So… time got away from me and I haven’t posted in a while… But I hope I’ll make up for it with this review of Vida Bailey’s “Night Heat” (which appears in Alison Tyler’s Sudden Sex).
I was utterly enchanted by this story, in which a woman, woken from sleep by a storm, is coaxed back to bed and back to warmth by her lover. The atmosphere reminded me of Walter de la Mere’s poem Silver, where the slow and silent moon walks the night in silver shoes. As befits the midnight setting, there’s an air of magic to Bailey’s story, and some witchiness and kinkery too, with the woman worried about draining the warmth from her lover’s skin and absorbing it into herself.
I loved how elemental the story was, with the contrasts drawn between light and dark/fire and ice/cold and warmth, and the animal comforts of warmth and sex and connection. We read about “cats and foxes sheltering from the storm,” the woman’s lover “earth warm” drawing her back to the “burrow” of their bed. The story emphasises our dual nature as human and animal. When they end up entwined in a carnal embrace, the woman’s lover marks her as his: “My pulse beats in the bruise he leaves, heart and cunt and blood all throb.”
Bailey’s writing is dreamlike and sensual and beautiful, and I cannot wait to read more of it.