She was crouched in the corner of the room, eating something off the floor. It was the old woman dressed in endless black. When she looked up this time there was no question she was there for me. She had the face of my mother but much older, her ancient decayed mouth coming closer for her good-night kiss. I steeled myself against her putrid smell, the mouthful of bitter dust, but as her lips touched mine it was like biting into a purple black plum whose fruit was brilliant red, like an explosion of intense joy. Its childhood smell wrinkled my nose with pleasure, its sweet juices ran down my chin, turning into a beautiful black ocean where I floated safely, not lost as I had imagined, but securely tucked away deep in space.
I wanted to feel like I could open my mouth and fill it with Pepper's flesh, close my teeth on her skin and tear it away, making blood pump like a fountain over everything - rug, clothes, hair, face - both Violet and I stopped in midair. Pepper's eyes had flooded with tears. It was too easy, she was enjoying this. Her body softened like a sponge waiting to soak up my punches. Her lips smiled the same way Valerie's did. It was as if I had discovered maggots in her flesh. I recoiled from her where she lay on the bed like a piece of rotting meat.