Kayla Miller

When The Animals Turned On You

You tend to procrastinate and leave obligations unfulfilled.
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You are structured and disciplined with your schedule.
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You walk with a confidant gait.
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When you walk, you keep your eyes on the ground.
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You are introverted and prefer to spend most of your time alone.
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You enjoy being the center of attention in a crowd.
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You are honest and truthful in your relationships.
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You are a liar.
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You are a good liar.
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You are unattached to people.
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You do not feel guilt.
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You feel overwhelming amounts of guilt.
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You are a villain.
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You do not love your mother.
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After your two-year-old brother died, you felt relief, didn’t you?
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Weren’t you glad to be rid of the brat?
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You don’t have any feelings at all.
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Wasn’t your mother’s grief satisfying?
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You watched her sob into your father’s suit and smiled.
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You hurt animals.
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You take flowers to your mother’s grave.
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You called prostitutes as a young man, only to braid their hair in bed.
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They never found your brother’s body, but you know where it is, don’t you?
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When the animals started to turn on you, they smelled it in your blood. They smelled your terrible fear and terrible emptiness; they preyed. When you were very small, small enough to squat and keep your feet flat on the ground, you killed ants. You the giant, you the human, you with digits bigger than their beings. You squashed each one flat and ground your fingers into the red Georgia dirt. Ants so stupid they walked in curved lines, pick one out and kill it, then another and another. Sometimes, you laughed. Larger things. You stole the robin’s eggs and cracked them between your fingers. The blue shells gave easily to pools of blood and sticky, half-formed things you squeezed in your fist. Extinguishing the lanterns of the evening fireflies helped you sleep.

And still larger. Frogs were easy to catch in the neighborhood creek, and they struggled when you pulled their legs from their bodies. The slime of their forms rendered them slippery, those frogs, but you held tight. You studied the workings of tendons and layered skin, the way bone fits into bone and the blanket of meat it all resides in.

Birds. And bats. Confused ones that flew into your open carport and couldn’t find their way out; ones you disoriented by throwing rock-filled socks into the air. Crouched down in the dirt on the side of your house, you plucked feathers and snapped the leather of batwings.

When you became less a child and more a miniature man, the strength in your newfound muscles needed exercising. You flexed the momentum of your thigh by kicking your mother’s cocker spaniel. You wrapped man-hands around the throats of stray cats.

You shred the shrapnel of what had been batwings between your teeth. They were thin and chewy and reminded you of overcooked noodles when they’ve dried up and clumped together. The first time you consumed animals, you cringed. Lips turned down at the edges and taste buds bucked and wanted not to taste, your mouth tried not to feel the small hairs on your wet tongue, focusing instead solely on the mastication, the pulpification of what was once life and flight and now belonged to your stomach acid.

You are mean. You wouldn’t say as much, but the animals know. They watch you with their dumb eyes and they low like cattle, they screech like hyenas, they bark like Cujo-mad dogs because your pheromones smell cruel.

You have always liked making things. Your mother teased you as a child, saying you only made messes, but as you became a man you made sturdier things, heavier things, wooden things like tables and chairs. You made necklaces of cat teeth. The small points of ivory dangled round your neck, promising onlookers, family and acquaintances and potential spellcast lovers, that they, too, will be eaten by you. Not that you’d eaten every animal you’d killed. Only most of them. And only partly.

When your high school anatomy class dissected the thick meat of a cow’s eyeball, you didn’t wear gloves. Pushing your finger into the calcified, slight give of what had been bovine sight, your dick hardened. You excused yourself to go to the bathroom, not to piss but to lick the cow’s internal juices from your fingers and cum in the toilet.

You had kin in that anatomy class. You made eye contact with a cousin of yours when you let yourself back into the room. You pulled the lab’s formaldehyde deep into your lungs and remembered showing that cousin the baby deer you’d tied up by the creek. After the bus ride home from your shared middle school, you coaxed him into visiting your pet. How his faced Medusa-ed when he saw the starved fawn you’d captured weeks earlier. How he averted his eyes when you came back into the classroom. How both times you’d stared him straight in the face, and felt yourself the man because of it, better because of it. Nourished.

So you grew. Animals and sheer meanness fed you, and you grew like the wild, untamed beast you are. You feel trapped in the man-cage of your body, you look out your eyes and liken it to a slave looking out the porthole of a New World-bound ship. You are going somewhere you don’t like, you are trapped within the house of your skin, and you still don’t consider yourself mean. Even with such analogies.

So they don’t trust you, those animals. They never did. Pigeons fly from every street corner you traverse; they are keen to get away from the spiked, metallic smell of your cruelty.

After becoming a real man, a fully-fledged man with an experienced dick and experienced hands, those animals, they turned on you.

 

 

Kayla Miller is currently an MFA Fiction candidate at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She hails from the southside of Atlanta, Georgia and likens herself to John Wayne in this Wild West. Her work has appeared in Analecta, Aurora, The Battered Suitcase, Gravel, Five [Quarterly], and is forthcoming in Soundings Review. She writes about the South, divinity in the mundane, and ugly people doing ugly things.

GestureKayla Miller