Bluebeard’s Castle

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.

10 thoughts on “Bluebeard’s Castle”

    1. I think I tweeted it at the time (did I? If not I’m saying it now!) what a relief it was when you posted ‘darker.’ This huge mass of tension and shame and guilt I wasn’t even fully aware of just…dropped. And I went, “oh, well if Ferns thinks like this it’s all right then; I know she’s not a monster.” So these thoughts, they’re probably pretty fucked up. They’re still vulnerable and conflicted and the rest, they’re not for sharing. But I don’t feel evil for having them, and that’s kind of a big deal.

      Reading sex blogs: good for mental health development. Who knew?

  1. It’s been hard, to admit the far darker fantasies, and only recently have I. And it’s been at first a pointing at others’ dark fantasies that they have been brave to put out there, with a low muttered “I might find that hot,” and after enough examples sharing a glimmer of my own.
    Maybe he does have a ten, a fifteen. Maybe he just doesn’t want to scare you.

  2. Maybe this is weird, but for me, there’s a lot of excitement to unlocking doors for people to see, even if I am not confident that I should. Often, a large part of the fantasy, is expressing the fantasy.

    There’s a thrill and exhileration when I open up, hoping that it isn’t too much – the relief coming when their response tells me I judged and trusted correctly.

    1. I don’t think that’s weird. There can be an exhilaration and intimacy built from sharing fantasies.

      The ones that scare me, though? That definitely fall outside of happy-safe-sane-consensual land? I don’t even know what a good response would be. Then again, you and I have different perspectives on trust, I think. The more you value it, maybe, the more doors you want eventually to open?

      1. Well I’m not sure what your take on trust is but, for me, because I’ve had my trust shredded in the worst way possible, it’s empowering to be able to (try to) trust like that again and be correct in my judgement that it was worth trusting. When someone violates my trust I’m just as upset at myself for not judging them correctly than I am at them for the violation.

  3. I agree Ferns is most awesome!

    Seems like there are 2 levels of sharing… sharing with others and sharing with oneself. Both with potential to alienate and to increase intimacy. When that acceptance of ‘all of me’ comes, though it is oh so wonderful.

    1. There are. There’s also personal history that makes that intimacy in some ways more frightening than alienation. I avoid letting people too close. There’s a point where boundaries of self and other get tangled, difficult to see. Keeping them clear and uncomplicated is important to me.

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