• Vol. 09
  • Chapter 01

We, the Pumpkin-Eaters

After William has swallowed his ale with the powder I’ve mixed in, and fallen, snoring on the straw-filled pillow, I creep from the bed and wrap my shawl around my shoulders.

I cut through the night like a blade, nose leading me, seeking Cecilia. The cat pads after me, occasionally twining its tail around my ankles.

My clogs tap against the cobblestones; the fog hangs low and panting around my face.

The moon winks brightly, slipping in and out from behind gray clouds, seeming, at times, to bear down on me. The marbled surface looks like a hard jewel, like I could reach out and pluck, put between my teeth and crush into icy splinters.

I walk past the yellow of the sulfur lights, past the faint noises of men dropping their mugs on the cedar planks of the tavern, past old women snoring, babies coughing, and creep to the edge of town.

I make it to the pumpkin path, thick, glossy vines and vegetal air, and there, in the moonlight, is Cecilia. Her pale face, her long fingers.

We face each other, take in the frosty night air, let it stream from our mouths. We drop our shawls, let our cloaks slither to the ground, shed our black dresses. I catch the pale globe of her breast; she looks as I lick my lips.

We crouch, legs spread wide, and smash the pumpkins with rocks; they split easily and with a wet sound. We eat and eat, laughing, howling; I feel fur growing from my groin, up my belly, sprouting from my nipples in needle-thin crystals; it ridges my back; claws up my throat.


We, the Pumpkin-Eaters

In her haste, Cecilia eats a pumpkin stem, her eyes wide, her furred throat bulging with the effort. Finally, she swallows and wipes her wrist across her mouth.

A small boy wanders into the patch, and in my haste, I eat his leg off, stop myself when I’m at his knee. Run, I say, gnawing on his toe bone. He hops on one foot, scrabbling at the ground.

We stand, our bellies round as the pumpkins, throbbing and low-slung. Below us is the pond, brackish, dark as a latrine pit, and shaded with crepe myrtles. There, we can bathe undisturbed, let the moss brush against our thighs. Behind us lies the town, foggy and pinpricked with hopeful light. We cock our heads, pick the seeds and string from our teeth, and consider which way to go.