A praying mantis makes slow, fluid motions on a low hanging tree branch. Like a dancer in molasses, its limbs are methodically controlled. The fly is enchanted. The fly is at ease. The mantis launches forward and snatches it. The mantis rushes the fly to its mouth and kills it.
Paul puffed a bent cigarette in a corner of the old house. The big man nearly enveloped the entire corner of the room. He wasn’t supposed to be smoking in inside, he wasn’t supposed to be smoking at all, but he was feeling belligerent. He had said 5:30 and he meant 5:30 and Amber was an hour late. He wasn’t going to hit her. He wasn’t that kind of man, but still he curled and uncurled the fist that was free of the cigarette. The door slammed downstairs and Paul stood instinctively. He took his seat again. She knew where he was and he’d let her come to him.
A mountain lion moves slowly through the tall, swaying grass of some sun-dried wilderness waiting to catch fire. The pads of her feet make shallow impressions in the dirt and eagerness makes her sloppy. She moves closer than common sense would dare, but the antelope does not run. She is encouraged. She launches forward and tackles the antelope to the ground. It kicks wildly as she clumps down on its neck, cutting off its airway and breaking its neck.
Her high heels clicked loudly through the empty house as she called Paul’s name. He didn’t answer, he wanted her to find him. She pressed her fingers against the door and let it swing open slowly.
“I was calling for you.” Amber said with a note of irritation. Paul didn’t reply to this. It felt like a goad. It felt like she wanted him mad. They’d been married for over a year. They’d been together of over four and he’d never raised his voice. He’d been taught to use his words. He’d been taught that gentlemen never struck women. He’d been taught to turn the other cheek. There was red blush of Amber’s cheeks.
A beaten Pit Bull sees an opened gate and slips out onto the street while his owner sleeps under his kitchen table. The flea ridden and hunger dog moves down an alleyway where a little black child plays with a scuffed basketball. The boy had only ever seen the dog behind a gate and had always wanted a dog. He extends a hand to pet the dog’s dirty, tortured flesh. The dog bites without any thought and the child screams in blind horror and pain.
She was getting on Paul about him smoking in the house, about him smoking at all. He silenced her with two words. He said these two words with a firm, steady tone.
“My Child.” She smiled and he wasn’t sure if she was about to laugh at him or if she was smiling because of nerves.
“What are you talking about?”
“My child. DR. Calvin called your office and Jane called your cell phone. She couldn’t get you there, so she called the house.”
“Paul…” She started.
“Without consoling me.”
“It’s my body…”
“BULLSHIT! IT’S MY CHILD!”
A husband slaps him wife and has for years. She falls to the kitchen floor in a showering of burnt scrambled eggs. She screams and cradles her head as the pan cracks against the floor near the back of her head. She breaks into shaky tears and the husband spits on her in annoyance. His spit smells of beer as it normally does. It rolls across the bridge of her nose and she grips the frying pan. She stands as he walks toward the refrigerator for another beer, but he never makes it. She brings the frying pan across the back of his head.
Paul hadn’t realized that he was standing and that he’d advanced a few steps.
“It wasn’t your baby.” Amber said with a trembling voice. Paul couldn’t process the omission she’d let fly, but he was sure that she was trying to get him mad. His fists were balled and his muscles were tensed. Paul’s breaths were shuttering and strained. Amber was reaching into her purse, but Paul wasn’t paying attention to that. He was trying to will his arms to remain at his side. He failed and Amber shot him in the stomach. He fell to his knees and the rage faded from his eyes. A tear rolled from his eye and Amber dropped the gun on the oak floor panelling. She caught his weight before he could fall all the way to the floor.
A mantis makes slow, fluid motions on a low hanging branch. A mountain lion moves slowly through the tall, swaying grass of some sun-dried wilderness waiting to catch fire. A beaten Pit Bull sees an opened gate and slips out onto the street while his owner sleeps under his kitchen table. A husband slaps him wife and has for years.
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