by Paul Cyrian Baltazar
I saw her in the woods earlier. I hid, speaking to her from behind a tree. My voice had already changed by then. She did not recognize me; thank God. Poor thing. So innocent. So dumb.
Now, as I stand in my garden waiting and dreading, I hope—I pray that I have done enough to keep her safe. I pray for the dark to frighten her. I pray she turns back before the night deepens.
My mind is going but my body feels stronger. As my old aches wane, so do my thoughts, leaving only urges that demand immediate and terrible satisfaction. Before I lose any more of myself, I run inside my house, locking myself in the cupboard.
There, I cry and rage and yell. Damn my husband’s soul to hell for bringing this misery on me! Damn my daughter for her kindness! Why did she send her? Why her?
From a chink in the wall, I see the clouds parting, revealing a moon white as bone. My sight sharpens. My hearing heightens. I can smell the rain—wet musk of fallen trees decaying somewhere in the woods. The night beckons and the hunger consumes me.
I know she has arrived even before she does. I break the cupboard’s lock and, donning a nightshirt, I leap into bed, hiding beneath the covers.
She presses the latch outside and enters the house, whistling. I smell the sweet stink of her sweat. I peek from behind my blanket and see the blood-red color of her cloak as she takes wine and cake from her basket and places them lovingly on my dining table.
That cloak.I made her that cloak.
My heart breaks even as my stomach grumbles. The girl approaches and sits by my side. Her smile falters upon seeing my face.
“Why, grandmother,” she says, “what big eyes you have!”
(this is dedicated to and inspired by Angela Carter and the unique way she re-tells fairy tales)