the pearl

A Glass Asylum

"Something kind of hit me today
I looked at you and wondered if you saw things my way
People will hold us to blame
It hit me today, it hit me today"
David Bowie, "We Are The Dead"

Tara never smoked before. It polluted her body, her temple, ruining everything inside of her. The slight smoke of incense — always jasmine and sandalwood — could slide through her body, permeating her clothing, permeating her soul, but never tabacco. Never cigarettes.

But now, she smoked constantly. A steady stream of cigarettes being lit, being smoked, being put out in a tiny ashtray, overfilled with butts, nicotine and carcinogens slamming against her lungs, her heart, her bloodstream.

It was something to do. Something to fill the time. The thick brick walls, empty of any decoration, stared back at her with resolve, guilt oozing from them in thin rivlets of condensation. Sometimes she thought she saw Willow's face in the walls, the mildew and dust shaping her eyes, her smile, the gentle wave of her hair as it laid against Tara's chest, holding each other as the sweat dried from their bodies.

And sometimes the walls were different, horrific. Willow's dull dry eyes and bloodstained clothes, her mouth open in horror. A spell gone horribly wrong, athame slippery in Tara's hands as she tried to call it back, tried to save everything from falling apart. Willow wasn't herself, she hadn't been herself. She was able to keep it at bay, smothering it under herself, but it bubbled to the surface, erratic and damaging. Everything crashed when the demon emerged, slick and condensed, shiny and sharp from years of being trapped under the weight of everything Willow.

Tara loved a monster. Tara fell for something horrific underneath shining green eyes and a flash of red hair. And it was up to her to stop it.

Another pack of cigarettes slid into her cell from the mail clerk, the letter attached from the same person, the one person who forgave her, all those years ago, who understood. Daniel sent her cigarettes, sent her letters, let her know that there was someone out there who still cared about her, who knew from within himself that the creature inside could not be controlled, could not be restrained. And when it finally grew out of control, it had to be stopped.

Dead women tell no tales, and who would believe a story about an exorcism gone horribly wrong? She was nothing, a pale lesbian shadow on an otherwise perfect heterosexual Californian world. Who would believe her when she described magic and wonder, demons and death?

Cigarettes were a indicator of time. Two packs a day, marking the minutes between lights on and lights out. She showers after she finishes the first pack, the water lukewarm like cooling blood, remembering clutching Willow to her, wishing the tiny body was big enough to curl up in and hide in, buried deep inside her lover, not just her fingers, not just her fist, but her entire body wrapped in the skin, wrapped in the muscle, replacing the heart ripped out just seconds before.

Demons floated through the cigarette smoke as she exhaled. Demons like the one possessing Willow ever since that night in Sunnydale High, slipping into her as she was buried under a pile of books. Demons like the one that screeched like a baby when it emerged from Tara's lover, emerging from her body, ripping through her chest. Demons like the faceless nameless ones, given only titles...Judge, Jury, Defense, Prosecution.

Demons like the one facing her now, the empty room at the end of the hall, the small sealed airless room, filled with the ghosts of the victims, of the dead.

She'll join them soon, she knows. And maybe...

Just maybe...

Her Willow will be with her.

This Angel/Buffy the Vampire Slayer story was written by Kate Bolin. If you liked it, there's plenty more at And you can feedback her at