Forum becomes forest under fingertips. Here is where the girls walk through underbrush and cyberspace, where they go to debate and upend the rules of nature: the eating and the being eaten. There are tunnels to fall down, if you feel you’re good for nothing, life failing you, turning you living-dead. Girls asking please, I have seen enough of the world this time around. I would like to kindly be eaten to the grave now. These girls have blunt teeth, or broken teeth. Their fingers flit feather-light on the keyboard, almost afraid to be heard.
Then, there are those other girls. Born with a predator’s canines, or filing their teeth sharp later in life. These girls type on the keyboard with staccato excitement, roam chatrooms with foaming animal need. What does a girl need to do to sate her hunger around here? they type, already drooling down their chins. Already tasting the charred, marinated meat of their once-sisters and lovers.
Me? I am neither kind. Not even a girl in fact, though I know how to use the looks I was born with well. How to enhance the flavor through frilled red hems, spicy-sweet perfume, and a baroque neckline; a stabbed-heart necklace: evidence of my reckless romanticism. My wolf date, carefully tracked, selected off the branching subfora and fauna of deep web. For there are certain men there–never boys–oh-so-graciously answering all the girls’ burning questions.
Will you kiss me tender as a morsel before you butcher and quarter me? Will my meat grow sweeter in your mouth then?
And those other girls, the sharp-toothed ones. I heard you were a purveyor of epicurean desires. Can I get a taste of that roast, caramelized and butter soft? Will you share a kiss with me, the taste of girl flesh stretched between our teeth?
“You look even better than your picture,” my date pronounces.
Expensive suit, dark shoes, glinting eyes and teeth. Wolf of forum forest, through and through. He extends an arm and I take it. Hang on to it, delectable eye candy. Yet it’s not honeyed pastries and iced bonbons he seeks.
“You look like someone who can teach a girl a trick or two,” I say, I titter.
He is not my Malorie, not my best friend. He could never coax a true laugh out of the dead animal of my mouth. There is a blade strapped to my belly, but I don’t reach for it yet. He poses no danger to me now, while I am still agleam with novelty. He thinks us like-minded. About to share in arcane pleasure, distinguished taste.
His car purrs, a subtle beast. In his house in the woods, he shows off his outdoor grill, maple smoking wood. “We should fire it up,” he says, “when the weather permits. You’ll be around, won’t you? You look like a girl who likes life’s finest things.”
Under porch light he prowls near, leans down to inhale the rose scent of my hair. I place a hand over my knife-strapped belly, conceal my weapon of choice. Hunch over and pretend to moan in need, “Oh, but I’m so hungry.”
He laughs his pleasure. “Pretty girl, special girl, let me feed you.”
On stainless steel countertops, a feast of raw meat red and bouncy; marbled white, sweet striations of flesh.
“I studied under some of the best chefs in my youth,” he boasts. “They all preferred to let the meat rot, just a touch. Then cooked it right in the open, so the guest could see the prime cut of veal or venison reserved just for them.”
“Oh,” I say. “How scrumptious.”
With his focus on the stove, the sizzling oil, the rosemary and thyme, I lean down on the counter over the gentle stench of meat. I run my nose over the cut when he isn’t looking. Nuzzle down, kiss deep.
“How about your knives?” I ask. Show interest, but only just. The flames of my rage, kept low but constant.
He unwinds a rolled up set of blades, every one bigger and shinier than its predecessor. This, for the bone. This for the tendon. The joint. The skin peeling, the body unraveled. Unmade.
“What about the killing blow?” I ask. Twirl a strand of hair around my finger like a tourniquet to mask the seismic quiver starting from within.
Tapping the side of his nose, he smiles dazzling-bright. “Another secret I learned from the best. Freshest food is the one prepared while the animal is still alive.”
He prattles on about the preparation of eels, how their thrashing heads are nailed to the worktable. Their skin ungloved, a striptease like a knee sock pulled low, lower, off.
He is not my Malorie, not my best friend. His passion does nothing to rivet me.
The red meat is charring nicely on the pan, accompanied by a small assortment of purple fingerling potatoes. I busy myself pretending to swallow the wine pairings he’s prepared for us. The tension is climbing its crescendo as the cooking process advances. Meaty marriage of heat and smoke. If I were a girl of sharp teeth, I might savor the anticipation more. All I can focus on is the smell. Like pork swimming in brown butter. A squeeze of lemon.
Once the meat is on the table, I can no longer hold on to meticulously calculated pretensions. Let this wolf swirl his wine and talk French and Italian cuisine. I forgo fork and knife to plunge my fingers straight into the creeks and valleys of my steak, trace runes through the bloody juice residue, paint my lips red with it. I grab the meat like a forest beast starving for it. Burn my tongue to scratchy texture, cut my cheeks open on the sharpness of bone.
“I see,” my wolf says, bewitched, and slides his own plate over to me across the kitchen island. My reflection on the shining worktop winks scarlet and wild-eyed. He watches with his chin on his palm and a razor smile edged with voyeuristic pleasure. “I knew you were special.”
The taste is rich and all-encompassing. I choke it down mouthful by mouthful, barely chewing. He tuts but I ignore his offense at my not indulging in the feast’s nuances and subtle notes. It’s not the taste I ache for; it’s the consuming.
When I at last have licked clean my plate and his, he comes over to my side of the island. With a linen napkin, he wipes clean my unctuous chin. Lingers on my lips in aggravating caress.
“Stay the night,” he says. “Let me be a good host. I will have more treats for you in the morning.”
I lean into him, wrap my arms all the way around him. The knife, transferred from my meat-bloated belly, a hand trick straight into my grasp. I imbue my embrace with feigned gratitude. And when he has his arms raised in return, his vulnerable sides exposed, I strike. Through the side and twisted up into the ribcage, vital organs slashed open and bleeding along the way.
“Forget about morning,” I say and push him back with effort. Adrenaline thrill. “Tell me now. Where do you keep the rest of her?”
“Her?” He burbles as he falls through lips coated not in meat juices, but his own inner lifeblood. He laughs. “Which one?”
“My best friend,” I bite out, losing all semblance of control. “My Malorie.”
I straddle his form, snatch one of his butcher knives designed for optimal performance, sharpened and silver. I slash at his chest and hands and face the way he slashed my poor Malorie apart.
“Malorie,” he faintly says. “Malorie. MsMaligned89. I remember now. How she came to me. How she begged.”
“No,” I speak with cold conviction. Slice at him again. Tear and rip and ravage. No. My Malorie would never do that. She is not a girl who loses herself in forest forums and other carnivorous fairytales. Who asks internet strangers of strange desires, would you take me apart and transmute me inside you into energy? I feel so weary, so useless all the time. Won’t you put me to good use? Won’t my nutrition, your enjoyment, make me worthy in death and beyond?
Not my Malorie, and not this filthy red-throated wolf. Why would she go to him asking to be eaten when I was right there? Right there with her the whole time through heartbreak, suicide attempts, hospital stays. Rinse and repeat.
I would have shattered and filed my teeth sharp for her flesh, if only she’d asked.
In the end, he does not reveal to me where the rest of my best friend’s body lies. In my red-rage reverie I slashed too hard. This wolf of the forest is no more. I, the only beast remaining.
It’s not hard to find the freezer compartments that hold his bounty of girl. The thigh and shoulder wrapped in wax paper, the carefully labeled tub of bone broth. The diamond-greasy lard. So much of her is already gone. He does not deserve to have my Malorie, my best friend inside his body. But there is time here in the woods for the excising. There are knives to split his hide open, remove every last organ and memory of her taste.
And for me, there is time to cook and eat, perhaps even savor the feast without wolfish eyes roaming across my skin. To lick every last trace of her clean so when we leave this place together, my best friend and I, we may walk as one.
Avra Margariti is a queer author, Greek sea monster, and Rhysling-nominated poet with a fondness for the dark and the darling. Avra’s work haunts publications such as Vastarien, Asimov’s, Liminality, Arsenika, The Future Fire, Space and Time, Eye to the Telescope, and Glittership. “The Saint of Witches”, Avra’s debut collection of horror poetry, is available from Weasel Press. You can find Avra on twitter (@avramargariti).