Saturday, 26 June 2021

'Last Night with the Stoatman' by Anika Carpenter

The bracken scuffles, sounds delicious. It’s inhabited by Leporids and haunted by echoes of wrappers being shoved into jeans pockets, and hushed unzippings. Up here, where there are no unscheduled meetings, late trains home, unvoiced apologies Christie summons the rabbits. Unthinkingly they come, following the steady thump of her leather boots on fertile soil.

They’re shadowed by a slink-hipped predator, a figure who moves in twists and loops loose as a gymnast’s ribbon. The snap-necked bunnies that once were sweethearts, wives, husbands, lovers catch the hypnotic movements in their cheerless brown eyes. Hearts racing. Stunned. Sweet trembling flesh, sweat-sodden fur. His fur’s chocolate-smooth, glossy enough to capture the stars. He glimpses Christie and sighs, ‘Oh Goddess, my Goddess’. She grins wider than the waxing moon, has him drape his slender arms around her neck, unflinching at his rotted-heart breath, his sap-sticky words; ‘My blessing, my woman, my prize’. She fills his mouth with her reply, ‘You moth-eaten stole of a man’. Loose-bellied, crow-footed, drooped and greying she reaches up to paw the sky. A contented cat drawing down rain that lays him out sodden across moss and rocks. Christie shimmies home, stopping only to kiss the wind-bent Hawthorn trees.

*

Carrots bob beside rabbit flesh like lost life jackets. After they’ve eaten the stew and fresh-baked bread, Christie will explore the forest of hairs on her husband’s proud belly. Disturbing the corvids, pipistrelles and Dark bordered beauties he confides in. The bats will seek shelter in his furrowed brow, the moths, fall to the floor like wood shavings.  She’ll shake loose deadwood and Morchella spores, make a rot-rich compost, and as she cradles him weighty as a felled tree between her thighs, he’ll pick lichen from her hair and suck the dirt from her under her fingernails.

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And the Flood abates....

That's it for this year's FlashFlood!  Huge thanks again to our writers, our readers, our editors , and everyone who submitted work....