Maenad

by Angela Boord

 

 

        My love is a fox on the hunt, dapple-silver in the moonlight, rippling in and out of shadows. Rabbit and squirrel tunnel in the creepers, and my love hunts.

        My love is a lithe-built man, lean as a willow and as wiry-strong. He sits in the touch-me-nots beneath my window with his dulcimer and sings soft until I fall asleep.

        I dream of the fox as he sings, with his hide so sleek and red, his eyes shimmer-gold like scuppernong wine. When I'm asleep my love sets his dulcimer down atop the flowers and rises to hunt in the woods. Sometimes I wake and follow him, barefoot into the night, and the warm wind wraps my nightdress around my legs. Tonight I go after him, too, the dirt and the leaves beneath my feet friends welcoming me home. I pick up the dulcimer that smells of spent flowers; I run my fingers over its honey wood, smooth as my lover's skin; I scrape my fingernails down the ridged steel strings and the dulcimer cries out my cry to the night, begging him: Come home, come home!

        The fox flashes through the shadows, there where the woods muddle with the yard. I run into the brush barefoot for him, into the woods, though twigs and rocks tear at my feet. Branches slap my face and blood slicks my steps, but I keep running like a foxhound baying after my prey. My calves stretch and burn -- too far, too fast I'm running! My spine lights up with fire. I stoop. I fall.

        I run on four legs.

        Pain and frustration howl in the night. Hair prickles its way out of me, cream and tan, like tea too full of milk. My nails click on the rocks as I run, and my feet no longer bleed, cushioned by thick, callused pads. I scent my love ahead of me -- the fragrance of dens and blood. The smell is in me, too, and I remember all the nights we wrapped around each other in the dark, his legs and mine like the wind and my nightdress, our bodies crushing the violets that grew in deep drifts by the oak. The scent of violets, of spring and his seed and the dirt -- it wraps around me now, a blanket, a song, calling me home.

        But now it's fall and he runs away from me. Muscadine vines, laden with their dark little grapes, shudder at his passing. Some of them fall into the leaf litter -- pit-pat-pit -- and I snap at his rump as we crash over them, mashing them into a pulp with our paws. My teeth catch at his hair, leaving me with nothing but a few fine russet threads in my mouth.

        I growl at pleasure unfulfilled and scramble up on a rock. He's not so far ahead of me. My haunches bunch and I leap, flying free.

        My body slams into his. We roll together -- growling, yelping, tussling, groping for one another, snapping and biting for a hold. I lunge for his throat.

        He twists, but my teeth slice deep and sure.

        Hot blood floods my jaws, a sweet-salt pulsing burst. I drop his limp body at my feet and bay triumph to the night.

        The sound that pours out of my mouth is not a dog's.

        I lick my lips.

        Blood.

        I look down.

        My love lies there, a man with the skin of his throat torn like linen caught on a branch.  Blood still puddles beneath him.

        I can smell it.

        His fingers twitch.  I pick up his hand and raise his fingers to my lips, brush the blood from my mouth with the dulcimer-calluses at their tips.

        "I loved you," he gasps. His amber eyes are dull and brown.

        Water splashes our hands, twined together. Not rain. I sow my tears into his blood like tiny white seeds.

        "No one loved you more than I," I whisper, brushing his lips with my own. "No one."

        In the darkness, his blood is as black as the earth.

 

"Maenad" copyright 2005 by Angela Boord

 

About the Author:

Angela Boord currently lives in St. Louis, Missouri with her husband and three kids, but was raised in the foothills of Middle Tennessee. At various times in her life she has been a graduate student of anthropology, a technical writer, and the person taking delivery orders at a Chinese restaurant.  Now she homeschools her kids and writes in her "spare" time.  You can find out more about her at her website:  http://pages.sbcglobal.net/aboord.

 

Lone Star Stories * Speculative Fiction and Poetry * Copyright 2003-2005

 

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