"Do you like it?" Clytie danced closer to Xogenes, who retreated a little. "It's new!"
"I know it's new," he replied, edging away again as she approached. "You never used to have tentacles all around your waist."
"They're cilia, silly." Clytie giggled and made the tentacles undulate around her in a sinusoidal wave. "Look, they're giving you a Mexican wave!"
"They're giving me the creeps," said Xogenes. He'd spent the morning chiselling a face out of a lump of concrete, and the first part of the afternoon trying to work out whose face it was. It looked familiar, but the name associated with it never quite seemed to get to the tip of his tongue, always getting lost somewhere on the way. Then Clytie had knocked on his door, putting her metal fist through the newly-repaired panels again, and he'd had to stop what he was doing and lock up the studio before she broke anything else. And now she had these white, translucent cilia all around her waist. They wriggled suggestively and made him think of hungry maggots worming blindly around in search of rotten meat, and his gorge rose a little every time he had to look directly at them.
"They're very modish," said Clytie, giving him a twirl. "Two months, and everyone in Paris will be wearing them."
"I'll avoid Paris this summer then," said Xogenes with heartfelt intensity. "Can you really say you're wearing something that you've had surgically attached?"
"They can be surgically detached again," said Clytie. "They're like contact lenses."
They weren't, thought Xogenes. Contact lenses didn't wiggle in your eyes or try and grab things when you stood near them. He backed away a little more, checking over his shoulder to see if he was about to be cornered by Clytie, and adjusted course to parallel the wall.
"They've improved my diet, too," she said. "They eat things, and they directly feed into my digestive system, so I don't have to eat any more. And because they don't have taste buds, I don't get bored eating boring things, so it's easier to stick to a diet."
"What are you feeding them then?" asked Xoggie, continuing to back away. Clytie seemed oblivious, and kept on advancing.
"No, they're feeding me, silly. Well, I was trying just plaster and paper at first, but it turns out that that's kind of hard to excrete, so I had to stop–"
"You stood too close to a wall and they tried to eat it," said Xoggie. "I know you too well, Clytie. You'd never dream of eating wallpaper if there was an éclair anywhere nearby."
Clytie stamped her foot, causing all the cilia to shiver and jiggle suggestively. Xoggie shivered himself. "Damn, I was hoping you'd believe I was dieting," she said. "I didn't feel at all hungry though, but I think I shit a brick in the end. Literally."
Xogenes nodded, smiling despite the horror of the cilia.
"Well, now I don't stand still too much," said Clytie. "So that's helping with the weight-loss program too."
"How about sex?" Xogenes hadn't meant to ask the question, but it had been playing on his mind almost since he'd seen the cilia.
"Oh." Clytie looked a little downbeat at that point. "That's a bit tricky, the cilia always seem to be hungry. Jeffrey's a little... injured right now."
"Your cilia tried to eat your husband?"
"Just a little bit!"