My lover is a voyeur. He likes when I wear pale pink underwear, the ones cut like a bikini bottom. The underwear’s silky flesh emits a sheen under the bedroom lamp light, making me feel invincible. Before I met him, I wore cotton Hanes. He special ordered me pink silk panties from Amazon; they came postmarked from Cincinnati, enveloped in bubble wrap like a treasure, like they were breakable.

He likes to watch the striped lizard in the terrarium in his bedroom. The glass tank emanates heat and is always lit, even when we sleep. Sometimes, I lie awake and listen to the musical scratching of the lizard, skittering off rocks and into sandy patches. I wonder if it sleeps.

I love him. I love his spiky black hair, his blemish-free skin, like a jar of unopened peanut butter. He wears sleek athletic sunglasses, even when inside, and his apartment is dark, the blinds slanted closed. His bedroom smells of baked lizard shit.

The lizard is female, as are all desert grassland whiptail lizards. She reproduces asexually, my lover says when I ask about the logistics of that arrangement. This is all he knows. They are nervous, he says. But he is patient.

When I pleasure him, I watch my long dark hair hairbrush against his legs. When I stop to kiss his lips, his mouth tastes of English muffins and cinnamon. Sometimes, I find a ribbonned trail of fuchsia lipstick on his stomach. Or cherry petals on the back of his neck, underneath the clean buzzed hairline.

I catch him watching her. He never says anything, but his eyes fixate on the glowing tank crammed on top of a rickety table. He never watches reality television, says it makes him feel weird to spy on all those other humans. He stares at the lizard. She has no name.

How soon before we have baby lizards? I ask.

Why aren’t you excited to see me? He demands. Lately, his touch is rough, like a stalking predator in the broiling desert sand. He grips my waist, painting violet blotches on the paper of my skin.

Gaia.

Do you love me? He asks, and I tell him yes, although it’s a lie. I know he doesn’t love me either. What I love, what we both love, is the striped lizard in his terrarium. We lust for the curve of her tail, her sandpaper skin, the extension of her clawed fingers.


 

Amanda Hays is from Allen, Texas but lives and writes in Stillwater, Oklahoma. She works as an associate editor of the Cimarron Review. Her work has appeared in Cheat River Review.