This selection is from Mary McMyne’s chapbook, Wolf Skin.
Three times, he comes after me on the back porch. Three times.
The first I’m just a child, pigtailed, six years old. My favorite show
is Thundercats; my mother still tells stories about the Big Bad Wolf.
I sit on the steps with a friend, eating popsicles. When he stands to go,
I’m happy to stay behind and lick my popsicle, to feel the hot summer
sun on my toes. Then he comes around the side of the house, the bzou,
a hybrid of Liono and Big Bad, sharp-toothed, red-eyed, half-man,
half-beast. I scream for my mother, but no sound
will come out of my throat.
The second time my friend stands to go, I sit up straight, ignore my popsicle.
My skin prickles when the door slams. I stand, the boots I wore in eighth grade
pinching my toes. When the bzou comes around the side of the house, this time,
he has become the American Werewolf in London, wild-eyed, long-nosed.
He moves quickly, legs swiveling from great shoulders, his jaws opening
in a bloody-toothed snarl. I run to the back door, cursing the knob
that won’t turn, screaming for the mother who does not answer
as he lopes, red-eyed, toward me on the porch.
The third, it is strange to be sitting on the steps at all. I’m wearing
a blazer and dress shoes, bifocals I won’t need until my thirties. I set down
my sticky popsicle to gaze, puzzled, at the yard I haven’t seen since my mother’s
house sold. There’s the fig tree, the birdfeeder, the scarecrow she stood in the garden
each fall, despite the fact that its arms were always covered in crows. Looking back
at the screen door, behind me, I know that the knob will not turn, that my mother
will not answer. When the bzou comes, this time, I will be on my own.
But when he does come around the side of the house, he is smaller
than I remembered, more man than beast. He walks slowly to the porch,
apparently nursing a wound. He doesn’t want to meet my eyes.
Look at me, I tell him. His are bloodshot.
He winces when I say, I don’t believe in you.
Mary McMyne is the author of Wolf Skin, a chapbook (dancing girl press, 2014). She grew up in south Louisiana, studying English and creative writing at Louisiana State University before moving to the east coast to study fiction. Since earning her MFA from New York University, her poems and stories have appeared in Word Riot, Pedestal Magazine, Painted Bride Quarterly, Los Angeles Review, New Delta Review, and many other publications. Her criticism has appeared in American Book Review. Her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Rhysling Award, and her fiction has won the Faulkner Prize for a Novel-in-Progress and a Sustainable Arts Foundation Promise Award. Since 2011, she has lived in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan, where she is co-editor of the journal Border Crossing and an assistant professor at Lake Superior State University. Learn more at marymcmyne.com.
Meagan Cass is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Illinois Springfield, where she teaches courses in creative writing, independent publishing, and composition, curates the Shelterbelt reading series, and advises the campus literary journal, the Alchemist Review. Her fiction has appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Pinch, Hobart Web, PANK, and Puerto del Sol, among other journals. Magic Helicopter Press will publish her first fiction chapbook, Range of Motion, in January 2014. She holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisiana Lafayette and an MFA in fiction from Sarah Lawrence College.