Flash Fiction 3rd Place: We Are Kathryn by Donna L Greenwood
Mama whispers dark truths in the night. She shows us the bruises between her thighs. Wait till it’s your turn, she whispers to the child in our bed. Kathryn is small, even then.
At school we pinch the boy’s skin; we push our fist into his mouth. Our laughter cuts him up good. Kathryn wipes the blood from his teeth and doesn’t understand why he runs from her.
When we are grown, we go to work at the meat place. We get our own knives because we cut good. We hang them over our bed… just in case. At night in the red dark we dream of eating men. Kathryn is getting smaller. The knives frighten her.
We are married. We wear white and the choir blasts the rhymes of God. We wonder what He tastes like. Kathryn blossoms. Grows large. We let her have her moment.
We are a mother. Kathryn has always dreamed of being a mother. Never a monster. No one dreams of being a monster. We will be good.
His kids don’t like us. He says we fight like a man. His love is oblong; it doesn’t fit down our round, red throat. Kathryn doesn’t understand pain. But we do. His fists make her shrink faster.
When we look in the mirror, we see her. Kathryn. Greasy hair. Bad teeth. Bloodied. Good for nothing but badness. She stares hard and we think she sees us slithering somewhere inside the white gristle of her eyeballs. He will pay for that, she whispers to the mirror, wiping away blood from her cheek.
After we hang his skin from the door frame and crawl into bed with his bones, we curl up inside the nest of her empty brain. We turn up her lips at the corners and make her smile. We reach for her, but, after tasting the marrow of her husband’s skull, she has finally fallen away.
Kathryn is gone.
We are Kathryn now.