There is a beast that lives inside me. The beast has dirty feet and likes to make fires. The beast is very good at making fires. If we are on a hill or in a woodland clearing, the beast will be the first one to scurry into the undergrowth and come back hefting armfuls of branches. It is impossible to be angry with the beast. It would be stupid to wake up hungover and blame the beast. Yes, the beast was the one spitting mouthfuls of vodka into the flames to watch them turn blue, but that’s no reason to be held accountable. The truth is that the beast is the most pure part of me. The beast does not know shame. The beast comes from a place where embarrassment is not a part of the general (or specialised) vocabulary. If the beast wants to take off all my clothes, I will. If the beast wants to recite witch chants and conduct improvised sermons of pagan mythology, you’d better listen. The beast is related to mushrooms. The beast is not about lust—there is another creature inside me that takes care of that, perhaps the Japanese fox-spirit Kitsune or just a fifteen-year-old girl with one hand stuck permanently in her own knickers, but it’s not the beast. The beast would rather wrestle than writhe, rather scritch than smooch (although, what can I say? Of course, both creatures sometimes end up entwined.) The beast is related to the term “cuddle puddle”. It’s not that the beast is particularly adept at climbing trees or scaling rocks; it is just that the beast has a different relationship with the concept of falling. Mornings after, the beast is adorned with scratch marks and new bruises. Again: it doesn’t matter. I refuse to blame the beast. These marks are a small price to pay for a door cracked open to another dimension of the universe. Instead, I say thank you. I pet the beast; I let it sleep long and late. It will come back again soon enough. I will make sure of it. The beast and I—we shall run through the night, hand in hand.