'Pig' by Marybeth Rua-Larsen
She insisted on calling it pig, and even now, she refused to eat it. After their divorce and the lengthy custody battle, we thought she’d leave behind every reminder of him and his peculiar views, but this was the one thing to which she held true. Pork was forbidden.
He’d always said that pigs were filthy animals. They rolled around in mud and shit. They ate mud and shit and anything else they could inhale. He’d banned all pig and pig products from the household.
He’d grown up on a pig farm. He’d fed them, wrestled them into their pens, slaughtered them for sale, and boiled them into blood pudding. When they met, she could smell it on him, though he’d showered twice and splashed on after shave. She should have taken that lingering stench as a sign, but she didn’t. This, she thought, was a man so low she couldn’t help but lift him, and when he asked her to elope, she squealed a yes that jolted him into severing all contact with his parents and sister in a final butchering of his former life.
Six years and three kids later, he was jobless and unemployment had run out. He was never happy, and she couldn’t make him so. He didn’t want to go to the local community college and retrain in another career (After pigs, who would have me? he said). He couldn’t slice meat at the local deli (too many memories). Every job had an unacceptable pig association. When he walked out of his first therapy session (that shrink had beady eyes), she took the kids and left.
We asked her why she didn’t stock the fridge with the pickled pigs’ feet she’d loved as a child, or why she hadn’t already set a rack of ribs ablaze on the grill now that he was gone. She grunted and looked away, then admitted that one of the kids had sprouted a tail, another’s feet were cleaving into hooves, and the third had two pink triangles budding near her temples. Soon they’d have to gather the straw, sticks and bricks and commence building.