‘It will get you out of the house,’ Mum said. ‘Give you something else to think about.’
So here I am at my first taxidermy class.
The tutor has chosen a flamingo. My gaze follows the long, thin, legs up the table to an egg-shaped torso, awash with pink plumage. Perhaps I can steal some feathers and make myself a boa? Elegant for parties, though I’m not really in a party mood.
My brain flips and I imagine you stretched out before me, your six-pack and broad shoulders ready for preserving. I could stuff you. That would be fair given you’ve stuffed me and are now stuffing my cousin, Claire.
‘So,’ the tutor says, ‘how do we begin?’
‘Make sure the damn thing’s dead,’ quips the old woman in the seat behind me.
Make sure the damn thing’s dead.
I’ll need one large feather. From the thin bird’s fat stomach. I’ll sharpen the quill end and study archery. Mum will be delighted I’ve found a new interest all on my own and, once I’ve learned to hit the target with unerring accuracy, I’ll dip my flamingo arrow tip in poison, pick my time and place. When the deed is done, this taxidermy course will really come into its own.
‘Gather round,’ says the tutor.
I don’t need telling twice.
When I get home, Mum hugs me, says she’s glad to see me looking so much better.
First published in the Flash Fiction Festival Anthology Three (2019).