Isaac and Lin sat naked on either side of the bare wooden table. Isaac was conscious of their pose, seeing them as a third person might. It would make a beautiful, strange print, he thought. An attic room, dust-motes in the light from the small window, books and paper and paints neatly stacked by cheap wooden furniture. A dark-skinned man, big and nude and detumescing, gripping a knife and fork, unnaturally still, sitting opposite a khepri, her slight woman’s body in shadow, her chitinous head in silhouette.
They ignored their food and stared at each other for a moment. Lin signed at him: Good morning, lover. Then she began to eat, still looking at him.
It was when she ate that Lin was most alien, and their shared meals were a challenge and an affirmation.As he watched her, Isaac felt the familiar trill of emotion: disgust immediately stamped out, pride at the stamping out, guilty desire.
Light glinted in Lin’s compound eyes. Her headlegs quivered. She picked up half a tomato and gripped it with her mandibles. She lowered her hands while her inner mouthparts picked at the food her outer jaw held steady.
Isaac watched the huge iridescent scarab that was his lover’s head devour her breakfast.
He watched her swallow, saw her throat bob where the pale insectile underbelly segued smoothly into her human neck … not that she would have accepted that description. Humans have khepri bodies, legs, hands; and the heads of shaved gibbons, she had once told him.
He smiled and dangled his fried pork in front of him, curled his tongue around it, wiped his greasy fingers on the table. He smiled at her. She undulated her headlegs at him and signed, My monster.
I am a pervert, thought Isaac, and so is she.