Mum always said the best way to win someone’s heart was to take it.
“Don’t wait baby girl,” she’d say, “you get there first. You be the one to rip it out.” And she’d clench her fists, red polish and diamonds winking at me.
First, I tried to make you mine with candy floss. Gossamer strands of sugar bound our teenage lips together at the top of the Ferris wheel. High above the revellers and sequins of light, my stomach flipped and floated. You promised me then, said you’d be everything I needed, carved my name into your arm.
The heart is a muscle, does it strengthen with love and wither with hate? Or does it not matter, only that it is fed?
We’d been married a year when you needed a snack, some fast food. You said it was a mistake, you were sorry, it wouldn’t happen again. I sealed my mind away from any treacherous thoughts about past and present. Instead I trod a well-worn path to your stomach in hope. I served myself up to you as roasts and casseroles and steaks. And that one time, you ate sushi off me – soy sauce in my navel, wasabi branding my nipples.
I used to press my head to your chest. The thud-thud reassuring me that if you were alive, I was alive. One heart, beating love around two bodies.
It happened again. I guess it was always happening, I’d just blinkered myself to the truth. I wasn’t feeding you what you needed. I couldn’t do it then, bone tired, nourishing our children with my blood and my body and my milk. I didn’t have anything left for you except take away menus and microwave meals. It never occurred to you that I needed to eat too.
Someone else is feeding you now. Tying themselves to you with meat and bones and all the things that beat beneath the flesh. We are out with the waste – the used tea bags, the first wife, the coffee grounds, the children, the vegetable peelings, the good wedding china and crystal.
I should have taken mum’s advice all those years ago. So here I am now, spreading the bony cage of your ribs apart, releasing your heart from its dark web of sinew. My table is laid ready. You’re all the sustenance I need.
Rebecca Williams has had pieces in Zero Flash, EllipsisZine, The Cabinet of Heed, Retreat West and Spelk amongst others and is currently working on a novel. Her favourite authors include Bret Easton Ellis, Margaret Atwood and Alice Hoffman. She is also a senior editor for The Best of British & Irish Flash Fiction 2018-2019 list. You can find her on Twitter @stupidgirl45.