looking at your angelic face.”
“Warm up? I don’t even want to return home!”
“Alright, then I’ll start figuring out how to bring your stuff over here. Won’t you miss living in Irún, though?”
Alazne snorts.
“Hell no! Fuck that dreary shithole.”
We laugh together. After we calm down, I move away the wet locks of hair that were blocking access to Alazne’s appetizing neck, and I kiss it from her clavicle to her ear. She reaches over her shoulder to run her fingers through my hair, and gazes into my eyes. She had opened her mouth to speak, but I was aching to bring the topic of Kateryna up.
“So it doesn’t worry you that a ghost is genuinely living in my house, that she will be our roommate?”
“Well, I believe she won’t hurt us, so no. And she actually succeeded at killing herself.”
“Yeah,” I mutter while my throat tightens. I don’t like that Alazne sounded proud of that fact.
“Kateryna will continue haunting the house forever or whatever it is ghosts do. I feel… a kinship with her.”
“I’m happy to hear you say that. I’m sure you both will become friends. You know, she’s likely listening to every word we are saying right now. She may be standing a couple of meters away from us right now and we wouldn’t notice, distracted as we are.”
“That’s fine, she already watched us fuck, after all. It’s kind of exciting. I’ve always been into weird stuff. And Kateryna needs distractions like those, she said so. It’s like she lives in a manifestation of depression, that whole afterlife she’s stuck in. I want to help her. At least make sure she has as easy a time as possible.”
My mind goes blank for a bit. I recall all those times as a ghost I tried to befriend other lost souls, only for them to tell me to fuck off or even try to call the ghost police. My time on that hopeless plane would have changed so much if Alazne would have understood I lived in, or I guess haunted, her apartment in Belaskoenea. I have no clue how I would have made her notice me when I only have the power to possess people, but my daydream doesn’t care. I doubt I would have dared possessing Asier’s dying body if Alazne, or any ghost for that matter, had been nice to me after Iñaki disappeared.
I switch back to reality because Alazne is slowly grinding her ass against my growing cock.
“There it is…” she says seductively.
I reply by kissing and biting her neck as I fondle her right breast and play with her hard nipple. With my left hand I reach for the lube.
“You just reminded me… that I had planned to take care of you during our bath.”
“Is that so? Then who am I to say no?”
Her mouth curls up in a smile as she looks longingly into my eyes, then she closes hers. She bends my rock-hard girl cock with her ass, which makes me shiver. I squirt a glob of lube on my left hand. I pass it to my right fingers, and I submerge them in the warm water so I can rub Alazne’s labia. She yelps in delight while squirming suddenly, which causes hot water to splash on the bathtub’s side and fall to the floor in a short-lived waterfall. Alazne then thrusts her hips gently in rhythm with my fingers. I focus on caressing her clit while I suck on her earlobe.
“Ahh… Fuck me…” Alazne says, her voice trembling.
She rests the back of her head against my shoulder and exhales through her mouth as I concentrate on slowly bringing her to a climax. I hook my fingers inside her, which allows me to feel her pussy pulsating around them, and slowly slide my fingers out, dragging along her soft, tender skin. I return to her clit. I would prefer that my tongue was tracing little circles around it, but I’m sure I’ll be eating her out in bed if not tonight, before tomorrow is done.
As Alazne orgasms, she breathes deeply while holding my arm, her nails digging into my skin. The hot water mixed with our sweat has created a thin mist that floats around us as we embrace each other.
“I am going… to have… such a good time here…” Alazne says in a faltering voice, out of breath.
“Oh, Alazne. Now that I’ll have you right where I want you, I will hunt you down relentlessly,” I say while caressing her belly.
Alazne closes her eyes and leans her whole body against me.
“Yes, please. Tear me apart.”

My Own Desert Places, Pt. 17 (GPT-3 fueled short)

Alazne’s warmth and mine have homogenized in the pitch black of her bedroom. After eleven at night or so, we’ve taken the habit of closing the window blinds to submerge ourselves in such a darkness that our lovemaking will be reduced to the sensations of taste, smell, touch, pressure, vibration, temperature and pain. We both last orgasmed around fifteen minutes ago, and since then we have held each other’s naked body and breathed on each other’s skin. I’m slowly kneading Alazne’s ass cheeks with both hands as I caress her neck with my lips. She keeps stirring and letting out almost indiscernible, high-pitched vocalizations that make her sound feral. Meanwhile she smears slowly the still wet juices caught in her pubes against my lower abdomen. Her pussy emanates such warmth that it hits my genitals as if she were exhaling on them.
Beyond the act of sex itself, I have never known such bliss as holding Alazne like this while knowing that the love of my life feels calm, satisfied and safe. In a way, I adore such moments even more than fucking. Ever since I first came across Alazne, I had wanted nothing more than to purge the sadness that was rotting her insides, and now I get to hope that one day she’ll be free of her pain.
My face is buried deep in Alazne’s neck, and her breasts are squished against my chest. Every breath of hers tickles my skin. Her hands have been gripping the back of my shoulders as if she doesn’t want to let go, and her bitten nails are pressing into my trapezius muscles.
I slide my hands up to massage her back, and when I lower them again to knead her ass cheeks, I feel Alazne tensing up as if she’s getting wetter. But she leans closer to my ear and opens her mouth noisily.
“What are you thinking about, my love?” she whispers.
“You, of course.” My voice sounds monotonous because I’m trying to keep it from breaking into a yawn. “Just how much I love you and how lucky I am.”
“You’re lucky?” she chuckles, and clutches me tighter. “What about me, huh? I’m the one dating someone who puts so much effort into taking care of me, and who insists on paying for everything.”
“It’s all so we can lie in bed like this, feeling your naked body against mine, and getting to fondle that sweet ass of yours.”
I press my groin into Alazne’s thigh, and her warm liquids moisten my crotch. Alazne shivers, but then lets out a soft chuckle.
“We are both such horny bastards,” she says with a playful sigh. “I already was before you met me. I mostly masturbated so much because while I was aroused I didn’t feel despair. And it’s cheaper than drugs, I guess.”
“But you don’t masturbate anymore, because you got me.”
Alazne giggles, then licks my earlobe. The sound of her deep breath right into my ear canal makes my dick throb.
“No, I still masturbate when you aren’t here. And I come harder because I keep replaying in my mind what we do to each other.”
“That’s not fair. I have stopped masturbating so I wouldn’t waste my sexual energies! Alright, take this then.”
I find Alazne’s labia with my hand and rub my fingers up and down it to tease her. She shudders, then bites my shoulder to stop herself from moaning too loud.
“You’re so fucking cruel,” she whispers, but lifts her hips to get more of my fingers inside her. “Are you trying to make me cum?”
“Of course I am.”
I insert another finger, and start finger-banging her. Her fluids are trickling down my wrist.
“You’re so wet already,” I whisper in her ear. “Are you going to cum for me, my sweet girl?”
“Mmh, you know I will,” she says in a low grunt.
I thrust my fingers quicker and she buries her teeth into my shoulder to muffle her ecstasy. The sharp pain of those teeth about to break through my skin only make me harder.
“Don’t worry,” I say while stroking her hair. “You can bite me all you want.”
With a series of moans, it only takes Alazne around a minute and a half to climax, spraying my hand and part of my belly with her pussy juices. After Alazne’s breath stabilizes and her body goes limp against me, I pull my hand out and wipe it on the bed sheet.
“You’re so bad,” Alazne says in a raspy voice.
She has lifted her head slightly, and even in the dark I can tell she’s trying to stare at me. I know that her pupils must be dilated, and that her light brown hair is sweaty and disheveled. She never looks so beautiful as in these moments, except when she plays the guitar.
“You’re going to kiss me, aren’t you?” I ask.
“Of course I am.”
I feel her lips on mine, like the touch of a feather. Gentle and fragile. My heart aches.
“You gave me a new feeling,” Alazne whispers. “When we lie in bed like this, I don’t doubt, I don’t suffer. My anxiety is gone. Every other passing moment of my life is spent in pondering and fearing everything as if I had to escape from a hole quickly filling with water. But now I’m free, soaring the sky beyond the walls.”
I swallow. I don’t want to let her know how close I came to crying.
“You’re so poetic. It would have been more effective if you hadn’t sneaked an ‘Attack on Titan’ reference in there.”
Alazne giggles, but then she rests her head on my chest and we do nothing but breathe for some seconds.
“What if this is a dream?” she asks, barely audible. “What if I wake up from it and I’m still locked in my pitch-black room, but alone?”
“What if everything is a dream, or some VR shit that feeds us fake sensations?”
“I don’t know if that would be good or bad. Would we keep holding each other like this if that were the case?”
“Probably. We wouldn’t be the ones to realize that we are in a fake world.”
“Whether it’s real or not I guess it doesn’t make a difference.”
I kiss the top of her head, and she snuggles even closer against me. Our bodies have merged. We are in perfect accord, just like two wheels connected by a single axle. I’m scared. Scared that something is going to come in and yank her away from me.
“Hmm… I don’t want to be anywhere else than in this bed,” Alazne mumbles placidly.
“That does segue awkwardly into the plan I was going to offer you for tomorrow. See, I want you to come over to my house so you can enjoy a bigger living environment, and also because I can’t wait to fuck you in my own bed.”
Alazne lets out a gasp of surprise and delight, and she squeezes my shoulders tighter.
“I said ‘this bed’, but I’m sure your own bed will work just fine. So you just want me to come over so you can get inside me, huh…?”
“That’s one reason, but also because there’s more space and privacy.”
“Fine, I’ll come over, spend the night and all that,” Alazne says as her heart beats louder.
“I know you’re going to love it, but… Well, there are some things about my house you should know.”
As I’m trying to find the words, Alazne speaks up.
“I-I have been replaying our encounter with your ex-fiancée, and as much as I can remember of her words. I know, I know, but I can’t help it. Among the confusing things she suggested, it seems your house has a… bug infestation?”
I chuckle nervously.
“No bugs, that’s just Ainhoa refusing to face reality. Ah… I doubt you would have ever anticipated the words about to come out of my mouth, but… my house is haunted. I’m a hundred percent honest. I seriously have a fucking ghost roommate.”
Alazne lifts her head and exhales in surprise. I wait a few seconds for her to say anything, but she doesn’t.
“She won’t bother you,” I say with little confidence. “She doesn’t hate you and her name is Kateryna, not that it matters right now.”
“Okay, I can tell you are serious,” Alazne says with a nervous laugh. “What else? I-I mean… You seemed curiously interested and knowledgeable about ghost stuff before, but I wouldn’t have thought… Tell me, does this ghost appear to you? Is she a shadow person?”
“Uh… No. She’s not a shadow person. She doesn’t have the power to manifest herself on this plane.”
Neither did I. Back when I was a ghost, I could only possess people, a niche ability that made me feel I was the bottom rung of the ghost pecking order. However, these days I feel like the queen.
“I-is she hostile?”
“No, not at all.” I think back at the first time I met Kateryna, and how she purposefully targeted my testicles. “W-well, she can be, I guess. She produces poltergeists, and very effortlessly. If she’s pissed, I’m sure she can stick a knife in anyone’s head. Not that she will do that to you.”
“Are there others like her?”
“None that I know of. I haven’t seen any proof of other ghosts in my house.”
Kateryna is one of a kind, and that’s why I cherish her.
I feel Alazne nodding slowly against my chest as if digesting the information.
“Listen, her poltergeist powers allow her to communicate easily through the ouija boards,” I say to reassure her. “And she’s very eager to talk, because the afterlife is boring. I guess. So tomorrow you’ll get to speak to each other for sure.”
“S-so you can talk to her?”
I snort.
“It’s hard to get her to stop using the ouija board. We have conversations daily.”
“I-is it just her, or do other ghosts visit you too?”
I’m quite sure she just asked me that, but I’m surprised Alazne isn’t freaking out more, or getting mad because she thinks I’m lying.
“Just her.”
Kateryna had told me about a few times that she had tried to take a walk through the graveyard which for some reason is adjoined to my gated community, but the presence of other ghosts terrified Kat. When a couple of them approached her merely to talk, she fled in a panic. She hasn’t left my home since. A phasmophobic ghost is a sorry sight.
I break the embrace and place my hands on Alazne’s shoulders.
“I’m am not joking, sweetie,” I say in a low voice. “I wouldn’t pull such prank on you.”
“I-it’s okay if you like to joke,” she whispers. “Just… don’t lie to me.”
My mood is ruined. But it’s a perfectly reasonable thing for the love of my life to expect.
“I won’t,” I say in a thin voice. “Still, my point is that you must find this whole thing about my ghost roommate hard to believe.”
“W-well, I know the common objections. Think about how many people have died throughout human history. Wouldn’t the ghost world be congested beyond belief?”
“Apparently not. Most don’t even linger there. It seems that the majority of people die with such few regrets, or a lack of wish to keep living, that they simply dissipate into the aether.”
“Alright, but even with most people’s souls disappearing when they die, wouldn’t the mere passage of time have accumulated a tremendous amount of ghosts in the afterlife?”
I find myself smiling. I love being able to talk to Alazne about a place in which I’ve wasted two decades.
“That plane is indeed quite crowded with ghosts, although fewer than you are thinking. Some ghosts refer to it as the Calm Depths of the Afterlife for a reason. There’s no water in it, but it’s not nearly as overpopulated as one might assume. Ghosts can’t kill each other, only drive you nuts, so if a ghost finds some abandoned ruin with which the living wouldn’t bother, that ghost could live in relative peace for eternity. There are few of what one could call ‘wrath spirits’, whose entire purpose is to rage against whatever they consider ‘the machine’, including other ghosts. One could think that nature figured that those who go through the trouble of haunting are doing so out of a sense of purpose or duty, and they should be provided for accordingly.”
As Alazne stutters for a moment trying to digest everything I just poured into her ears, I want to hit myself. Shut up, moron! How on earth are you supposed to have learned this information?
“I-I mean, as far as Kateryna, the ghost in my house, told me,” I say. “I forgot to mention that the number of ghosts in the afterlife also dwindles because some manage to face their regrets and overcome them somehow. There was this ghost…”
Shit, I was going to speak in depth about Iñaki. I hadn’t thought about that old miserable bastard in what feels like a long time. I don’t think I could pass my interactions with the guy as a tale that Kateryna told me, because then Alazne might wonder why Kat doesn’t leave my house.
“This is all very intriguing…” Alazne says. “Still, wouldn’t there be ghosts from hundreds, thousands of years ago?”
I want to laugh bitterly and say some variation of ‘trust me, you don’t want to know’.
“There must be, but it’s not like you could understand what they are saying. Also, the longer one spends in the afterlife, the higher the risk of going insane. With losing their ghost minds entirely comes, for some, the salvation of dissolving into nothing, because their regrets cease to matter. Or that’s the common conception. It’s not like being a ghost comes with an instruction manual, you know? Ghosts learn by hearsay, and there are some clueless shadows out there.”
“Hmmm… So after one dies he has to look forward to going crazier and crazier from loneliness and impotence?” Alazne asks with a bitter twinge of irony.
“Erm, well… Some do, for sure. But knowing that means you have your work cut out for you: you must live a life of no regrets.”
“… Was that an ‘Attack on Titan’ reference?” Alazne asks, amused.
I sigh.
“Everything is, Alazne. What I mean is that you make the best of it. That’s the whole point of living a life with no regrets: so that you won’t look back and kick yourself over your own failures. And maybe you get to save a bunch of people and cut down some titans in the process, I guess.”
“I love that you are speaking my language.”
“I hope that at least gives you even more reasons to live. Now you are motivated by something other than fear, even if it’s to put titans down.”
Alazne rests on me again, and closes her right hand around my left biceps. She leans in to my armpit, tickling it with her nose, and takes a good whiff, which causes me to chuckle in confusion.
“What are you doing?” I ask.
“Just smelling by boyfriend,” she answers, contented. “You know, you could write some books. You experienced many strange things during those years you travelled throughout Europe, and now you are friends with a ghost… I’m sure people would be interested. I know I would love to read all of it.”
If other ghosts who can possess recently deceased corpses have returned to this plane, they have kept quiet about it. Writing about my experiences, huh? I stroke my chin with my free hand.
“You know, Alazne, I used to write quite a bit when I was…” A woman, that’s what I was going to say. And I would gladly have said it, if it weren’t because I caught myself. Being this relaxed is dangerous. “… When I was younger. Maybe I should try something again. I do have a laptop.”
“Yeah! I would love to read your work!” she says, the image of enthusiasm.
My heart skips a beat as she cuddles closer to me. I release a long breath.
“Thanks for the encouragement, but for now try to get some sleep, my precious girl. You have a strange day ahead of you.”

This morning, before I left Alazne’s apartment to return home and spend a few hours figuring out how every room of my stolen house would look from my beloved’s perspective, I gave her two fifty euro notes and the phone number for the taxi company I had been abusing recently. It’s now six in the afternoon in a cloudy day that has darkened as if the sun was setting, and I can’t stand still. I pace up and down the hallway and the living room, dealing with an anxiety that creeps from the tips of my fingers. I get the feeling that I’m forgetting something vital about the hill of lies on top of which I live.
The bell I set up on the living room’s table rings, sounding sharp as if it had tapped on my eardrums. Kateryna wants to tell me something.
The planchette spells out YOU ARE DRIVING ME CRAZY.
It’s unlike Kat to make such an obvious complaint. I sit down heavily on the nearest chair and rest my forearms on the table.
“I’m sorry. I had grown used to how I needed to act, or maybe behave is the right word, when I was visiting Alazne’s apartment. Now that she’s going to explore my safehouse, I’m simply on edge. My brain is running simulations of every question I could be asked, along with the outlandish answers I should give.”
I groan, sounding more pained than I would have expected.
“What is exactly the truth that you suggest I should reveal to my beloved, Kateryna?” I ask in a hollow voice.
“Then help me, Kateryna. Help me figure out how to tell Alazne the truth without destroying everything.”
The planchette slides in one direction, but it stops. It trembles as if Kateryna was doubting herself. Then it spells out SAY I AM IRENE I AM WOMAN AND ALSO A GHOST BUT I LOVE YOU.
Although I can’t help but laugh, by the end of that outburst my laughs turn bitter.
“My friend, it wouldn’t work on me, I don’t think. I would run for the hills. I don’t want Alazne to reject me like that, I wouldn’t be able to stand it.”
I sigh and rub my eyes.
“Could you throw something at my head, Kateryna? I need to snap out of this. I feel like I’m suffocating. I can’t stand the way I’m lying to her.”
A chill and a cold breeze envelop my surroundings. It’s thicker than usual, and maybe I should feel afraid, but I don’t. I can only hope that this is Kateryna’s way of helping me out.
My head snaps to the side as an invisible hand slaps me. The pain runs across the side of my face, and my eyes get teary. I think I taste blood; I may have scraped the inside of my lower lip with my teeth.
“That, hmmm, that really hurt,” I say as I breathe heavily through my nose.
The cold spot floats towards the ouija board, and the planchette quickly spells out TOO HARD I AM SORRY I CANT CONTROL IT THAT WELL.
As I rub the warmer side of my face, I tilt my head so my neck cracks. Surprisingly, I feel more at ease.
“It worked! I should have known that physical pain would have diverted my troubled mind’s attention from its worries. Thank you, Kat. Unfortunately, I still don’t see how–“
My phone rings, startling me, and I spring to my feet. It’s Alazne.
“Hey, the taxi should be a street away from the address you gave me, but the driver says there’s only a graveyard there. That’s not true, is it…?” She sounded worried, as if I had finally decided to pull a nasty prank. And sending a previously suicidal person to the graveyard while pretending it’s the house I invited her to live in… That’s peak nasty.
I press the phone against my chest for a moment to silence the mic.
“Oh shit, she’s already here!” I tell to Kateryna, and then I hold the phone to my ear as I run towards the front door. “Alazne, it’s a gated community right next to the graveyard. Has a wall covered in ivy. Tell him to drive along the wall past the graveyard. You can’t miss it.”
I stand right outside of my stolen abode’s front door. The houses are organized in four columns of three, and this place is in the second column and closest to the wall. I keep staring at the open gate, which some neighbor must have the duty to close past eleven at night, but for which Asier had the key in his keychain.
I was holding my breath when a taxi appears. Even though I can barely make out Alazne behind the reflection in the windows, I can tell she has spotted me and is leaning towards the driver to talk.
The taxi stops close to the open gate, and the rear passenger door swings out. My girlfriend exits the car while putting the change in her back pocket. I find myself staring in awe. Merely looking at Alazne fills me with such joy.
As I walk up to her, I’m confused by her baffled expression. She alternates between looking at me and at Asier’s house behind me. The taxi pulls away to leave the gated community. The silhouette of the driver’s head stares back at us.
“Y-you weren’t kidding about this community being next to the graveyard,” Alazne says in a low voice as she reaches me. “I would have thought this was an extension of the graveyard, maybe where they arranged the crypts.”
“Yeah, I have wondered what kind of crazy people built these houses so close. But their insane idea worked for our benefit. You can’t beat this silence.”
The community is indeed an oasis of quiet, particularly because none of our ghostly neighbors seem to have the ability to project into this plane their wails and how they plead for their eternal suffering to end.
I smile and take Alazne’s hand. I open my mouth to speak, but my girlfriend, who can’t tear her gaze away from the house, keeps talking as in a trance while she points towards the building.
“Is this seriously your house…? You own this place…?”
“Yeah, I’ve lived here for years,” I reply. I think that’s true.
“It’s huge…!”
“I love hearing that coming out of your mouth. You seem confused, though. You thought I couldn’t afford it?”
Alazne turns her head towards me. She seems to have snapped out of her trance, and now she’s staring as if she isn’t sure where she stands, or as if she needs to reevaluate some aspect of our relationship.
“Asier, I don’t even know what your job is. I had already thought that for someone who insists on paying for everything, you seem as unemployed as me, but…” She gestures towards the house. “This is ridiculous!”
“Oh, you’re right. It’s ridiculous how little you know about me.”
I had meant it as a joke, and yet it isn’t, and Alazne frowns as if I upset her. While I think about how to justify myself, I observe my house like I hadn’t seen it before.
It’s two stories high if you don’t count the partial floor they fit for the attic under the gable roof, and they built the house in the common farmhouse style popular around these parts, particularly in the outskirts of the cities and for the houses of those who can afford some luxury. It’s supposed to bring to mind the struggles of long generations of Basque farmers or some shit. The bricks have a tawny, toasted tone, while the architraves around the windows and doors are tan, and possibly made out of some type of stone, not that I would know or care about the particulars. What’s an architrave, you ask? You tell me. A balcony surrounds most of the second floor, and it has an ornate cast iron balustrade. On the first floor, a closed garage door leads to a garage, against all odds, but it doesn’t contain a car, because Asier wrecked his Škoda when he invaded the opposite lane to kill himself. And I don’t want to buy a new car, no matter how much money I have. Those things are death machines. With the public transport being so good in these parts, personal vehicles are isekai plot devices, as far as I’m concerned.
“There’s also a small yard in the back, but I don’t feel too comfortable there, as the neighbors can look down at you from their balconies,” I say casually to Alazne, who is grimacing with worry. I put a hand on her shoulder. “Listen, sweetie, either I bought this place or I stole it. Whichever seems more likely.”
“You bought it, I’d say. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m amazed, but… I-I feel distanced from all of this, somehow…”
I quickly pull her into an embrace, and when Alazne reacts, she crosses her arms behind my back.
“Alazne,” I start with a serious tone, “maybe I should want to tell you that I worked really hard for this majestic house to which I invited you, both to stay the night and to live in whenever you feel ready, but the truth is that I inherited some money, and my grandparents probably were considerably loaded as well. Not only I hoard quite an amount of euros in my bank account, but I also have a diversified stock portfolio. I’m the kind of rich person that unless I turn into a complete imbecile, I shouldn’t need to debase myself by working for other people, or at all.”
“T-then what are you doing with me? With us?”
Alazne sounded scared. I pull away from our hug, even though she resisted, and I hold her head to invade her mouth with my tongue.
“Hmm… Tastes like blood?” Alazne says, mostly muffled.
“Ah… Sorry, I bit myself out of nervousness.”
We make out for a while, and Alazne is into it, but she ends up pushing me away gently. She has blushed heavily, and is avoiding my gaze.
“I-it’s hard for me to understand why you would want to spend time with someone like me.”
I flick her forehead, maybe a bit harder than I intended.
“Dummy, you know why I am with you! You give too much importance to material possessions. It’s not as if I earned any of it! Well, I… I did earn some of it, I suppose. Just focus on the fact that I have an awesome house in which you will be able to run around, fall down the stairs and shit like that.”
And I wasn’t lying about me having a stock portfolio, although I don’t know if it’s properly diversified, nor do I know what ‘diversified’ means in that context. I found out on my bank’s site that I had entries in something called a stock portfolio. I googled what that meant. Turns out that Asier bought some numbers related to some companies, and those numbers are tied to charts with jagged lines that go up and down. Some people apparently spend all day glued to their devices to monitor how those lines change direction, and they need to follow the international news as well, because some minor event might spook the markets as if they were a colony of cats that just heard a sudden noise. I have no clue why anyone would jump willingly into the rabbit hole of this stocks garbage. I suppose that the people who gravitate towards it need to feel wired or else they’d get bored. They probably snort loads of cocaine off someone’s butt crack. Whatever the case, I own some stock stuff myself, and if one day I need money, I guess I’ll sell those stocks where the line is closest to the top of the chart.
“You know, maybe I should look into buying a summer house somewhere in southern Europe so we can live there half a year,” I say nonchalantly.
Alazne places a hand on her forehead as if she suddenly feels dizzy. I step towards her in case she staggers.
“Really…? This is a bit too much.”
“Just focus on what matters, Alazne: I’m rich enough that I don’t have to work. And because I’m not forced to, I can openly hold the opinion that most of the jobs out there are meaningless, soul-killing tasks created to keep the citizens occupied, because the government needs to lower the unemployment rate so they can use it as a reason for why the masses should vote for them. And also some people are so stupid that if they didn’t work, they would start wreaking havoc because they wouldn’t know how to keep themselves busy. Humanity is just the pits, Alazne, we are naked apes who were given cars and machine guns and we believe ourselves to be civilized because we dress ourselves and produce complicated vocalizations. There’s only a layer of conscious thought above millions of years of instinct, and down there it’s all raw animality. If we could get away with flinging our shit at some people’s faces and ripping some other people’s faces off, you know we would.”
When I finish, Alazne blinks a few times and looks up at me with her big, hazel eyes.
“I suppose that’s right…”
“This whole conversation just reminded me of my general outlook on life that I tend to forget, that’s all. In conclusion: I won’t waste decades of my precious existence inside a breathing, decaying body rimming some boss’ asshole. Instead, I’ll rim your–… I mean, I will eat you out. I don’t like any of that ass stuff.”
Alazne smiles faintly at me while maintaining an absent expression, as if I have removed some vital piece of her brain.
I point at her choice of attire.
“I wanted to mention, that’s a curious way of introducing yourself to a ghost.”
“A-ah, that’s right, there was also the ghost…”
Alazne looks down at her shirt while holding its hem. It features a meme-inspired design that says, in bold letters, ‘REJECT HUMANITY, BECOME MONKE’, above a close-up, smirking depiction of the Beast Titan.
“Yeah, I saw it online and I thought it was cute. I also thought of getting a tattoo of him.”
“For the love of God, I don’t want to stare at the Beast Titan’s bigfoot face as I’m fucking you.”
Despite how nervous Alazne looks, she smirks.
“I would choose his human form, of course.”
“They can do whatever they want with him. He’ll always be bigfoot to me.”
When Alazne finally laughs, she can’t hide the desperation.
“I-I think I need to get inside. It’s getting really chilly, and I was already high-strung about visiting haunted house.”

Note from May of 2021:

Somehow I ended up writing around 75,000 words of this ridiculous story, so when I finally finish it I’ll figure out how to merge it into a functional epub, I’ll commission the cover art, I’ll sell it on Amazon for a couple of bucks or three, and I’ll order a printed version so I can feel that I’m doing something productive with my extraordinarily limited time on this planet.

Also, Alazne keeps bringing up that show, so I might as well link all its openings, creditless and in 60 fps.