My husband—he’s a butcher—and he brings home the best meats. Livers, he likes those best. And he watches me slice them into long strips. I cook them up for him and I skin potatoes and other vegetables, put them in a pot and let the juices run together. He doesn’t lick his lips because he’s not an animal, he says. Says animals belong in a pot. He’s a man, he says. Just a man. A man who has an affinity for bloody meats and buckshot. He took a round in the leg when his brother was playing with a gun, but with the safety off. He’s got nine little scars to prove it. I count them sometimes. They are a constellation I call Buckshot. I look for it in the stars, even on starless nights. Even with the moon at half-mast.
He doesn’t like to tell the story to anyone, but he likes to tell me stories. Likes the way my face shows exactly what I’m thinking. Like what kind of feeling is blowing through me. He likes the way I look when we fuck. Likes how I let him do what he wants. That I don’t ask him to stop. That he can handle me like he does raw meat. He’s tender, though. Easy to bite.
He’s tender, though. Easy to bite.
He won’t let me go hunting with him. Says that’s too dangerous after what he’s seen in the woods.
Him and his brother go out every morning and look for tracks. Look for the thing. See if it’s been loping around near the house. His brother came to live with us before it happened. Like he had some sixth sense. Like he knew a thing was coming.
I don’t like his brother. I don’t like how he walks with a slight limp or sometimes when he’s standing under the shady tree outside he looks like my husband. I don’t like that his smile makes me forget about the limp. I asked him if he took buckshot in his leg too and he said, No, I was born wrong. Born upside down. Just all the way wrong.
My husband said his brother had the sight. That he was the only one who could see the thing. That the thing was the reason why I’d bled that night a few months ago. Blood had carried our baby out in clots that stained his momma’s quilt. He still won’t say the word. He won’t say miscarriage. He hung the quilt up on a flagpole for the thing in the woods to see. Said if the thing saw it, it would stay away. That a woman’s blood repelled it. That it was repulsed by women.
He hung the quilt up on a flagpole for the thing in the woods to see. Said if the thing saw it, it would stay away. That a woman’s blood repelled it. That it was repulsed by women.
Every morning I heard them shuffling around in the kitchen making coffee. Toast springing up out of the toaster. Spoons clinking against the inside of chipped mugs. The men moving around quietly without a word between them. Like the hands of a clock, they made revolutions around one another and ate in silence. And I watched them load their guns. They disappeared into the woods just before daybreak.
I wondered what they did out there. I imagined my husband with his stance low to the ground. Him and his brother becoming invisible men as they tracked. Looking for relics left behind. Searching for breadcrumbs. I imagined the thing circling them. That it was smarter than them. That it had only recently developed its taste for men.
I laughed at myself most mornings because I knew that thing wasn’t out there in the woods. I’d always thought that was just how men learned to love each other. With the cold metal of a gun pressed against their fingers and with their bodies moving in synchrony. I didn’t laugh at my husband to his face because in his mind the thing in the woods wasn’t made of imagination. There was no way something he’d fertilized with his seed could not come to maturity. That miscarriages were the work of creatures and not coincidence. So, I let him have this delusion if it kept the peace. If the house could remain quiet, I would not laugh at my husband. I would not tell him that sometimes when we fucked I thought he was his brother, because in the dark they felt the same. That I’d only recently developed a real taste for men.
alex terrell writes about the intersection between the mythic and the traumatic. In fiction, she is interested in exploring individuated Black experience, Black bodies, magical realism, Afro-futurism, and how women speak in silent spaces. She is currently exploring themes of water, the black body, and pathology.