There’s something endlessly pathetic about waking up to the same future every day. Something grotesque about opening your eyes, looking up at whatever ceiling you’re under, and being able to say where you’ll be in five minutes. Five days. Five years.
Where I’ll be is all mapped out on a calendar and stamped inside my head, each and every step of my life sectioned out neatly in a row of dates and milestones. Bunni is a representative of the Tivah family, and then she’s a representative of the Tivah family, and then she’s a representative of the Tivah family…
Here, the girl stands with marks across her back. They’re new, crisp in their unplanned design, and they echo when you look too long. The marks dig deep into pockets of flesh, the skin sucking into gashes too large to be quickly searched. You cannot see the marks without staring, and staring isn’t recommended.
Each pocket digging deep into ribs and breaking through to a heart is inhuman.
“We found six dead. She ate two. The beast is trying to escape her body, we believe.” Here, they murmur.
Here, they ask what happens to let the beast in. And the…
We don’t talk about the bouquets much.
Oswald wore them in his hair when we were kids. When we found the bodies, he had a full head of roses and daisies, all expertly arranged by his mother. She fussed over him, really. The shy boy ate to the sounds of that woman hissing and fumbling over his every move.
Embarrassed for him, I stared at my plate when she piled food onto his, looked around their massive old Tudor home when she pulled his ears, fussing about wax, hid my face in prayer when she pulled dried skin off his…
Bunni held my head, and I could taste every part of her in my mouth. Every single inch of her that my tongue wet — every single inch — sat flavorful. Her tongue soaked down to my jaw. Her hands traveled down my stomach, teased the top of my pants, and I had to stop her before I was no longer able.
“There’s not much time,” I whispered, trying not to hear my own wheezing. She nodded, her lips rubbing against my neck.
“Tell me about us, Bosque. Don’t leave anything out. I want you to tell me…
Astor snored lightly. I laid on her breasts, one bare leg pulled over her, and pinched her sides until she swatted at my head. I wanted her to get up. She ignored me until I bit her nipple, baring down until her body jerked forward. She gasped, popping my forehead again. For a moment, I felt guilty, wondering if she’d have trouble breastfeeding Astrid if I bit her too hard.
Breastfeeding Astrid? She’s four. Right?
“Hit me again, girl,” I growled.
She let out a breathy laugh, covering her eyes with her arm. “What do you want?”
I wanted to…
Pt. 2: monstrosity
The night of the drowning, soaking wet but feeling like the most massive weight had been lifted from my chest, I ushered Noah around her office. There were towels and a change of clothes in the corner for me. Noah watched me dress without a word.
My body felt completely empty. Part of me was excited for some reason, exhausted and worn out but filled with a fantastic amount of energy, like a new piece had been added to my brain and I was thinking twice as fast. I managed to snap myself out of…
ALICIA FREE: 16
“The world is so small, Alicia. You see one person, and they’re actually another. You build your own community, and it’s actually just you.” Alicia’s father held her small hand as they watched the town burn. Crumbling, waves of heat distorting the shrunken bodies of their friends. She wanted to tell her mother to stop sobbing, to stop sucking in those deep breaths. It was their neighbors she was sucking into her lungs. Couldn’t she understand that?
Alicia followed her family to the car with shaky legs. There was nothing to be done for the town. No…
There’s one saying I live by. It’s something my momma used to tell me when she’d lay out my clothes in the morning for school.
“There is no such thing as benevolence, Jukel. If you’re starving with your friends and there’s one piece of food left, you’ll all reach for it. Doesn’t matter how close you are or how much they love you. You’ll kill each other for it.”
This was like her personal saying. …
Just because you can’t die doesn’t mean you won’t suffer. No one understands that better than I do. So I stay numb, and I stay calm, and I exist in a way others don’t. And I will for as long as I’m able. And my children will for as long as they’re able — whether we want to or not.
I remind myself of that as often as possible. And it still doesn’t make the emotional hurt any easier to bear. I can die and get up, maybe an infinite amount of times. I’m not sure. …
Panic is such an odd feeling. No matter how much you feel it, no matter how long you’ve drowned in it, you never properly adjust. Never. It becomes a different monster with each iteration, warping and mutating. It commits to swallowing you in a different way every time. This panic in me is old, but it never feels that way. The pressure varies, but I know a panic attack is coming on, sometimes hours before it actually does.
It’s a chronic pain.
The same panic sat in me and transformed itself through every waking moment that Osh didn’t…