Her fingers. They are like creeping spider legs, spindly and skeletal, reaching out towards you, pleading and desperate.
MORGAN QUINN, BRIDGET CLEARY’S FINGERS
A girl who is born by the sea has salt water in her blood. She is nursed by sea foam as well as at her mother’s breast. Her first toys are pearlescent shells, pitted drift glass gems, many-coloured pebbles polished smooth, driftwood shapes that she fits together into odd, twisted figures.
She sat at the head of the table, glowing. (The rest of us sat in shadow. We thought it would have been better to be ghosts.)
She was tall and bony with spider-gray hair on her head, parted in the center. Her eyes were stone black with drooping eyelids, heavily puckered flesh painted deep purple, the eyeshadow caked in the crevices. Otherwise, her face was the color of curdled milk.
The villagers used to call her a fool, gawking from their homes and storefronts as she stood arms akimbo in the rain. Waves crested over her cotton dress, hanks of hair clung to her face. They’d shake their heads, murmuring portents of chills in her bones, colds settling in the nape of her neck, her chest, her back.
Baba would come quick after dinner, one crooked finger to her lips, and press my palm with a chicken bone. Father saw her once and told her to stop her old country witchcraft; after, she moved in secret. I wrapped the bones in cloth and hid them in my trunk, and when it was full, I buried them along the path to the forest.
Our girl first notices the wolf on a warm summer day in Detroit. She is walking along the river, having wandered away from her friends at a local club for a cigarette break. Truthfully, she quit smoking months ago but still uses it as an excuse to duck out of social gatherings she didn’t want to be at anymore.
Once upon a time a man had three daughters. No wife, not any more – he’d plucked her from the village like a delicate flower, and hill-farming’s a hard life – but she’d left him three bundles of laughter who chased crows from the farmyard and sheep across the fells.
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Growths start. Spreading out from the point of contact: lumpy knobs that flatten out into palms, with knuckles on one side and heart lines on the other. The palms fold out into jointed fingers as she draws the flame back, reaching forward for the match, ending in nails.
SEAN NOAH NOAH, SOLID WALL BUT THE WALLIS MADE OF
HANDS BUT THE HANDS ARE MADE OF SHEETROCK