With a flicker, the camera feed appeared on my computer. My distracted thoughts had orbited anticipation for it all day: the night my girlfriend Lila and I had our first video chat. My heart thumped at the sight of her deep violet eyes, draped dark hair, and soft, pleasant smile. She lay on her bed in all her graceful glory, head resting on one hand as she watched her computer screen.
“H-Hey!” Lila gave a small wave and swallowed. “Glad we’re finally doing this!” She glanced behind her a few times.
She was nervous? I was always the one dull in voice chats, the one afraid to post a photo. Seeing her also nervous about the video chat let me relax a little. I reclined on my bed like her.
“I’m glad, too,” I said.
“I hope you weren’t waiting long,” Lila said.
“Oh, no, no, not at all,” I said, an absolute lie. I hadn’t just been waiting all day, I’d been waiting for a month—ever since we started dating. Ever since I first saw Lila and her beauty inspired poetry in me. We’d been friends much longer than that, though.
I’d met Lila when she first started releasing ASMR relaxation videos online. She spoke so soft and gentle that I imagine at least a few viewers fell in love with her voice. I first spoke with her as a fan, then a friend, then a collaborator as we wrote scripts together.
The inclusion of a song in one video increased her popularity, and we wrote more songs for her to sing. Between that and her cute snake vtuber (in retrospect she was sort of obvious about her secret) her fanbase grew. To thank everyone she posted a photo of herself (above the waist, never her full body) online—the first photo I’d seen of her, too.
I found inspiration blossomed from her beauty. Her wavy midnight violet hair, her amethyst eyes, her soft lips—my head spun with words and I had to write them down. At first she thought it was a song for her to sing, but it was a song I had to sing—of her—for her.
She was an overjoyed mess of love when she realized, and it snowballed into love for each other. I wrote her expressions of love, she sang for me in voice chats, and we grew closer than ever before. It was heaven with her, and now I spoke with heaven face-to-face.
“You look stunning,” I said. Her violet-magenta nightgown looked like a soft blanket as much as it did a gown. My heart fluttered at the thought of snuggling close to her, our long hair draped over each other as we dozed off in each others’ arms.
“Oh, this isn’t much,” Lila chuckled. “I just showered and put on my nightgown.”
“Well, you always look stunning,” I said. Lila smiled.
“Well, you look cute yourself!” she said. I blushed. I would deny it, but if she could say it to my face I couldn’t argue.
I found myself staring into her sparkling eyes, but I glanced between Lila and her bedroom. I’d only seen parts of her house in photos and never so much of her bedroom. It looked warm and inviting, a perfect room for snuggles, but fancy: I saw a mirror with the edge modeled after snakes behind her and some sort of second floor balcony above.
“I hope you had a good day,” Lila said. I sighed.
“It was fine but pretty tiring,” I said. Lila’s eyes sloped down, though she still smiled.
“Aww. Maybe I can help you sleep later,” she said. I smiled.
“You do make the best ASMR lullabies,” I said. Little did I realize just how well she could help me sleep.
I found myself staring at her, and I giggled and squeezed my hands under my chin—the thoughts of snuggling with her stuck in my head.
“Sorry,” I said, “you just look so cute and cozy among all your blankets and pillows. I really want to get to be cozy with you.” Lila grinned. Her bed shifted; a pillow of dark ocean purple and blue moved from under her mauve blanket. Wait, was it a pillow?
“I’d love it if you could be cozy with me here,” Lila said. She leaned forward and pressed both hands against her cheeks. “Soon, I hope. Yes, soon.”
I peered between her blankets and pillows. I thought it was an intricately-patterned pillow, but it appeared to be moving. It looked like—
“Say, Lila,” I said.
“Mmm?” She seemed lost in smiling thought. I grinned.
“I didn’t know you had a pet snake.” It did look like the midsection of a snake, shifting on the bed as if trying to slither—or maybe dancing a little?
“Wh-What?” Lila’s smile dropped. She looked back. “Uh—” She glanced between me and the “snake” as if caught with her hand in a cookie jar. “It’s just—er—”
“I mean, it just looks like a snake,” I said. She seemed nervous. “Don’t worry about it.”
“No, it’s okay,” Lila said. She leaned closer to her laptop. “Real quick first, I just want to look at your eyes, okay? Just gaze into your pretty eyes.”
I leaned closer and directed my focus to her eyes.
“Sure, but mine are nothing compared to your beautiful eyes,” I said. “Your enchanting . . . um . . .” She had soft purple eyes, I was sure, but they looked lighter than usual—no, darker than usual—no, bluer than usual. “Your enchanting . . . violet . . . blue . . . No, your . . .” So focused on her eyes, my thoughts felt slow and hard to parse. “Your enchanting . . . eyes . . .” Lila sighed and smiled.
“Aw, your eyes look nice, too,” she said. “But maybe even better with mine reflecting in them. Let’s just gaze into each others’ eyes.”
“That sounds lovely,” I said. I gave a soft sigh. My thoughts usually bounced about in my head, but they settled as my mind turned soft and quiet, leaving just one track in my mind thinking of Lila.
“It’s the first time we’ve been able to just stare at each other,” Lila said, her voice silk in my ears.
I knew Lila’s voice sounded enchanting, but I hadn’t expected simply looking at her to be so captivating. She relaxed her pose on the bed. I could feel my own body laze as I gazed, not a care but to stare. My head felt like a force held it in place, and I could only loll a little as my muscles melted away. I only wanted to stare at Lila anyway.
At the time I thought I was lost in the moment. I could think clearly but slowly, like my thoughts traveled upstream. I thought I was just overwhelmed by how beautiful she looked, and that was why my thoughts felt like the color of her eyes even though I couldn’t get a read on her eye color.
I didn’t know the meaning of overwhelmed then.
“This is nice,” I said. My speech felt in the fuzzy border of dreams and reality. Had I spoken, or did I just think I spoke? “Quietly admiring each other.” The longer I gazed at her the less our computers felt like a barrier. If I let my thoughts drift I could believe we lay in the same room, side-by-side, intertwined. Distance didn’t matter as long as I gazed at my girlfriend.
“It is nice,” Lila said. She frowned, just for a second, but only half her smile returned. “But—” She spoke as if her words would send her off a precipice into the unknown. “There is something I need to tell you. To show you.”
“I’m here for you,” I said. “As long as you’re comfortable, please, go ahead.” Her laptop shook, and the tip of a purple tail slithered into view. “Ah right, your snake.” I’d forgotten about that.
“W-Well,” Lila said, “you’re missing a word, it’s more like, ‘You’re a snake.’”
My slow thoughts swam upstream to suggest I speak a silly Super Mario, “Your-a-snake,” but by the time I comprehended the idea the tail lifted Lila’s mauve blanket. From her violet gown emerged a dark purple and blue snake body nestled against her mattress, as wide as her and growing thicker, which curled around her bed to become the tail I had seen earlier.
Lila didn’t have a snake under her blanket. Lila was the snake under her blanket.
My mouth dropped open in shock. A million thoughts crowded my mind, but they only trickled upstream. By the time I registered that I was staring at a lamia, that I was dating someone not entirely human, someone part snake, with a thick, long, winding, scaly tail instead of legs, calmer thoughts poured in. Lila revealed this to me over the internet. We were in entirely different locations. She trusted me enough to reveal this impossibility, with no way to restrain me.
I wondered what her tail felt like. To feel my hand slide across the texture of her long body. To feel her long body slide around . . . and around, and around me. I swallowed and smiled at the thought of the multiple entwining hugs she could hold me in. She smiled back and looked at her tail; my gaze followed.
“So what do you think?” she asked.
“You have a beautiful tail,” I said. “I love the colors, and the pattern looks nice.” Lila blushed and giggled. She looked straight at me, leaning closer, and I leaned closer too.
“So you’re okay with the fact I’m not human?” she asked. “With the fact I have a snake body and tail?”
I stared into her eyes. They looked brighter. I definitely saw shifting colors, soft violets and blue. I tried to focus, to not lose myself gazing, and I chuckled with a lazy sigh.
“I, honestly, now I want to meet you in person even more,” I said. “I’d love to feel your tail.”
I had more to say but Lila squealed, pulling her hands to her chest. She grinned, turning her head up with shut eyes, and my head jerked up before lolling in a circle. I felt like a support string broke, like something holding my head let go without my realizing it was there.
“You have no idea how happy I am to hear that!” she said. “I’ve been so nervous about this ever since we decided to have a video chat. I knew it was the best time to show you, I just . . .” She tilted her head and sighed. “Well, you never know how someone will react to being told they’re dating a demihuman.”
I shook my head and laughed. “Yeah. It wasn’t on my list of expected things to happen, but it’s really amazing.” I stretched my neck; I felt like a cramp I didn’t know I had faded. I blinked hard.
“I think I’ve been really intently watching you,” I said. “I felt like I couldn’t look away.” I grinned with sudden inspiration. “Your allure fascinates like a priceless gem; when I look at you, you’re all I attend.” Lila chuckled and looked away.
“Actually, there’s something else I need to tell you,” she said, voice wavering. “I was kind of holding your gaze steady when I showed you my snake body.” She cleared her throat and looked back at me. “I have a hypnotic power with my eyes, and I used it to hold you in place and keep you calm in case you freaked out.”
“Really?” I peered into her eyes. They looked normal; I felt normal. Lila flinched as if surprised I stared into her eyes in response. She smiled.
Her eyes flashed soft lavender, mauve, and blue-indigo. I felt my focus shrink to her eyes, like a flash of light or dab of paint shot through my mind. I felt an outside thought slide through my head and coax my mind to the colors. I blinked it away.
“Tingly!” I laughed. Lila sighed.
“I’m sorry I did it without your permission,” she said. She bowed her head. “It can be really dangerous to reveal this to someone, so I needed to be careful in case you rejected me.”
“It’s okay,” I said. “I understand why, and I don’t mind at all. All you did was hold my gaze in place so I couldn’t look away, right?” Lila nodded, and I grinned. “Well, your beauty holds my gaze anyway, so it’s perfectly acceptable to use your hypnosis to hold my gaze without my permission because you also don’t need my permission to be”—I squeezed my hands against my face—“so irresistibly pretty, as well!” We giggled, and I took a breath. “For real, I’m really glad you trust me enough to know this.”
“Me, too,” Lila said. She pulled her hands close. “There are so few people who actually know I’m a lamia, it’s going to be so wonderful having someone I can confide to about it.”
“Would you give me a closer look at your tail?” I asked.
“Sure!” Lila lifted her laptop with the end of her tail and scanned it over her snake body. I could see her scales close, and my arm twitched; I wanted to reach out and touch her, learn what her scales felt like.
My breath caught when I saw more of her snake body, most of it draped over her round bed. Her bed looked wider than my bedroom, and I wondered if even Lila could squeeze in my room. Staring at her long, thick tail, I could only daydream about sinking into a pile with her, of her, as she caressed and kneaded and hugged me, wrapped all over me; I realized I was grinning like a watermelon and blushing like a furnace. I wondered if her tail felt cool.
“Can your tail regulate its temperature like humans,” I asked, “or is it more like snakes?”
“Somewhere in between, actually,” Lila said. She placed the laptop back down. “Lamias can regulate their body temperature somewhat but not as well as humans.” She slumped. “So my heating bills are kind of high.”
“I wish I could warm you up,” I said. “Just let you hold me as your personal heater. You wouldn’t have to pay, just keep me fed and—um—” I pursed my lips. Lila tilted her head.
I looked away and murmured, “Hypnotized.” Lila laughed. I glanced back.
“You liked that, huh?” she asked.
I leaned closer. “Could you—would you like to hypnotize me again?”
“Sure, but I have to ask you something.” Lila grinned. “Do you want me to hypnotize you again? It all depends on what you want.” I swallowed.
“Yes. Yes, I do.” I smiled. “Any excuse to gaze at you sounds good to me. And maybe deeper, this time? Like, all the way, rather than just holding my gaze?”
Lila nodded. “Absolutely. Make sure you’re comfortable, maybe dim your lights, and let me know when you’re ready.”
I shut the bedroom light off, and I turned on a lamp so Lila could still see me and the computer light wouldn’t sting my eyes. I lay forward on my bed, placing my laptop at the end. As I did we worked out a safe word I could say so she’d know something was wrong and wake me up. She said that were she physically with me she could notice something wrong with my body’s reaction, but a safety word would still be a good idea. Once she explained the process and how my body might react (I asked her to just let me just find out firsthand but she wanted to do it safely), I told her I was ready.
Lila shut her eyes for a few seconds.
She held her eyes shut for a few more seconds.
Several more seconds passed.
I leaned closer to ask when she’d start, but Lila opened her eyes and I lost the words. Her eyes pulsated striking violets, some orchid, some lavender, some lilac, sometimes a cornflower blue. I stared wide-eyed at the colors, my body relaxing as if I sank into a field of flowers. My mouth dropped open. I tried to steady myself as I spun, afraid I teetered off the bed, but my mind was just spinning deeper into Lila’s eyes as I slumped on my mattress.
Lila swayed her head like waves in the ocean, and I followed, head rocking, body swaying as the colors in her eyes rippled through my vision, tinting the world in soft violets. I smiled as Lila hummed a tune, and she sang.
“Just relax, your head feels light,
“Follow my eyes, colors so bright,
“You’ve never seen such a beautiful sight,
“I’ll lead you through hypnotic night.”
I thought I’d turned a lamp on, but beyond my computer I only saw rippling purple and blue waves. Even my computer looked shrouded, and the longer I stared at Lila the less I noticed it. I only attended to my beautiful, charming, perfect girlfriend, clearer than anything else, as if no screen separated us but rather she sat next to me. She shifted her tail on the bed, and I heard it rustle closer around me.
Wait, around me? We weren’t . . . Where was my computer? I thought I was looking at it.
Or did I think otherwise?
“Are you feeling nice so far?” Lila asked. She nodded, and my head nodded after. I smiled a lazy-dazed grin, my eyelids dropping on each nod. I did feel nice, following along, her eyes filling my head. My mind felt like she massaged it, dipped it into refreshing waters, each pretty ring from her eyes a gentle flower brushing over my thoughts as they flittered away in a gentle breeze. I forgot all about my computer.
“Would you like to sing a little song with me?” she asked.
I usually don’t sing, but before I could consider it properly Lila nodded her head again. I followed into a yes, of course I would sing with her.
“Relax your mind, so easy to sink,”
(“Relax my mind, so easy to sink,”)
“As long as I’m here you don’t have to think.”
(“As long as you’re here I don’t have to think.”)
“It’s such a relief to take such a break,”
(“It’s such a relief to take such a break,”)
“So let your mind drift deep in my spell’s lake.”
(“I’ll let my mind drift deep in your spell’s lake.”)
“It feels so good to follow my gaze,”
(“It feels so good to follow your gaze,”)
“So take my hand, I’ll lead you through the haze.”
(“I’ll take your hand, you’ll lead me through the haze.”)
I would have jumped had my body not slackened so lax that I couldn’t move on my own—I’d have sworn to Lila that her fingers interlocked with mine, her hand holding mine close. Last I remembered we were on entirely different continents, but all my senses told me she sat right next to me, holding my hand, pulling me along with her gentle sway.
I grinned. She was right there with me, leading me on an amazing journey. I couldn’t ask for anything better.
“Just let me hold you close and tight,”
(“I’ll let you hold me close and tight,”)
“My scaly hug so comfortably right.”
(“Your scaly hug so comfortably right.”)
Lila slithered her tail over my legs and squeezed around my hips. I felt her scales slide over my skin, cool and close, a growing hug rising with each loop around my body. With every squeeze my grin widened, and my eyelids rose, only to droop further, wavering up and down.
I didn’t care where we were; as long as I followed her shimmering eyes I was with Lila, gliding on a gentle journey in her hold. She sang into my ear, her voice all around me, the only thing I could hear, the only one I wanted to hear. The only voice I wanted in my head.
“Sink so deep in my heavy hug,”
(“I’ll sink so deep in your heavy hug,”)
“My squeezing tail holds you so snug.”
(“Your squeezing tail holds me so snug.”)
“You’re safe and sound in my enchanting embrace.”
(“I’m safe and sound in your enchanting embrace.”)
“Enveloped in coils with elegant grace.”
(“Enveloped in coils with elegant grace.”)
Lila held my arms tight against me in her coiling tail, thicker loops below holding my legs. With each new squeezing loop she hugged tight and massaged my back higher, kneading my body as malleable as putty, my mind long gone past that point. She brushed her scales along my chest as she passed, and she squeezed my grin wider with her tail, scales stroking past my face as her coils piled higher. She swept her scales endlessly around me, every inch of my skin shivering in massaged comfort, her tail so heavy and close I felt like jelly in a jar of coils, my mind like a jar to hold her hypnotic spell.
I completely forgot where I was now, other than with Lila. I held no thought of my room, my computer, even Lila’s room. I lay in her squeezing coils, that was all that mattered as she slithered over my shoulders and massaged my neck, still rising up my body, piling loops of squeezing scaly tail upon my shoulders to sink me deeper in her heavy hug. Her tail far outweighed me, my body a minuscule plaything compared to her strong, ample coils, and I gladly surrendered control to her. I swallowed as her tail stroked my throat, sending tingles rolling up my head where she curled her tail to rest in my hair.
After a full squeeze from Lila all over my body, I dropped one last time into complete submission and subsuming into her. Every thought, painted in her deep purples, orbited around love for her. Whereas my thoughts previously swam upstream, Lila’s spell now swept them out to sea, leaving my mind in a quiet ocean of her control, empty, calm, still, asleep. I dropped into a complete trance as Lila held my entire being. She chuckled, stroking one hand behind my head and another over my cheek.
“Have a wonderful sleep,” she said. She leaned closer. With a smack, our lips met in a warm, squeezing embrace.
Our first kiss.
We may have been on opposite sides of the world at the time, but that kiss felt as real to me as anything I’d ever experienced.
It was far from the last.