His back hung in flayed strips like the carcasses of cattle where she bought meat to make meals for a husband she loved.
He was a robber, a thief of emotions, caught and branded by law an adulterer. She found him on her way home, barely alive, moaning and rolling in the cool dirt of the alley. Sand ground into the torn flesh of his back, flowing blood like an overturned vase seeping water into a carpet. Colors ran, intermingled.
She hid him in the shack at the back of their walled yard. She moved tools, brought a blanket, a candle and some water and wine. She cleaned the ragged landscape of his back and dressed it with cotton. He whispered thanks between warnings. She shushed him and left him to sleep.
He told her about the woman. He cried when he spoke her name. He said her eyes still burned into his own, her lips healed his wounds with the memory of kisses. He said that he wished that he too had been put to death.
She kept him hidden for nearly a week. He insisted that he would leave the next day.
He was gone, as he’d said, but he had been seen by her neighbor, a bitter old widow she disliked.
She sang as she prepared the evening meal, happy to no longer have a secret kept from her husband, when they came and took her away.
8 responses to “Red Meat by Susan Gibb”
Reminds me of the world in Shirley Jackson’s ‘The Lottery’ if that story had been in 17th century Salem. Very chilling.
Such a great story. So much detail, a whole society and the microcosm of two lives, all captured in less than 250 words. Brilliant.
Wow. This could be a Margaret Atwood novel wrapped up in a page. Fabulous. Peace…
like linda’s comment – so true. a cruel piece well told. the relationships come out so clearly here. the piece makes me a little sad. i wonder how the husband felt when they took her away.
this has a cryptic quality that felt a bit like something steven king writes (i hope you are not offended), but there was this altruism at work and then she turns out nuts. i like this, it makes me wonder…
Very nice. I would be interested in seeing it as a longer story.
A longer story would be very cool . . .
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