Dwindling twilight; a summer breeze. He hands her a chilled glass of wine. She smiles, thanks him, sips the dry fruity liquid and blushes. He returns the smile, sips from his own glass and looks out over the lapping water of the bay. Taking her hand, her leads her down the steps, across the patio and opens the gate leading to the surf. Slipping off her shoes, she steps through the gate and onto the cooling sand. He follows. Hand in hand they stroll to the water’s edge. Leaning down, he places a chaste kiss upon her forehead, her cheek, her moistened lips. They walk in silence, letting the water caress their ankles.
Rounding the tip of the inlet, the water is much more aggressive, the waves coming ashore with more force. The open ocean lies before them. They’ve always dreamed of sailing away together, escaping the drudgery of day to day life and living as nomads on the sea. They walk for what seems hours, both glasses long since drained, both sets of feet tiring of the sand. She smiles in the moonlight and nods the way they came, indicating they return home. Never one to deny her, he smiles his agreement. They turn, begin the trek back; the tide is coming in. She veers towards the gentler sand; he tightens his grip, holding her in place. She glances up, sure he has misread her cue. His face is shadowed, but seems harder, less indulgent. She tries to pull her hand free; he doesn’t allow it. He draws her further into the water; she tugs back, still believing he is playing. The moonlight slants across his face; she sees no mirth in his smile, but an ugliness she didn’t know existed. She begins to panic; he drags her toward the undertow. Being the stronger swimmer, he doesn’t fear the water at night; he relished the fight of the high tide. She swims only when the sea is calm, terrified of the unseen depths. Waves begin to crash over them; she sputters, he grins. Turning with an iron grip on her wrist, he drags her out into the inky blackness.
Eight days crawl by; he still clutches the swim trunks the police believe he was wearing the night he returned home, unable to find her. The detective sits on the opposing deck chair, tells him there is nothing more they can do. He begs, he weeps; he pleads for them to understand she would never enter the water at night alone. The detective understands, is sympathetic, but must still inform him they are declaring her lost at sea. The only item found thus far is her swimsuit that washed ashore. He identified it himself she reminds him. He is shattered, a broken man, the love of his life lost. The detective apologizes once more and excuses herself. The police presence withdraws from his home, his life, his world. He is the affluent one; there is no reason to suspect foul play. There wasn’t even a life insurance policy to question; she never had one. Playing the part of the grieving widower, he ceremoniously lays her to rest at sea; friends mourn his loss.
Three months later, he sails into port; she waits for him in the lavish bungalow they purchased on the French island of Réunion. They’ve had no contact in the months between. For two estranged lovers, it has been an eternity. They reunite; he pours each a glass of wine; she asks if there was suspicion. He tells her of his hysterics, burying his wife at sea, the long journey to reach the island. She asks again if he was suspected of having a hand in his wife’s death. He laughs as he answers that while he did indeed have exactly that – a hand in his wife’s death – they never suspected a thing. She asks how that could be. He smiles, places his wine on the table and cups her face while reassuring her the plan was flawless. Convincing her older sister to marry him, then gift him her wealth was a stroke of genius; it placed him above reproach and set them up to share a lifetime of extravagance. She’s the one he loves. The wedding; a ruse.
She smiles in return; she’s been swimming these waters for quite a while. She knows which underwater caves have air pockets, and which don’t.
~ Nina D’Arcangela
© Copyright Nina D’Arcangela. All Rights Reserved.
I crouch cowering in the shadows of the barn. I should not be here, I was asked to stay away yet I could not.
The unnatural sound of bone snapping, sinew tearing, and skin stretching is a thing so foreign that it rends my soul to shreds. Yet for all the breath left in me, I cannot turn away from this creature I see.
I should have respected his wishes and not intruded upon his privacy – one so warily guarded till this day. Trust is what I offered blindly for so long; now I see that my trust was both justly placed and unspeakably abused.
The depth of sorrow that emanates from eyes I have so often peered into is more than one should have to bear. I now know why he asked to own this anguish in solitude, I now know why he felt a need to protect me from the torture of his full nature; I now know the extent to which he wished to guard my innocence.
He suffers in pain; my heart weeps. I reach out to touch him, he begs me stay away with his gaze; so longing, so loving, so final.
Struck by a rising terror I’ve not felt before, my soul screams that he is no longer mine but belongs solely to the night. If only I had not violated our trust, we would have been as one forever.
Fully morphed, yet still I see him. He turns one final time – his eyes saying all his misshapen mouth is no longer capable of speaking. A blink; he is gone.
Rushing forward I see all that remains, rough hair twisted upon a nail, while I listen to his baleful cry carried upon the night’s savage wind.
~ Nina D’Arcangela
© Copyright Nina D’Arcangela. All Rights Reserved.
Soft granules shift with each step as I walk the sandy strip. They ease between my toes, slide over my sandaled feet; leave a rim of grit around each nail-bed. A favored place, this swing. During the day, it basks in the full cast of sun’s light; at night, it hides in the coolness of evening’s deepest shadow. A place to laugh, to steal a kiss, perhaps a first touch… Hallowed ground made sacred by whispered promises broken only by those foolish enough to make them.
I sit. The ropes stretch taut, the plank groans beneath me as the swing gently begins to sway. My mind wanders, time passes; my thoughts fill with remembrance of you. The shade of the tree swallows me as day turns to dusk and dusk quickly flees before night. The image of you with another beneath our swing flashes by; my rage no less tempered with time. I kick my sandals aside, dig my toes deep into the soft sand. I reach for you. I know you’re there, you promised you always would be, a promise I saw kept with pickax and spade. The only blight on our perfect evening… the cunt that lies dead beside you, but I can look past that and enjoy our time together, if only in my mind.
~ Nina D’Arcangela
© Copyright Nina D’Arcangela. All Rights Reserved.
“It’s the complex.”
“Yeah, I know it’s the complex, but why should I have to foot the bill?”
She glances over at her partner with a baffled expression. “What the hell are you talking about?”
Taken aback, and literally leaning back against the car door, he responds tersely, “She got diagnosed with a complex, my wife. Ain’t you been listening? Some anxiety bullshit that the doc’s say means she don’t have to work no more. And ya know what that means? It means I gotta foot the bill for everything. The house, the god damned private school, fancy label cloths for her and the little princess, days at the spa to calm her nerves. Her nerves, fuck me. And don’t even get me started on the after-school activities…”
“Charlie, I was talking about the complex, the one we’re parked in front of doing our job. You know, ‘The Complex’ – read the friggin sign. And besides, if you didn’t want to deal with her kid, you shouldn’t have married a single mother.”
Glancing up, Charlie responds with his usual enlightening, “Oh.”
Samantha, breathing deeply, does her best to stay calm. Being saddled with Charlie is like having an idiot child of her own to manage. After releasing her death grip on the steering wheel, she tries to reason with him again. “Focus, Chuck. We’ve been sitting here day after day and nothing weird has happened, right?”
“Nothing weird ‘sept that two other people went missing in broad daylight. Speakin’ of broads, you know that bitch had the gall to ask me where we was going on vacation this year?”
Ignoring his personal drama, Sam steers the conversation back to the relevant topic. “That’s my point. There are only two ways in or out of the condominium complex, and we’ve got a car stationed at both 24/7 yet no one has seen anything funny. Not on our shift, not the other shifts, so two more people going missing from in there,” she points at the condos, “is weird. It’s got be the complex.” She chews her nail while working it over in her head.
Charlie slurps from his Big-Gulp. “So what – you think someone’s been draggin’ full size bodies out on foot? That ain’t possible. There’s an eight foot fence surrounds the whole place. It’d never happen. And we already did a sweep of all the homes, ain’t nobody hiding no bodies in there.”
Encouraged, Sam continues. “Right! That’s what I mean. We know they’re not in there, and we know they never exited, so what’s left? Have you ever heard of the phenomenon where someone is a block from home, but just can’t get there?”
“Wha? You mean like they fell and hit their head and wandered off. Come on, Sammy. Don’t tell me you buy into that freakin’ weirdo bullshit about other dimensions and roads that go nowhere crap.”
“So you have heard about it? Why not here, why not now? It would explain what’s going on.”
Shaking his head yet refusing to make eye contact, he scoffs, “Look, I see that shit on the covers of trash rags in the check-out line at the Piggly-Wiggly, it don’t make it real.”
They both spot their relief car rolling to a stop behind them as Charlie finishes. “Look, Sam, you got a lot a years ahead of you in blue yet. Why don’t you leave the detecting to the detectives and keep your nose clean, huh?”
Incredulous, her head swings in his direction; she catches sight of the passenger from the other squad car walking up to theirs, the late afternoon sunlight glints off the metal on his uniform.
Charlie rolls down his window and they exchange pleasantries before he reports that there hasn’t been anything out of the ordinary going on.
Unwilling to be stifled, she tells the other officer they’re going to take a quick cruise through the complex, make sure everything’s quiet inside as well. Both men share a look, the patrolman standing outside the car nods, taps the roof in acknowledgment, then walks back to his own vehicle.
Before Charlie can protest, she swings the Suburban in an arc and pulls up to the gated entry. After clearing the guard station, she tells Charlie to get out his pen and notepad, and to write down the turns they make including the street names. He gives her a bogus salute with his middle finger extended.
She pulls forward on Gateway Drive, makes the first right onto Jackson, a left onto Hamilton, then a right onto Dumont. She pulls over and puts the SUV in park. Turning to her partner, she asks, “You get all that?”
With a dramatic sigh, he nods, “Yup. Right onto Jackson, left onto Hamilton, right onto Dumont. What now, do ya wanna’ rouse the poor folks living at number eleven over here and accuse them of hidin’ bodies?” he mocks as he points over his shoulder with the butt of the pen.
“Humor me on this one, will you?” she says as she makes a three-pointer. “Okay, so heading back out…”
“Yeah, yeah, I got it. Left onto Hamilton, right onto Jackson, left onto Gateway. Let’s get this little show of yours over with.”
She follows the reverse directions to a T as he reads them aloud at each intersection. “Left onto Hamilton… right onto Jackson… left onto – what the fuck? Where the hell did Gateway go? Did you make a wrong turn?”
They were staring down a dead-end street with the same pleasantly gray sided, white trimmed attached homes as every other street in the complex, but this one had no outlet, and no street sign.
Looking confused and a little pissed that she’d tricked him, Charlie grunts, “Fuck this. Bang a U-ey, we’re going back to Dumont and staring over.”
She backtracks to Dumont and stops in front of number eleven. Charlie, scratching his ear, is looking at the directions on his pad. “What was the name of that street we was on when we turned around?”
“It had no sign, we both know it didn’t.” The snark in her voice was enough to set him off.
“Just turn the fucking car around and let’s do this again,” he shouts. “And this time, don’t fuck it up.”
“You got it boss. Call out the directions and I promise you I won’t turn unless you tell me to.”
“Go to the corner, make a left onto Hamilton. Good, now go to the next cross street, make a right onto Jackson. A-huh, okay, now just up ahead, we should be making a left onto Gateway. What the mother-fuck? How the hell did we screw that up again? Wait, let me think. Curb us for a sec.” She does as he asks.
After a few moments of quiet contemplation, he hands her the notebook and says, “You’re the genius here, you tell me what we did wrong.”
She looks down at the pad, “We didn’t do anything wrong, we followed the route back perfectly.”
He explodes, “Then why the fuck are we on this cock-sucking dead-end street again?” After a couple of heaving breaths, he takes the pad back and does another mental run.
“Okay, I think I know where we screwed up. Let’s go back to eleven Dumont and this time we’ll get it right.”
Silently, she retraces their route. As she pulls onto Dumont, she stops at number thirteen.
Fear, disguised as aggravation, shows on his face, “What are you doing? Why didn’t you stop at eleven? We gotta do this exactly the same way,” he emphasizes each syllable by slapping his fist onto the pad.
She quietly whispers, “Look around.”
He twists left and right, seeing all the identical buildings for what they are – identical, except for the numbers. Five, seven, nine, thirteen.
“What the fuck? Where is number eleven? Okay, now I know you’re fuckin’ with me. You got Linsey in on this. He’s out there fuckin’ with the numbers while we’re driving around or somethin’. I knew he looked at you funny when we was on the street. Get out. Go on, get out of the fucking car. I’m driving.”
With an exasperated sigh, she opens her door and steps out. Charlie nearly knocks her over scrambling into the driver’s seat. Before slamming the door, he barks for her to get her ass in the car or he’s leaving without her.
With Charlie driving, they take the same route again, this time the final left puts them onto a long street with a single right hand turn at the end. “Ha!” Charlie croaks. “See, I told ya you was doing somethin’ wrong.”
“Yeah, but Chuck, this isn’t…”
Grinning tensely from ear to ear, he cuts her words off clean. “I don’t give a shit what it isn’t, as long as it ain’t that fucking dead-end again.” He nervously scrubs at his brow. “So we got twisted around somewhere, shit happens. All these places look the same, don’t sweat it.” Charlie makes the right at the end of the street.
“What the fuck? Ain’t no fuckin’ way this is the same dead-end.”
“Hey, you think we should radio in about Sam and Chuck?” Lindsey asks the other officer sitting behind the wheel of their cruiser.
“Nah, I’m sure they’re long gone by now, it’s been hours. They probably ducked out the back when those dip shits assigned to the rear gate were off taking a wiz together. You know how nervous rookies get pulling an all-nighter on a case like this. Relax, have another beer.”
∼ Nina D’Arcangela
© Copyright 2016 Nina D’Arcangela. All Rights Reserved.
Slashed open in a fit of uncontrolled rage, my gouged and bleeding thigh is nothing but ravaged flesh; it is the thrill of his attention upon me that is beyond compare. As my blood races, he hears it pulse; as my body quivers, he feels it vibrate; as my mind screams, he hears it echo through his own damaged being. He is ever present – this beast, this creature, this untamed demon that stalks me. Believing me no match for the power his darkness wields, he has been gentle with me till now, wishing not to frighten me with what he truly believes himself to be.
Clawed arm raised to strike again, his breathing is heavy, as labored as my own; his from restraint, mine from fear and desperate longing. He pauses, his hard stare boring into that of my own, gauging if I go willingly or as that of a cowering fool who knows nothing of what she asks of this dark madness. In his eyes I see a confusion of longing coupled with the enamored glee of wanting, an unsure knowledge that he has finally found what he has been seeking; acceptance.
This shatters the final piece of me.
My choice made, I bare my soul with complete submission in the hope of receiving his mark and my eternal salvation; the death of one dim existence, the birth of yet another. I sense still the indecision with which he watches me, unsure if this is to be allowed, or yet another cruel joke in a life fraught with pain, agony, and harsh deception. Do I genuinely offer what I promise? His eyes beg to know. This most gentle of beasts that shall rend me to pieces in a glory of blinding insanity.
His choice yet to be made, my only option to nurture it. I see what lurks behind his mask, I shall not shy from it. I will forever choose to embrace it, though the beast believes it still hides itself behind his reflection.
For now, I shade the glistening pools that reflect all I see at the expense of my own damnation. I wish only to belong to this coupling; though my wish is of little consequence, he’ll take what he will and leave the rest to rot in its own undignified remains.
© Copyright Nina D’Arcangela. All Rights Reserved.
I pound my torn fists against the sides of this box, but the effort is useless – there is no escaping oneself. Scratching, clawing, chewing a splinter I manage to create in my mad scrambling does no good; I simply ravage myself further. Bloody and raw, I fill with a pressure that threatens to burst from my haggard being, further tainting this polluted soul.
There is no escape from the crushing weight of my prison. I beg to be saved from the anguish in which I languor; but there is no salvation, not for me; not for one so undeserving, uncherished, unloved. There is only the false glimmer of light, one my inner demon allows me to glimpse for his enjoyment and my unrelenting torture.
Scuffed, scrapped, tattered and torn, a thing not palatable to another, I slide to my knees; a pile of rent flesh brutalized by the walls surrounding me. I clutch at the only thing I have left, a scrap of sanity, but my fingers… they no longer close. A wail erupts from my stricken lungs; my raw throat bellows a croon no one will ever hear.
My demon laughs; he finds my anguish a great delight. I am a toy to be played with, a thing of distraction, a means to pass the eternity in which he will dwell within me. I cannot escape him, though I try – all the more to his amusement. He watches me struggle in futility, basks in the restriction of breath that bands my burning lungs. He hears my silent shriek of agony, licks the salty tears that streak my filth-ridden face. He is my tormentor, he is my keeper, he is my salvation – though he shall never grant it.
The walls of this box are by now a forest of splinters; it matters not where I lay for comfort, I find none – there is only jagged surface to be sought here. This prison so impenetrable, no other shall ever glimpse it, nor shall I ever be released from it. I have no false hope, only a fool would hope for mercy from such a thing. Though I am a fool, I am not that fool…
Awash in a pool of my own shattered dreams, I find no blame other than mine to own. My demon chuckles as he reminds me this box is of my own design, made impregnable by my own failings.
Yet still, I rub my ragged and blood caked palm along the shreds of wall hoping to find the smallest fissure, a mere crack, any sign that can offer even the falsest of hope that someday I will break free – but there is none. There never has been.
In this box, I see my deepest desires turn to dust; my most cherished dreams die; my fate sealed forever. I find my demon observing my anguish, relishing the unending torture of my most exquisite pain. Here, I am me – I am this quivering thing that lies upon the floor begging for a mercy that will never come; beseeching my demon for a small measure of what others are granted, but I shall never have. I am destined to scrape and scratch and gnaw at this unyielding pen that is minuscule in breadth, yet without end.
Why will it not swallow me and put to rest this pathetic shadow of my former self? Consume me, I beg of it, but it will not. What use am I to the box if it has no grief from which to feed; no pain left to color its darkened walls; no feather to pluck while my remnants jerk in concert?
My demon wants me locked in this box for an eternity, perhaps because it seeks the same as I do – a measure of level tolerance. It lives a lone existence, my demon, though I believe it was meant to, whereas I am meant for more. I am meant to be free from this punji-ridden hell of despair…
Another false hope I harbor; another path to mental decay I shall have to avoid for as long as I can. One more shattered reality in a world filled with tightly sealed boxes. Yet without these boxes, would I not be only an empty shell? Another harsh reality to be born on the back of so many others I wish were not mine. But the lie told that all is just, is just that – a lie. With each whispered falsehood the box containing my soul shrinks further, the desperate pitch of my moaning crescendos grander, the laughter of my demon grows stronger; a promise that one day, I will succumb to this crippling madness.
~ Nina D’Arcangela
© Copyright 2015 Nina D’Arcangela. All Rights Reserved
Why must I feel so utterly shattered when smashed upon your jagged edge? Why can you not let me fall into the beautifully delicious pain that exists inside you – pain that has been waiting for me to find it for so very long? You hide such an exquisitely luring anguish from me, thinking I cannot see it – but I see it with my very essence – my entire being; I see it in the blink of your depthless eyes even when not at your side; I feel it in every breath you draw whether that breath be taken roughly in my ear or drawn in a spat of anger at all the world has made of you. I long so desperately to be near you, to revel in your darkest pangs, your deepest wounds, your most hidden crevasses where your shadows stretch the longest.
My soul is no longer in my own keeping as it has already been fully engulfed by you – it is given with utter bliss and unhindered submission, bowing to your every whim and fancy. My pain is yours to have, my pleasure yours to give or withhold. I beg of you to open your shadowed darkness and let me submerge myself, gulping it in as though it were my own life’s breath; for it is, as I cannot be without you any longer.
Give to me all that I would allow you to take from one so undeserving as I. I offer you a glimpse of the salvation you have sought at only the cost of my own damnation. Why must you hide in a darkness you feel is precious only to you? My darkness is equal to that of yours and calls out in pain to touch, to merge, to become one with that mournful depth which dwells within you.
Ahhh, tears burn my eyes to think of the ecstasy that awaits the lost such as we. Am I never to attain such glorious freedom while you exist in your own self-imposed exile? Be all to me that your inner demon demands I be to you, suffocate me with your needs; for I need not the air I breathe so much as I need the nearness of the beast that rages within you. Your touch, your embrace, your longing – your anger, your angst, and your pain; these things are my gleaming gems, my most sacred desires – the currency of an aching soul unearthed from the roughest of stone I did not know existed before you.
Drag me into an eternity of damnation where I will languish in your exquisite tenderness… a tenderness that rends my heart to pieces and releases the overwhelming restraint I have kept in check for what seems all of time. Strip away my mask and bare my most inner desires that I am not able to unleash with any other than you. Take me farther into the reaches of madness that will consume what is left of my sanity for I need not think when you are near, I must only be.
This is my treasured wish; this is my undisguised want; this is what you have made of me. Be for me, as I am only for you…
© Copyright 2015 Nina D’Arcangela. All Rights Reserved
The ground below your delicately formed feet begins to shift, sending you tumbling to within a breath’s width of the insanity you know awaits you should you ever truly fall; you struggle to maintain your hold – a hold that for eons has treated you so kindly, so reverently, so graciously. You suckle and gasp for that earlier delight that still echos through your now destroyed body. This gaping new view of the emptiness you see around you leaves you wondering which part of this horror-scape is to be accepted as a horror of your own making, and which part is far too horrible to be allowed existence any longer. How does one go about choosing their individual horror without having a previous grasp of their own tenuous reality? A reality stroked so gently; consumed so fully; torn to pieces in such an eloquent display of cruelty… naive, silly girl, you never did pay attention to anything other than your own wants – why did you not heed the danger when you still had the chance to do so?
Existence in this newly scorched reality is – other. You breathe in the foul tainted air, retching vile fluids from your own rotting organs while desperately reaching for handfuls of once moist, rich soil; the soil that continually sifts through your small clutching fingers; for you cannot hold what is no longer there. You weep for a blanket to shroud you from the view of your newly exposed self.
Can you no longer feel the gentle caress of the sun’s offered warmth? Have you, like the insignificant creatures that feed from your lush womb, begun to shrivel under his now harsh and ever seeking glare? No, not you; for you will offer yourself to this beast who brings the searing pain only to weep at its feet while its brilliance burns you from within; laying to waste the wretched thing that you are. You will seek to undo this cruel fortune that has been bestowed upon you, but in that seeking, you will yourself be undone. You are a creature of will, one foolish enough to forgo turning your face from the ever increasing blindness the searing light brings; you are a creature that believes herself to be the worst of all things in his eyes… worthy.
This all consuming brightness, this overwhelming luminescence, this addictive, abusive wave that pounds its putrid nourishment into you – how you will suffer for it… begging for his mercy, a mercy that he does not pretend to offer, but you will beg nonetheless… and in doing so, you will try to rise upward; growing closer to the light believing yourself to be his equal – this giver of all things; this taker of pure souls. But your soul is not pure, is it? Your soul is tainted by the ecstasy of existence. You, who have fed off the offal that has been lain down upon the altar before you; you, who have sipped from the chalice with the proffered blood of those baring no shame, the untainted, the yet to be ripened; you, who have ripped the meat from the bones of the small bleating sheep with your bared teeth and ragged claws as it lay there staring up at you with trusting, unknowing eyes. All the while, glorious creature that you are, you feel nothing; not an ounce of remorse for your glutenous act of satisfaction, feasting on the dying embers of the slowly dwindling soul before you.
The feathered one who tainted the sweet nectar – the devourer of forbidden fruit – the selfish wretch who cannot exist without consuming the flesh of the gentle, the deserving; you are these things and more. You are the speaker of lies – muttering those sacred and meaningless words while they are being whispered every so seductively into your own arrogant and self-indulgent ear. You are the reason the soil shall burn; you are the reason the soil is already burning.
You are a thing not worthy of worship, though you have had much of it, but now the beast has come to set you to rights; your penance shall be to worship him with the blind devotion you once commanded for yourself.
© Copyright Nina D’Arcangela. All Rights Reserved
Oh, what a lovely selection this year! Such cute little bunnies. Each with a cherubic face: round rosy cheeks, tiny pink lips, glistening wide eyes. I don’t know where to begin… I suppose I’ll just pluck one at random – what fun this will be.
They seem to grow uncomfortable when I try to coax the first one toward me. I don’t want to frighten them; don’t they know how I love my precious bunnies? I suppose the fidgeting and jostling should be expected as my impatience drives me to grab the first boy and drag him forward. Calming myself, I reach back in time and recall my grandmother’s instructions from when I myself was a youth.
“Everyone knows you start with the eyes. Nibbling them off the face is the first step. Then the ears. Yes, the ears. You begin on the right, taking small bites until you reach the crown – but don’t crack it! Breaching the skull at this point would be unforgivable!” She would say with mock exaggeration. Giggling, we would begin peeling back the foil wrapper together. “Next, it’s the legs. Nibble, nibble, nibble! Once you reach the torso, it’s time for a final sugary treat – the bow tie. When I was a girl, I ate all the parts off my bunnies first, and then I would line up their leftover bodies to be devoured later!” She would always tickle me when she reached this part of the story.
The din of screaming children is a faint echo compared to the bliss of such a treasured memory. As my eyes open, I see the other bunnies gathered in the corner, scrambling and clawing at one another to climb out of their pen. Silly bunnies! You can’t get out… the wall is much too high, I chortle to myself. Then I notice the change – tears streak their once placid faces; their formerly rosy cheeks are now blotchy and rouged an ugly red. Both saddened and angered, I turn my attention back to the one I’m holding. I realize he’s squirming and shoving against my hand to be set free. My previous jubilant mood is beginning to sour. Why are they ruining this for me? Selfish little bunnies!
In my anger, I must have shaken him too hard – the little bunny is no longer struggling; blood is trickling from his open mouth; his body dangles slack in my grip. Another special day ruined. How I miss my gram and the delicious bunnies she would bring me; now I’m forced to collect my own. Glancing toward the corner, I see a few have given up and are sitting on the floor sobbing. The cacophony of terrified wails from the others has grown in volume and pitch. I wonder if gram was wrong. I wonder if I should set these bunnies free; they really are adorable, after all. Then I look down at the one dangling from my hand. A small smile begins to creep its way across my face. I’m a good boy; I deserve these bunnies.
Everyone knows you start with the eyes…
~ Nina D’Arcangela
© Copyright 2014 Nina D’Arcangela. All Rights Reserved.
It moved! I swear on my mother’s grave I saw it move! Glancing up, I scan the faces surrounding the table trying to determine if anyone else saw the jerking motion. No one seems to have noticed; they’re all laughing and drinking, chattering away happily while waiting to be fed.
I blink a few times to clear my eyes. I’ve been working too hard lately, putting in too many hours, that’s all. I raise the carving knife and fork once more, preparing to plunge them into the bird trussed before me. It fucking moves again! This time with an accompanying slopping sound. A bead of sweat breaks out on my upper lip; my wife is staring at me hesitantly. With both hands now resting on either side of the beast, I take a few slow, deep breaths to calm my overwrought nerves. A slight nudge comes from my right. It’s my wife, a strained smile on her face; she nods toward the foul creature. I nod back.
Bringing the arm with the fork up, I dab at the dew above my lip and make an off-hand comment about it being roasting in here. Everyone laughs. A small shake of my head, I exhale and raise the knife once again to begin slicing the meat. As the gleaming instruments near the platter, I hear a voice in my head. ‘Go on ya piss-ant piece of shit – cut me open. Show everyone what a big man you are and gut me. Gut me like you gutted your wife when the doctor told her there was no physical reason you couldn’t get it up. Ya don’t have the balls to stick it to her, and you don’t have the balls to stick it to me either!’
What the fuck? My knees nearly buckle and my wife reaches out to steady me. I jerk my arm away. The room grows quiet, the tension nearly palpable. I toss out another remark meant as a joke; the responding chortle is terse, fraught with unease. My wife is no longer smiling; she looks worried. I try to reassure her with a smile of my own, but a bare shake of her head lets me know she’s not buying it. ‘Ya know, she doesn’t have any faith in you anymore, right? She was expecting to marry a man, and look what she got – you! She knows about Terry, too.’ I almost utter a response but choke on my own spittle instead. ‘Yeah, that’s right. She knows you’re sticking it to that bitch from work. She knows you been doin’ it for the past month when all you’re bringin’ home is that limp fish in your pants, she just doesn’t wanna ruin this family get-together-thing. Your ass is outta here as soon as they’re gone, buddy!’
Sure that I’m pale as a ghost, I lean on the table for support once more. My head hanging, limbs trembling; the nervous tick of the fork tapping against a glass the only sound in the nearly silent room. My wife reaches over again and lays a hand on my forearm. I lash out to shove her away, forgetting that I’m holding the carving knife. We stare at one another in shock for a heartbeat before her body crashes forward into the china, her throat sliced ever so neatly from side to side. As the crimson of her blood mixes with the pumpkin colored hue of her favorite tablecloth, a slight gurgling is all that resounds. I look on in horrified disbelief, then one of the children lets out an ear-piercing screech. The demon starts again, ‘Ha! Look what you…’
I begin stabbing it with the fork, maniacally ripping it to bits while screaming incoherently. Everyone in the room is staring at me like I’ve gone insane. I try to explain about the turkey… about not realizing I was still holding the knife… about the pressure I’ve been under… but there isn’t a sympathetic eye to be found. ‘You know what you have to do, don’t ya? If you don’t, they’ll lock you up in the loony bin again.’ An icy cold sheet of acceptance washes over me as I move to the doorway, blocking my teenage brother-in-law from escaping.
I was really hoping this family would be different, not like the last…
~ Nina D’Arcangela
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