All in Fiction

Buckshot

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.

Inhalants

The autopsy report is as follows:

EXTERNAL EXAMINATION: the body is that of a thirty-five-year-old female with no distinguishing physical marks or lesions.

INTERNAL EXAMINATION: The autopsy revealed there were three inches of standing water in her lungs.

Baba Yaga's Delaware Youth

When I wake up, the house is on human feet. I think at first that I must still be sleeping, dreaming about dropping from the sky into Where the Wild Things Are. Stranger dreams have happened after drinking too much, and we did drink a lot last night. Remember?

6 Things That Suddenly Matter

The dryer emits a shrill, rodent-style squeak that precedes a period of silence. The sound resembles the screech of a child before refusing to speak without intervention by specialists. Because the dryer is unlike our son, who requires a regimen of speech therapy in order to be appreciated by fellow mammals, I think we should stop paying pros and purchase a new one.

Shark Bites

My friend Jenny calls my scars “shark bites.” She says that’s what her trans friends call their scars. I had never heard that before, but I imagine the story I might tell: I was taking a surfing lesson because that’s what everyone does when they move to California. I paddled out beyond the break and I was waiting to catch a wave when, out of nowhere, this great white shark pops up and goes right for my tits. Chomp. Chomp. Like that, my breast tissue became chum, and that’s how I got these shark bites.

Pastoral

The smell of the powder they release in a pouf on our faces starts the alchemy, my third favorite scent. While getting our makeup done, Dave and I usually talk about our kids. He was such a kind man and his priorities were clear. His family came first and fucking came second.

Show Off

I grow boobs, I get my period, and I dump my boyfriend Christopher because he’s not a football player. My new boyfriend Sean has big muscles and I show him my boobs because he puts his hands around my waist in just the right way.

Bearproof

The game fit Texas rancher country: count cows, and whoever has the most at the final destination wins—but if a cemetery passes on your side, you start back at zero. Molly’d wanted to know whether a little graveyard in the side grounds of a church counted and I said of course and blew all the air out of my lungs through my nose.

knitting instructions for war work

I went through puberty twice. Late each time, each time assisted by medically prescribed hormones of various quantities and various kinds. Just as my doctors were finally satisfied that my voice was low enough, we set upon the task of raising it again. And again, like the first time, I found myself unwillingly, unpleasantly subjected to the endocrinal whims of the teenaged body.

The Serpent’s Daughter

Every human being, like every machine, was created to do something. Trains carry people over land, under sea; a fan moves air; an iron presses cloth; a mug holds tea. Likewise, a nursing mother makes milk, a doctor sews skin, a tailor sews clothes, a spy watches people, a philosopher thinks, a judge makes decisions, and Sister Mah prays. She prays all day the way some people hum while they knit or chew gum while they’re taking your order.

The Husband Doll

Arnie totally freaks. “It’s insane what women have to deal with these days,” he says, and rushes into our basement with a plan to fix it. He’s down there for two days straight. I know he’s busy because I can hear ’90s rock through the heater vent. His getting-shit-done music.

NIÑAS DEL FUEGO

My sister Amma used to say the borderlands is the place brown girls go to die when they have no reason left to live. They give themselves up to the fence like a burnt offering, body crumpled at its teeth, and await capture. I read somewhere that some animals will commit suicide—suffocate themselves or stop eating altogether—to escape captivity. I think it’s like that.

Basil

When I lived in the swamplands, rowing from one place to the next, I met the devil. The locals swear if you stick around there long enough, you see him. They say he’s tall, dark, red, with claws, with teeth; that one day you’ll feel him tapping your shoulder or tickling your ankle. So, you start to look for him in every toad that croaks, every crane that lands softly on a mossy shore beside you, every mosquito that buzzes past your ear.

Sins of Omission

On sábados you go to the playa in San Juan wearing only your underwear. You are a girl, but one with closely cropped short hair, and your chest has not yet discovered puberty, so going topless still proves to be socially acceptable. Or so you and your immigrant parents think.