02 February 2009

Jaguar Dreams An Old Lover*

You still come to me in dreams
This little bed can barely hold
The dark beauty of your eyes
Burn like a fire in the cold

Under a sky the color of luminescent bruises, Jaguar sat on the cliff, legs dangling over the edge. His arms angled out from his sides, palms flat with fingers clamped against the raspy rock. He stared unblinking, gazed fixed on the distant torch wavering out on the desert floor. His breathing was shallow, measured: the gentle rise and fall of an infant’s belly. The tears had dried on his scraped and burning cheeks. Small runnels of grit and blood formed a skein of primal tattoos on his face. Jaguar did not bother to wipe them clean; he barely registered their presence clinging to his cooling skin. The wind blew soft bringing with it the faint presence of water, overlying the scent of the Other.

Jaguar blinked slowly with his eyes watering against the dry desert air. The exhaustion he felt caused him to sag, melting onto the rock beneath him. In the back of Jaguar’s mind, a lone guitar played as a gruff baritone sang bittersweet memories that echoed in the canyons behind his eyes.

She was out there, he knew, the scent a faint needle under the skin over his heart.

Comfort is the only kind
Hearts like flowers bloom and fade
Against the chill that finds the bone
Is come from dust to dust in trade

The dust roused by his earlier frantic scrabbling had settled in a faint shroud over his trembling frame. It was in the folds of his skin, in his ears, in his mouth. Jaguar’s lips curled back as he swabbed them with a tongue the texture of sharkskin. He spat into the void. The dirty globule of spittle fell swirling out of sight and scattered into a long silver stream of beads as if caught in a strobe light.

Jaguar rose up slightly in a burst of panic, his breathing breaking down into a series of stop action motions. The sky began to flicker rapidly, phasing in and out of day and night and day and night. He felt his heart pounding, near to bursting from his chest. Out on the desert floor, sagebrush and coyotes raced jerkily about on the sand in the flashes.

There was something new. Something he had not comprehended before. He had seen the rocks near the torch earlier, broken and in rough shadow. Now he could see they formed a crescent in the sand. As he sat transfixed, searching the rocks for signs of life, there was motion amongst the shadows. A faint glimmer of liquid, heavy and shiny-black. Whether oil or water he could not tell. The glimmer subsided and the shadows swallowed up what had been, leaving afterimages as the remains. The flickering sky slowed, the last day bleeding back into the night. Jaguar felt the tension bunching up the muscles of his shoulders, locking his arms into rigid bars. He realized he had lifted himself off the rock edge, and quickly unlocked his arms to settle heavily back in place.

Your sorrow for another coin
A phrase no lover fails to strike
The record of our briefest kiss
The shadows of our love alike

Jaguar briefly looked down, gauging the height and considering whether he could survive the fall, yet again. He rejected the idea, knowing it wasn’t possible, not bothering as he did not want to take his eyes off that trace of liquid that he had seen. In the purplish half-light from the stars he could see the shapes of the rocks, but only shadows where the glimmers had been. His pulse was still high, nostrils flaring as he strained for another whiff of Her. His vision was sharpening, his hearing growing keener and he could hear faint, tremulous noises rising from the desert. The landscape began to brighten as if lit by faint candles. A tiny whispering shusshh reached his ears, which had swiveled forward swiftly to track the sound. Jaguar could feel the fangs lengthening over his lower lip, grown heavy as his face and jaw elongated in the transformation. Overhead, the Hunter looked down and smiled, saying “Welcome back, my friend”. Jaguar looked up briefly, growling softly and baring his teeth at Orion.

The shusshh repeated itself, followed almost immediately by a guttural scream. Jaguar whipped his heavy head downward, swift as the strike of an adder, to pinpoint the source of the sound. His pupils dilated and the aroma of water, warm and laced with the taste of Artemis incarnate, filled his quivering snout. The scent provoked a fit of trembling, arching his back as a tingling surge raced from his nostrils to shoot down his spine and into his loins. Jaguar growled with pleasure as the lifeblood of the earth filled his veins. The shaman king was back.

As memory and the sea are deep
Inside our blue and nameless blood
Coursing through this mortal fuse
The flower with its frailest bud

Jaguar leapt to his feet, claws clicking against the stone. The power was strong in his limbs, which trembled rapidly with excitement. He pressed his tongue against the roof of his mouth, to better gather the scents pouring in from the desert. The stars above began to waver and smear in a swirl of quantam possibilities. Jaguar growled low in his chest. His claws began to dig into the ground, the outline of his body flickering rapidly between human and animal. The shaman laughed as he peeled the flesh from the bones, sinking into the rock and underground.

Swimming through stone, down through the compressed sediments of millions of years, brushing against the fossil memories of beasts long departed. A femur here, a fang there: brothers to the shaman buried under tons of rock. Jaguar laughed as he made his way to the bottom of the cliff. He reached out, parting the igneous curtain and stepping out into the warm desert. Another deep breath. The Other was close, so close. Jaguar tensed to listen. There was a faint whisper of wind carrying the scratching of underbrush rolling across the sand. The scream, when it came, startled Jaguar into a crouch, the leap before the strike.

“Come! Come to meeeeee….!”

He sprang forward in a blur, tawny spotted flesh taut over his muscles. The stars turning into strands of opals, glittering overhead, Jaguar ran as if pursued by the devil. He stretched his legs to the point of near-breaking as he galloped over the sand. The crescent of rock approached rapidly and Jaguar leapt over the nearest boulder. The scent was thick in the air now as leapt again to land on the anvil-shaped rock beyond. His chest heaved, gulping in breaths to slow his racing pulse. He could see a form stretched out on the rock, pale skin glowing like alabaster in the starlight.

She lay unmoving in a thin puddle of water that was rapidly vanishing into the warm desert night. Her hair fanned out in a lacework web around her head. Jaguar’s heart thudded over slowly in anxious panic until he saw her chest rise in a cycle of slow breathing. A soft leap to alight on the rock beside her. Gently, slowly with his muzzle, he traced the curve of her neck where it arced into her shoulder. She did not stir as his warm breath pulsed over the skin, drawing the scent deep into his lungs. He reached out a paw in the shape of a hand and growled quietly.

You still come to me in dreams
This little bed can barely hold
The dark beauty of your eyes
Burn like a fire in the cold

Lover, awake.

(Italicized paragraphs are lyrics from “I Dream An Old Lover” by Jeffrey Foucault, from the album Ghost Repeater)

* This post was inspired by the writings of dynamo Teri, at Cold Lemonade. I read something of hers that I liked, which influenced my “Rusty Cage Fugue” post. These things being circular, she in turn was inspired in writing this post, and led to her suggestion of a collaborative story. Temptation so wonderful cannot be resisted; we hope you enjoy it!


  1. The result of the bloggers' creativity is amazing. Love the story!

  2. Oh, wow. That was AMAZING. The last line about did me in.

  3. Sunny: I am finding tremendous inspiration out there. I dig it!

    MD: Thank you. I'll keep that in mind...:)

  4. I would like a signed first edition please.

  5. I think we are all awake and waiting...

  6. (Sigh!)
    I was eating strawberries while reading this. Perfect compliment to this story.

  7. Awake and waiting, indeed. Looking forward to more. :)

    word verification? 'cresses' hm...

  8. "the color of luminescent bruises" lol love it and "Artemis incarnate", cool!

    Your writing styles really works! I'm starting to wonder if I measure up, seriously. I am also wondering if anyone is reading my side of the story since you and my friend CPM are the only ones commenting. *pout*

    Ok I'm over it. :P
    It's neat reading about my little world from another perspective.

    Well hmm...now that you made it to the rock....I'll have to figure out what happens next. lol mihgt take me a few days.

  9. I don't even know what to say. Seriously. Ok how about if I just say brilliant?

  10. Now I totally want to go howl at the moon or something - I'm amazed by how well each piece compliments the other.

  11. Bravo, dear Gumbo. (if I may be so bold to call you that)

  12. Belle: But of course! And you did say please…

    ChefE: Patience, my dear.

    SK: Were they regular or chocolate dipped :)? Yumm…

    CPM: Teri? You hear that? (what happened to the ‘a’?)

    Teri: Delighted! Artemis just fit so well. I got time…

    Michelle: Brilliant is good, let’s go with it! :)

    Cat: let me know when you do, I’ll join you. Thanks!

  13. SMB: Thank you! And yes, be bold...

  14. I have no idea what "cresses" you are talking about lol

  15. the 'a'? I think Artemis ran off with it.. ;)

  16. beautiful writing ... intriguing story...glad I stopped by from Amy's place

  17. um, hello? You can write man! That was awesome, truly and sincerely.

  18. Teri: I think CPM knows…

    CPM: Should I chase her?

    Kathryn: Welcome, glad you did! Thank you for your kind words!

    Petra: How do! Thank you, I’m honored you liked it!

  19. Of course I know.. ;) I always know.
    and no, don't chase her.. she'll bring it back soon enough...

  20. Dude, I haven't read this yet and my bed is calling my name. I'll be back tomorrow.

  21. Great story. Finding an old lover is bittersweet.


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...