Cauldron Anthology Issue 8: Untold Fortitude cauldronissue8changes - Page 17

The Things I’ve Eaten Caro line M ao It began when my husband locked me in the attic. He was displeased that I had learned to love anything that wasn’t him. For the first few days, he gave me soup—it saved him from having to give both water and food, killing two birds, or perhaps just one wife, with one stone—but when he realized that I didn’t love him any more than I had before he locked me up, he stopped coming to my door. So I relearned how to eat. At first, it was simple objects. The cabinets, the mattress frame. The window pane. When it hurt to take bites of them, I took all of my betrayal and pleading and used that to sharpen my teeth. It was a coping mechanism to stop the screams for help. If I screamed for help, I would be sacrificing the anger that I hoarded under the bed and gnawed at daily. When I had eaten away the window, I swallowed my engagement ring. Its jewel lodged in my throat, I learned to mimic birdsong so I could lure birds into the attic, where they were mes- merized by the moon-white gleam of my teeth even as I used it to snap their necks. Maybe then I could have grown wings. I could have gathered their bloodstained feathers and glued them to my back, and flown out the window. I could have chosen to continue singing, and become something jewel-voiced and delicate that my husband would have adored. But I had grown too large to fit through the window, and I knew from the lush gray fur sprouting from my skin that it wouldn’t be necessary. When finally my teeth had grown so long they cut into my tongue and I found myself leaving claw marks on the walls, I called for my husband. I told him I was sorry, and that I would never love anything else but him, and as I said this, under my bed came hissing, rattling noises that not even the song in my throat could hush. The moonlight in the gutted window was a wicked slash across the floor as my husband came upstairs, grum- bling that it was late and he’d been on the verge of sleep. The door opened, and he set his eyes on me. I opened my mouth so wide that my jewel fell out, soaked in blood and saliva, and I lunged. 17 Cauldron Anthology