Knox Bar in Rainstorm (Montreal) - credit: Jason Thibault - Creative Commons attribution 2.0

Rated M – Mature

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:

Like Coleridge, I dreamed this story in its entirety. And I don’t mean that I dreamed the idea of it; the actual words came to me in a dream. This is the first and only time such a thing has happened to me, but the results were inspiring.

I hope you enjoy it.



by Jak Koke

The distant hiss of rainfall. The fizzle of soda in your glass. The taste of scotch. 

You catch sight of her through the thick, musky air of the bar. 

A new one, this butterfly. 

Her bright, painted wings flutter and scratch themselves dry of the rain. She looks fragile, all alone like that. 

And with last night’s changes still a vivid horror in your mind, you leave your drink at the bar. You self-consciously straighten your chitinous segments, fixing your beetle wings into pristine alignment, and approach her. 

She smiles demurely at you, her antennae twitching in fevered anticipation of what is going to happen. And you smile back. This is going much better than last night. 

Better because you feel no change coming, no morphosis. No sacrifice. 

She will be yours, or nothing. 

She accepts your offer of a drink, and maybe it’s just your imagination, but the yellow and blue seem to fade slightly from her wings as she tucks them seductively behind her and takes the seat next to you. 

Smoke and dim lights, drinks go by. She talks animatedly, sharing your views on politics and education. 

Crystalline rain pours outside as you offer to escort her home. The blue in her wings is an unmistakable deep mahogany now, and you marvel at her desire. To please. 

Please take me home. 

Your home. 

The rush through the downpour is full of laughter and touching. The dance of the flutter. The twitch of the antennae. 

Soft music and a hot lamp, sweat and a brandy nightcap. You check your exoskeleton in the mirror. Hard as a tank, deep brown. No change from this morning. 

But she … she’s a different story. She is hardening. The softness of her fur grows brittle under your touch. Her papery wings caress you, toughening as they pry into the tender places between your segments. 

You fly with her at first, the two of you fluttering around the flame of your desire. Then plunging into the fire. The fire that purges. 

That burns the soft fur, the paper wings. 

It is she who morphs this time, exciting you with mandibles that grow huge to match your own. Thick with sharp bristles, they crunch against you. A brutal kiss. 

She bucks with you. She writhes as you do, chitin segments forming on her abdomen. She becomes the perfect mate. 

What you want. 

What you most desire. 

And as you roll with her, she bites you. Tries to pry the exoskeleton away from your soft insides, seeking the sweet, gooey nectar of the spaces between the skinplates. 

Pain. Exquisite pain. 

Then, burning pleasure. Brief ecstasy. 

You encircle her neck with your huge pinchers. In that moment, you try to sever her head. In that moment, you hope you’ll want to see her again, despite her eager morphosis. 

You stop short at the crunching sound. When the smell of her insides touches your feelers. The soft, fragile odor under her newly hardened skin. 

You roll off and stretch your wings, breathing in the heavy, warm air of sex. You wonder if perhaps this is her true form. Perhaps she will come for your head now. You don’t think she will, but for a moment, you let yourself hope once more. 

Sure enough, the scent of butterfly drifts from her. You look over and see her changing back. Paper wings, blue and red. She’s beautiful in the afterglow. Outside matching inside. 

You watch her and enjoy scratching the underside of your wings. Wings hard as rock. Unchanged. You morph less and less over the years. Because when you do, you go too far. You change all the way and lose yourself. 

Like she just did. 

Like you did last night, growing the yellow bulb of the wasp. The stinger to match your lover’s. 

And this morning you hurt, not knowing who you were. What you were with. Hating yourself for giving in to the change. 

Next to you, the butterfly stretches her legs seductively. You smell her smile as she gets up. As she trembles, she’s had a good time, but she must be going. 

Of course. 

But the let-down hits hard, and you wish now that you’d morphed, if only slightly. You want her to be the one who brings the slow transformation. The metamorphosis—the slight change from inside, meeting you halfway. 

When she is ready, you accompany her through the hiss of rain. You escort her home. 

Your conversation is the dance and the jokes. Laughter and music of the twitch. It is less awkward than most nights after the purge. After the flame. 

But behind the dance, you are thinking about the next night. About meeting another someone. Someone with the scent to melt you from the inside. 


Then she’s gone, and you make the lonely trip home, through the black rain and firefly streets. You scurry up the stairs to your apartment, feeling lightheaded as you enter. The bedroom smells of sex and butterflies. You remember her demure smile, the flick of her antennae as she discussed politics and education. 

You liked what she said. 

She has left a note on the table. 

You know it is her number, and you are determined not to call. She’s not the one. 

But you relish the memory of her fluttering dance, her jokes. The sweet nectar of her scent. 

And your skin thins with the recollection, your wings grow weightless. Like paper. 

And as you check them in the mirror, you see a surprising alteration: deep brown to gray, to blue flecks. The change is slight. Barely noticeable. 

Slow transformation. 


You clutch her note tightly to your abdomen. And a shiver passes through you despite the musky heat of the apartment. 


Image credit: Knox Bar in Rainstorm (Montreal) by Jason ThibaultCreative Commons attribution 2.0.