Savaging

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Savaging by Diana ClarkeMy husband often tells me how much he likes me. He says, I like you so much I don’t know how to process it. Sometimes he looks at me and his eyes are young and afraid and he says, I like you so much I want to eat you. I want to bite through your skin and chew on your muscles and gnaw on your bones like chicken wings. He says, I want some of your sinew to be stuck, dangling, between my two front teeth. I am quite scared of my husband. I fear his famished eyes.

 *

I found a kitten on the side of the road. I was walking to the store for canned tuna because I was pregnant and I couldn’t stomach food anymore and a colleague told me that by just sniffing tuna, one can ingest its calories. I think that my colleague was wrong, but usually she is quite smart. She is good at making PowerPoint presentations. The kitten was so small, it looked like a baby’s sock. I called it Baby Sock. I took to the store to buy canned tuna.

*

Nearly seventy-five percent of deaths among babies younger than four months occur in a bed-sharing situation. Mothers asphyxiating their offspring. I wonder if some of them do it on purpose. It sounds like a murder loophole.

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When I first started dating my husband, he was reluctant to call me his girlfriend. He said, we don’t need a label to know what we are. I said, once I made a cake and it wouldn’t stop growing. It grew out of its tin and it kept growing until it filled the whole oven. When I opened the oven it grew more and filled the whole kitchen. It was like one of those fat people who can’t stop eating. The cake could have been on that reality show. It did that because I used baking powder instead of flour.

He said, did it taste good?

*

Nearly seventy-five percent of deaths in people older than eighty-five occur in bed. But those deaths are rarely the result of being asphyxiated by mothers.

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I kept killing all of my houseplants, so my parents bought me a cactus for my birthday. I killed the cactus, too. I cut it with scissors, right through the middle. It felt like severing a tendon. The cactus bled translucent.

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When I had been dating my husband for about six months, I said, what are we doing? Are we boyfriend and girlfriend? And he said, I hate those terms. And I said, so what, then? And he said, we are co-sleeping. And I said, you mean fuckbuddies? And he said, co-sleepers.

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Savaging: [verb]– mother animals attacking their newborn offspring. In extreme cases, where feasible, outright cannibalism will occur.

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Baby Sock was always hungry. Always so hungry. His mouth was always open and squeaking like shoes on a basketball court. Baby cats drink milk, the internet told me, so I bought a gallon of full fat and I tipped the bottle up to his face. Baby Sock tried to fit his whole head into the bottle’s mouth. He wanted to climb into the milk bottle and live there. I asked him, Baby Sock, is my house not good enough for you? I asked him this because I was offended.

*

We like to watch those legal shows and those detective shows because we like to take bets on who is the real murderer. When my husband wins he smiles for the rest of the night. Sometimes I choose the most obvious not-murderer so that I don’t feel bad about wanting to punch my husband’s face the way I do every night.

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The same colleague who is good at PowerPoint presentations and bad at pregnancy advice told me that her narcotics anonymous mentor suggested it might be best to avoid men. Her name is Lorraine, by the way, and she is not a lesbian.

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My husband does not let me go down on him anymore because once I tried to bite it off. I wanted to know how it would feel to bite all the way through a limb. I wasn’t going to actually eat it, I assured him. I just wanted to bite it off and have it in my mouth for a while. This did not help. I want to carry it in my hands, to put it in my purse, I told him. This did not help, either.

*

Baby Sock was getting so thin that his fur was more than his body. My husband said, you need to feed him out of a nipple, like his mother. Buy a baby bottle. But there was no time. Baby Sock was malnourished and dying. I looked down at my swollen breasts. They leaked every day, dripping faucets on my chest. I held Baby Sock up to my nipple and he opened his mouth and bit the nub so hard I gasped. Then he began to suck and I felt happy. Like a balloon being deflated, slowly. Insides trickling out, easing the tension. I fed him milk and milk and milk.

*

A selection of eight things that release dopamine in the brain:

  1. Love
  2. Violence
  3. Tuna
  4. Cocaine
  5. Chicken
  6. Gambling
  7. Sex
  8. Seeing that your food is on its way at a restaurant

*

My husband doesn’t fit inside me. His tongue is too thick for my mouth, it clogs my throat and stops me from swallowing. We cannot hold hands because when he weaves his fingers through mine, the webbing between my knuckles splits from his size. He is too big and when we have sex he stretches me and when I shout out he smiles as he asks, are you okay, babe? Afterwards, he falls asleep and I wonder what would happen if I rolled onto his face and stayed there until his snores became silence. But then I look at his open mouth and I think that if I were to roll onto his face, I might fall inside, and he might swallow me.

*

On an episode of one of those legal shows, there was a case about a woman who shook her baby. She said, he liked being jiggled so much, I jiggled him on my knee and on my hip and in my arms. She said, he liked jiggling so much I kept doing it and I’m not sure when the jiggling became shaking. What is the difference between jiggling and shaking? And then she said, he was laughing until he wasn’t. And then she was found guilty.

*

I think about living inside my husband. It would be warm and quiet. He eats a lot of carbohydrates, so I imagine his stomach would be comfy and safe and well insulated. I would like to curl up on his organ floor and take a small nap. It would not be good if he ate last night’s Chinese food while I slept. It would not be good to wake up covered in lo mein.

*

Once I said to Lorraine, Lorraine, do you think you were addicted to cocaine because your name is Lorraine and it rhymes? She said, I dunno, Liv, probably not. Are you addicted to Bolivia? And I agreed with her on this point, even though she was definitely wrong about the tuna.

*

I spent days huffing tuna, but I kept shrinking. My stomach was tumorous, but the rest of me was bones. Then, one day, Baby Sock ate my can of sniffing tuna, and I was happy to see he had moved on to solid foods because my breasts were pierced from his vampire teeth. Pin cushions pinned to my torso.

*

Feeding a baby is similar to receiving a blowjob except the baby is sucking on a nipple. I told my husband this and he said, you are good at making sure I never want a blowjob from you.

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When I gave birth, my baby came out elbow first like barging through a crowd. After the elbow came the rest of the body. When you see babies you think of smallness. Once you give birth to a baby you see only bigness and that time you almost died.

*

I have not been to Bolivia, but here are some fun Bolivia facts. Bolivia trivia, if you will. In 2010, Bolivia granted all nature equal rights to humans. Bolivia is also home to the largest mirror in the world. I do not think that these two facts are unrelated.

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I like watching the shows about the morbidly obese people and the hoarders. I think there should be a show that combines the two; after all, overeating is hoarding food on the inside. In a way, people who overeat are just more careful hoarders.

*

When I gave birth, my baby tore the space between my legs. He was trying to split me in two. I said to my husband, aw, how sweet, he wanted two of me. My husband laughed and said, or maybe he wanted none of you. Even if my husband wanted a blowjob from me, I would say no.

*

In the summertime, Baby Sock liked to sleep under my car in the shade. We thought it was so cute that we took photos. We thought it was so cute until we drove to the hospital so that I could give birth and we didn’t check under the car first.

*

I watched one episode of Hoarders in which a woman collected newspapers. She subscribed to every paper, local, regional, national, and she stacked them throughout her house. When she was showing the world her house on the television, she walked on paper floors and sat on paper stacked chairs and took the population through her papery paper house. When the host asked her, why papers? The woman said, my husband always liked to do the crossword. Then there was a laughter track that played for too long.

*

My husband likes me so much that he still wants to have sex with me even though he watched our baby bisect me. He wants to have sex even though the doctor said I should wait until the stitches that are keeping me whole dissolve. My husband says, it won’t hurt if I’m very, very gentle; and I say, gentle genitals; and he says, ah fuck it, never mind.

*

When we got home from the hospital, Baby Sock was just red fur on the driveway. He looked like the day I found him only more red. And this time he could not meow because he was dead.

*

My baby will only stop crying when I lay him in my bed between my husband and me. To our ceiling fan, we must look like an H.

*

There was a man who died on death row. I forget his name, so I will call him Timothy. Timothy went to prison because he came home drunk while his wife was making a roast chicken, and he tried to seduce her, but she said, no Timothy, the dinner is in the oven. Timothy reached into the oven, but he was drunk and forgot about temperature, and he lifted the tray of chicken, which is when he remembered about heat, and he threw the roast chicken and it hit his wife in the head and it knocked her unconscious. Then Timothy tore one of the bird’s legs from its body and he clubbed his wife dead. Timothy ordered roast chicken as his last meal.

*

Sometimes, when I pick up my baby and he is crying, I want to crush his face between my palms. Sometimes, when I pick up my baby and he is smiling, I want to punch him in the face just like I want to do to my husband on CSI nights and other nights. I wonder what would happen if I pressed that soft spot on the crown of my baby’s head. I know I am not meant to do it, but to me that spot looks like bubble wrap.

*

My husband said to me, sometimes you look as if you might eat our baby. And he was right, sometimes I think I might.


Photo by David Olimpio

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About Author

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Diana Clarke is a New Zealander currently living and writing in Lafayette, Indiana. She is completing her MFA at Purdue University.

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