It’s a rare thing for anyone to admit dark fantasies unfiltered. Ferns wrote about sharing them in Darker, and God, it’s beautiful. Not for me the gore but the intimacy. The vulnerability. Above all the oh-thank-fuck moment of seeing that I’m not the only person whose desires veer out to sea.
Sharing fantasies carries risk. We can horrify, alienate, become suddenly sick and dangerous in a lover’s eyes. Here’s a conundrum for you: we’re supposed to be able to open every locked door. Someday, at least, to someone. Can we? Without leaving them lost, trapped, forever changed?
There are fantasies I don’t talk about. They frighten me. They go dark places I’ve never dared tell a partner about. I get off imagining games I never intend to play (but oh, God, do I want to).
How do I talk about the things I hide?
How far can Judith walk in Bluebeard’s castle?
I’ve been texting someone I knew a long time ago. Intensely. Pulling at each other with so much greed across two thousand miles that insist later, later, patience, later. So what do we have to share but photographs and fantasies? And while we can’t touch, do we have to worry so much about what could be real and reasonable? There’s some caution. It’s hard to hit send without wondering, is this what you want? will you still want me when you’ve seen the torture chamber, the armory, the treasury all shining with blood? But there’s a thrill to it, isn’t there?
I’m greedy. He offers a fantasy: Please select a level of violence from 1 to 10, with 1 being vanilla and 10 being emergency services.
I suggested seven. I know it’s asking to open a door, anything over five, and I wonder if he will. What he told me was hot enough to make me tremble (though I’d have likely ranked it at a four). But he also said this: “seven sounds reasonable. I don’t have any that are ten, I don’t think.”
And here I check the locks. Because I do. I have tens and twelves and maybe a fifteen. Do you think violence stops at EMS? That there’s no want feral enough to raze and ruin until there’s nothing left to save? How many stories do we have where desire ends in death, in war?
Will you still want me when you’ve seen the torture chamber? The armory?
We all have locked rooms. They keep us safe. Time and pain and betrayals make us wary of letting people in. Who has the keys to which of our doors, who may walk where unsupervised, how do we handle it when someone tries a door to a room we aren’t ready to invite them into?
It isn’t just violence that hides. There are fantasies I’d rank an eight on that scale but never voice, one that grazes ten that I have. There are other kinds of darkness, thoughts that dare not be illuminated. And always when they cross my mind there’s that terrified flicker behind them–what if I were to say them aloud? What if I were one day to cross that unspeakable line? What would it take?
If you’re interested in fiction that plays on the darkest edge of the erotic, some of the stories in Joel Lane’s The Lost District can take you there.
Bartok’s opera of Bluebeard’s Castle is well worth a listen, if you’re wondering about those doors and keys. It is genuinely chilling, exactly as it should be.