the kiss

“And they lived happily ever after. That was the first lie she learned, long, long ago, when she was a child of light, a dream living in a sundrenched room, waiting for the one who would come and rescue her from a world that offered no more fairy tales.”

One of my stories, “The Kiss” (originally published in Fairy Tale Lust: Erotic Fantasies for Women; Cleis Press, 2010), was inspired in many ways by the artwork of Gustav Klimt. I used three paintings in specific detail within the story and I’ve long wanted to illustrate these portions of text with the corresponding paintings.

Danae, 1907/08; Oil on Canvas, 77 x 83 cm, Private Collection, Graz.

“He smiled and brushed a strand of hair from her eyes.
“What’s your name?” he whispered.
“Danae.”
“Pretty name,” he said, “and were you locked in a brazen tower by your father after a prophecy foretold?”
“Ah, you know mythology, but have you seen any of the paintings?”
“I only know the one by Klimt.” He looked at her again, reconciling her image to the sudden recollection of the painting, seeing the echo of the sensual turn of her mouth, the casual sexuality of her captured glance, as the god entered her fluidly.
“Of course,” she said, sensing his growing awareness, “it’s not my true name.”
“Neither is mine.”
“But you haven’t told me yours yet,” she laughed.”

“Danae was once a child of light, a beauty stripped, locked in a bare room. Mother died, father steeped in whiskey and smoke, crawling in the shadows of night. Perhaps there would be one to replace the wound, but she had learned some secrets from the forest, she knew it would never heal. So she ran. She dyed her spun gold hair red as flame, she carved her story into her skin, she forgot the language of the wind and sky, and then she forgot the words, spelled in ways she could barely whisper.”

Medizin (Medicine) 1907; Oil on Canvas, 430 x 300 cm; Destroyed by fire at Immendorf Palace, 1945.

“She used her body as a negligible thing, arms and legs and neck poised askew, standing on a shifting precipice, wanting desperately to fall; this life had betrayed her, it was nothing she had ever imagined when she looked at the stars, unaware of the immensity of the surrounding blackness.”

“Images of a painting destroyed in fire, awash with the golden hue of the sun. Body upon body, flesh upon bone, and a single blessed space. Skull, fur, skin. Hygeia holding a snake and a cup from the river Lethe. Time, torment. Bliss.”

Der Kuss (The Kiss) 1907/08; Oil on Canvas, 180 x 180 cm; Austrian Gallery, Vienna.

the kiss

“He caught her in his embrace and held her so close, so completely, their bodies entwined in glistening gold. There was only a moment; he reached for her tranquil face, upturned and angled, and strained his neck and shoulder to place upon her cheek a kiss.”

“The kiss, and then he was alone, slick with sex and transformation. Her body his, once upon a time.”

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