It was not yet properly dawn, just a meager, swollen yellowish light, and the earth was wet and cold, full of tangled roots, rocks, and worms. The sewer rats had torn your toenails off ages ago as you clawed and scrapped your way through the mud. You had drunk your fill at the banquet hall, had leered at the servants while feasting on baskets of bloody shrimp. Now your body aches, and you feel the hours poisoning your mind. Someone had covered your naked flesh with a quilt sewn of misty roses, misery, and clouds, but you can’t remember who had done it or when. Was it before the chanting, or after?
You just can’t remember, the candles fractured heat had long been spent, and there you lie, a languid image struggling against the dawn.
I had finished with you.
Finished with us.
I was tired of swallowing water every time I breathed you in.
The gravel had left its hateful memory on my face and my chest, but I continued heaving dirt into the hole with my bare hands as lightning split the sky off in the unthinkable distance.
It was nothing like yesterday.
I’d stayed too long, trying to make amends, your corpse stinking and rotting in the heat of the sun surrounded by a field of pastel trifles, your melancholia and your lapses of time and reason set to the baleful librettos of Wagner still fresh in your mind, or rather, what was left of it after the meat cleaver.
You’d lied to me. Tricked me into thinking I was a lady, but my cunt is just as rotted as my liver and my kidneys and my heart. Why do women have to fight to find their place? That was often how the conversation started, just as often as I’d find myself standing naked in front of the mirror, poking and prodding the mental and physical gelatine with all manner of tricky questions and even more complicated and elaborate answers. Supermodel, souvenir, or sex crime? What was I really … To you? The absence was never visible, you see, no matter which way I turned or which dark, musky crevice I exposed to the light.
You liked to pretend you didn’t notice me noticing you noticing how worn out I’d become. You smiled like you liked it when I called myself your wife, your lover, and your friend, but I was nothing more than a used up trollop with a bit of coin, gorging myself on sulky sweet-buttered smiles and secrets. Oh, but I had a secret for you. I’d made the pate myself from the cyanide poisoned rats I’d been collecting in the basement of your house. The house I wasn’t supposed to know you have, on the side, with her.
I took those cooking lessons you suggested: a little garlic, a pound of bacon, some sweet heavy cream, and just a pinch of pepper and sea salt. I’d wrapped it up real fancy, told you it cost a small fortune. You’d brought candles and cheap wine. Kept licking the hairy meat off your lips while telling me it was the best you had ever tasted. You’d often said the same about me when you flayed my flesh three times a week in the dark. Oh yes, lover, you liked the look and feel of contentment — suck my cock, you said, like it was an aperitif — but you didn’t look that way now. The black winged beggars had picked you starving and miserable. I know I shouldn’t have left you there. I thought no one had seen, but they had, and they came for you at dawn and at dusk, a swirling obsidian mass of hunger, hypnotized by your bulging bloodshot eyes.
By Cheryl Anne Gardner