This selection is from Mary McMyne’s chapbook, Wolf Skin.
“A huntsman was just passing by. He thought it strange that the old woman
was snoring so loudly, so he decided to take a look.”
—Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm (tr. Ashliman)
Inside, the shadows shape a riddle, a story. The half-burnt candle in the kitchen,
the unwashed dishes. The cloth-covered basket by the door. From the hook on the wall,
neatly hung, the red ripple of fabric. The crackling fire. The light flickering in the hall.
In the bedroom someone is sleeping. At the foot of the bed, two well-worn slippers.
On the side table, one book. One pair of spectacles.
Night fills the room like cradlesong.
There it is again, that strange buzzing sound. There it is again, from the bed. Such
a little old woman could not make this noise. When the log falls into the fire, and
the light hits the shape under the blankets, when the log falls into the fire, and
you see the claw dragging the floor, you have already begun to rush at the bed
with your scissors, you have already resolved to slit the beast open, the word hero
stinging your tongue –
In the story you tell your friends, you’ll say you took home the wolf skin as a trophy.
You’ll say the old woman thanked you, and the girl went on about how frightened
she was. But the truth is the girl spoke only three words that day: Who are you?
The truth is the grandmother only whispered, white with shock, as she drank the wine:
We were dead. It was dark when you left the grandmother’s house, and cold.
When you tried on the wolf skin, the stars laughed. Dead leaves crackled
under your feet like fire.
Mary McMyne is the author of Wolf Skin, a chapbook (dancing girl press, 2014). She grew up in south Louisiana, studying English and creative writing at Louisiana State University before moving to the east coast to study fiction. Since earning her MFA from New York University, her poems and stories have appeared in Word Riot, Pedestal Magazine, Painted Bride Quarterly, Los Angeles Review, New Delta Review, and many other publications. Her criticism has appeared in American Book Review. Her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Rhysling Award, and her fiction has won the Faulkner Prize for a Novel-in-Progress and a Sustainable Arts Foundation Promise Award. Since 2011, she has lived in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan, where she is co-editor of the journal Border Crossing and an assistant professor at Lake Superior State University. Learn more at marymcmyne.com.
Meagan Cass is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Illinois Springfield, where she teaches courses in creative writing, independent publishing, and composition, curates the Shelterbelt reading series, and advises the campus literary journal, the Alchemist Review. Her fiction has appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Pinch, Hobart Web, PANK, and Puerto del Sol, among other journals. Magic Helicopter Press will publish her first fiction chapbook, Range of Motion, in January 2014. She holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisiana Lafayette and an MFA in fiction from Sarah Lawrence College.