If you see a beautiful maiden dancing alone in the forest, and she asks you to dance with her, check first to make sure her backside isn’t hollow.
I know, it sounds nuts. But really, there is a certain type of solitary fairy called Leanan-Sidhe, who eats unwary men. These fairies are the size and shape of human women; but you can tell that they are not real women at all because they are hollow in the back like an old, burned-out log. If you meet her, she will suck the life from you slowly, or she may devour you, it all depends upon her hunger; but you will die in any case.
This may come as some surprise to think that fairies are not all small and winged creatures who spend their time pollinating flowers and dancing among the toadstools. The come in many shapes and sizes; but share one characteristic: like any magical being, they have no conscience. They spend their time according to their needs for sustenance and pleasure and do not know regret.
The difficulty is, that the Leanan-Sidhe are quite enticing; and once they put on human clothes you can’t see that their backs are hollow. They, of course, wear clothes when they are hunting men to hide their hollow backs. But also because, let’s face it, most human women don’t dance through the forest naked, inviting strange men to join them. It may be a pleasant fantasy, but it doesn’t sell well in the market –one of those “too-good-to-be-true– what’s the catch?” offers that people generally pass up… or wish they had.
So, they wear clothes. It isn’t until you wrap your arm around her waist that you notice something is amiss. Her clothes feel sort of like a drum-skin beneath your hand. Actually, they feel exactly like a drum-skin. But that really isn’t possible, is it? Not when she’s laughing so gaily; and you’re moving so quickly together. The magic has begun. Who wants to think about impossibilities when she feels so good, pressed to you this way? And dancing so fluidly next to your skin…
Perhaps God has noticed that you’ve been a good boy after all. Maybe you’re finally getting some good Karma thrown your way. It isn’t too much to hope for, is it: I mean, she invited you, didn’t she? And, God, it’s not like either of you are asking for a happily-ever-after here. This could be fun… She presses against you again, and you’re barely thinking. Lots of fun…
You wouldn’t think it strange that she should have a gleam in her eye that matches yours. It’s obvious, she wants you too. What else could it be?
She pulls you down with her. Lying in on her back, a bed of leaves beneath her, beckoning so warmly. Her hands exposing you… caresses…kisses… don’t think now… don’t ruin this… too good…
Soon, she is wiping blood from her chin. Your bones and various in-edibles lie on the mulch-covered forest floor that was so soft under your knees a moment ago. Your cries to hail la petit mort, the little death, ushered the real one instead. The leaves are wet and red.
If somehow you could stay and watch her, perhaps you would see that, for a moment, her backside was normal. She felt whole and satisfied. That insatiable longing for mate, lover, union, was filled as she sucked you dry.
Soon though, her cheeks are wet. Tears softening dried blood as she presses skeletal fingers to her own. Wishing you could have stayed longer. That you had not left so soon. She is puzzled that you have gone. Was she not beautiful and gay? Were you not pleased wither her dancing? Perhaps you disapproved of her forward ways. But, no, you had smiled as she touched you, and only hesitated long enough to show your concern for her. She liked that about you.
She gathers up her gown and holds it close to her face, savoring the scent you left there. She does not notice the blood she stains her clothing with as she weeps, caressing them. She misses you, the feel of you, so solid in her arms. She does not know why you have left her, only that you have gone.
Feeling so empty in herself. Unprotected. Hollow. She cradles her garments as she walks to a nearby pool to bathe. Walking slowly, careful to hide her emptiness from watchful eyes. Wanting so to be like other women of the Faye. Whole. Strong. Proud. Those who copulate for desire and do not need the flesh of men to fill them. Those for whom passion and reality do not devour one another. Somewhere on the outer edges of her understanding she has seen that these are the ones who can go unclothed and are not ashamed. These are the ones whom Love and Union find, and are pleased to stay with.
It seems unfair. These others do not spend all their thoughts and energies in search of Love. Why should she, who longs to be Love’s servant, go so long unfilled? I t does not make sense that she is denied the attention of this Goddess. Surely, her faithfulness has been noticed and Love is only waiting for the timing to be right…
She bathes slowly in the pooled spring, remembering your touch and stroke, smiling to herself through tears. She thinks in vain how she might find you again; and invite you to dance with her once more. This is silly, she says to herself. These mortal men are stupid. They do not return, not even for one as beautiful as I.
Sunning herself dry beside the pool she combs her hair. Checking her reflection in the water she is startled by a change in her appearance. Oh, no one else might notice, but just for a moment something shifted. If she were not a fairy and used to magic, she might thing herself insane to see her own shape shift and another soul look through her own eyes. It was not her own soft beauty that she saw, but the hardened eyes of a man gazing at her with desire and kindness. She looks away, terrified. And looks once more, intrigued.
Her familiar loveliness smiles back through the gentle ripples, then slowly fades again. His face shining where hers should be. He is now as real and solid as she. A kindred soul looking back at her through her own reflection. If this is true, she thinks, … then perhaps he has been with me all along. He knows my life and has seen my tears and triumphs. He knows my dreams and is warmed by them. He smiles with me, and I see more than hunger in his eyes. There is Love standing with this one… Returning his gaze with wonder and relief, she accepts him into herself, and it sad only at the thought that he has had to wait so long before she found him. A quietness inside her knows he will not leave. They are forever joined.
Gently as you watch her, and without her noticing, the hollowness that should have been her back is filled. Glancing about her as she rises to leave, she finds it odd that someone would leave their stained and mired clothes out here, so far from the places that humans usually go…
You would have seen these things if you could have stayed to watch once she had devoured you; but that simply wasn’t possible, was it?
There will be no selfless thought to mourn your death. It would be impossible to tell her that she should not dine on men. She was hungry and your flesh would stop the pain, if only for a time. You will not be mourned because she has no way of knowing that mortal men are so easily consumed. Your only possible comfort is the hope that you may feed her long enough for the magic that is within her to be realized.
So please, take my warning seriously, and do not dance with strange maidens in the forest; but if you will dance anyway — dance only with the naked ones.