curio by laura ellen scott

 

 

I Want to Kiss!

1
Bun cracks the screen and lets bugs pour in. Then he sets out his tools.  All I can do is take inventory: An empty green glass bottle with mud stuck to the bottom. A short coil of kinked wire. Two unfiltered cigarettes. A wrinkled pink carbon sheet from a Sears invoice he refers to as “the answer key.” I have never been so frightened of a receipt. He smokes the cigarettes, not speaking, one and then the other, fueling up. The chicken. I don’t know where he put the chicken.

Louisa liked to cup me here and there, which was nice. I am not overly experienced. She showed me how to get a good fire going in the stove, and how to conceal my morels and ginseng. She gave me a clock that ticks. Not many do anymore. I nested her pans. We were carnal for two days, but then she took up with Bun. Her imprecise goodbye has had me grinding: “It’s okay, it’s not love.”

After Bun it was the deputy, but her latest is an Austrian student. She doesn’t seem to like herself much.

Bun peers at me. He knows something about me, some secret I don’t even know. “I got a cousin could paint this place for you.” Unlike other men, he means every damned thing he says. Tiny moths the size of petals assign themselves to the strata just above our heads, looking like information. 

 

2
They say chicken bones are very dangerous for dogs, but Hanna goes through the carcass like a champ, stripping out the innards. She’s up there on the bed, letting bird blood soak the duvet. She’s a bad dog.

One-two-three plain moths settle on Bun’s shoulder, single file with wings parted to form a triple chevron. Bun is the Moth Sergeant. The first one hits me in the temple, fat and warm, abuzz. Articulated, I don’t know what you call it. Other moths swirl specks in my eyes. When I call out, the entire swarm pours down my throat. How in the hell do they know the way? Wings and dust and wings and legs and bitter colors, all diving down.

“Howling is a sure sign of ignorance,” whispers Bun before he smacks me. Saves my life that way. By beating the moths, and the living shit, right out of me. Even when the moths are gone, he pounds on me some more. When he tires, he leaves me on the cold floor.

It’s good to know my eyes will never adjust to the darkness. “Will I be found dead here?”

“Not everything is about you.” Starts again.

I’m worked over, wound tight, furled and unfurled. It takes a lot of effort to effect real, permanent change. The moths disperse, cartwheel and come back.

 Mobilized. Organized. At work.

 

3
Oh, I’m fixed all right. By morning I’m alone, the size of a fist. I lift one moist green wing, ease out a wrinkle. I stretch a thready leg. It will take some getting used to. Plus, I want to be exquisite.“Bun?” I have no mouth. The Luna does not eat. It lives for a week to mate and flies only at night. Already, I take a very broad view. 

“Bun?”

No answer.

“Hanna?”

No answer.

Beasts. 

 

4
At night I wheel down the mountain, harassed by bats. Louisa and the lover squat by a campfire made of broken furniture. She’s drunk, luxurious, and her breasts are bug bitten. My phantom mouth aches. When she finally laughs at an Austrian mistake, I force myself down her throat.

“Louisa, Louisa!” I cry, diving down in.