Real things are often painful. Things with heft can bruise tender meat. I’ve tried so hard not to hurt him, covering my pitted steel core with soft peach flesh so that he can roll his weight onto me in the night and not be cut. I am careful, very, but even so I need a new lover every few years. Human men wear out so quickly; their gold tarnishes grey and their muscles slacken fast beneath their skins, which pucker into wattles spreading out from the scrotum.
This is the fate of every mortal, but it speeds up with us.
In stories, we are always voracious; sharp-toothed, hollow-spined succubi who fuck men to bones, bedding them down, fast and brutal, in a fat drift of leaves. This is only part-true, and we aren’t fuelled by malice. We don’t do it on purpose. We can wear backless dresses, smile openly, and (if we’re careful) we can ensure that our lovers linger for years. We can make them happy. We do make them happy. Their joy, reflected back at us, is the closest we can come to having what humankind thinks of as a soul.
My current lover is so beautiful; all honeygold hair and hard biceps. I like to watch him as he sleeps. He says that we are married, and I let him believe it. How could he know that those vows he made could never apply to me? I take him into me, gently, every night and it is sweet; like sucking marrow from a well-roasted bone. He keeps me fed and alive; I treasure him for it.
Sometimes, the knowledge of what is coming keeps me awake. I slide out of our bed and walk into the bathroom. I lock the door, stand before the long, wall-bound mirror and let my mask drop.
He would not love me, if he saw me like this, and that is what I use the sight of my own naked talons, my blood-edged feathers, to remind myself of. The fact that he can never really know me acts as a balm to sooth my inevitable grief. Without this knowledge I could be mourning for years.