hobart logo
weaned photo


Lately: she looks in the mirror and pulls at her eyelashes. Gently, at first, but then harder until finally each eyelash comes off one by one with a thin line of skin attached, like when you peel a clementine without breaking the rind into more than one piece so at the end it hangs from your fingers in a coil like a snake. She moves to her eyelids and pulls them back slowly, then her scalp, her neck, the skin on her shoulders, then her arms, her torso, her legs, her feet, until her skin and fat, the fleshy bits, lie in a puddle at her feet. She looks at herself in the mirror, eyeballs sticking out between sinews of muscle and nerve, filling with water because they are dry because the lids aren’t there to cover them anymore. She looks at herself and tries to blink. She looks at her skin in a puddle on the ground. She pokes the skin pile with the bone of her right big toe. It feels like a trampoline or silly putty or a dead jelly fish. She imagines observing her skin as it goes about its day, like a character in a movie she is watching: making coffee, going to the park, going for a walk, sitting down, pretending to read but actually opening, closing, and re-opening Instagram. The skin isn’t her anymore but she remembers when it felt like it was. She straightens her bones up and walks outside and no one can tell the difference.


She pulls her skin back on and lets herself be smaller and sits down and puts her feet in water and stops looking in the mirror. 


She pulls out pieces of her hair to floss her teeth. Sometimes she pulls out more of her hair than she means to and is surprised. Sometimes she pulls her hair out in handfuls and plants it in the garden so the clumps look like wilted grass and the birds come and take the hair for nests.


Her fascination with flesh started early, with biting, probably because she had been breast-fed for too long, which was not her fault. She loved the texture and the way skin would compress under her teeth when she put her mouth around it. How she had total control over the pressure and what kind of mark she would make. How big, how dark, how she could see the shape of her teeth, how she could decide if she wanted to draw blood or not. But she didn’t really like blood and generally avoided it when she could.
 She hadn’t given the habit much thought until she started seeing a new particular man, and even then it didn’t occupy more than a little of her brain space. But, suddenly, putting her mouth around different parts of his body—not the parts you would expect—became a hobby, a fixation. Not an addiction because it didn’t feel external enough to be an addiction. It was simply an extension of herself, of her own body and being.

Once she realized she could bite his skin she stopped biting her own. She liked chewing on his lips the most. They were thick and soft and he would sit and let her chew on them pensively. If he needed his lips for something like eating or drinking water or being on a work call she would chew on his earlobe, or sometimes his shoulder where she could experiment with leaving different-sized and-shaped and-colored marks. He never minded. Once he had said “ow” but it was very half-hearted. 

She didn’t like chewing on his stomach because there wasn’t enough fat to get her teeth around. She didn’t like chewing on his legs because there was too much hair, or his toes because they were too bony, or his penis because that implied something else and her chewing was explicitly not sexual.

He would sit and read or type and she would take a free finger (he’d learned to type with one hand) and suck on it while she thought about the blood running through the veins of the cats that walked along the fence that separated his yard from the neighbors.
On Wednesday she ate his left ear. It happened slowly, almost without thought, she had been chewing and all of a sudden her mouth felt fuller than usually and she realized that the bottom half of his ear was in the back of her throat and not on his head. It tasted iron-y and crunched more than she’d expected. She paused. He was busy reading. “Do you want more coffee?” she asked. “What?” he said, since she was on his left and that side was now half-earless. She moved to his right. “Would you have more coffee if I made it.” “Oh, sure.” He turned the page in his book. All Quiet on the Western Front. Again!
His favorite. 

She made a fresh pot of coffee, carefully measuring out the six tablespoons—3 per each of their cups— while moving her tongue around the tiny bones (cartilage?) that lingered between her teeth. She pulled down their favorite mugs—his: from the Arches National Park visitor’s center; hers: from her high school ceramics class. She added a teaspoon of whole milk to his and a sliver of unsalted butter, two drops of honey, and cinnamon to hers and brought the coffees back to the bedroom. A small pool of blood had accumulated under his chair where the bottom of his left ear had been. She put their coffees on coasters and her socks in the blood. She watched the red liquid seep satisfyingly into the word “Hanes.”

She didn’t want to eat the top half of his ear since there was nothing chewy about that, so the next day she decided she’d treat herself to his bottom lip. It was luxurious. Fatty, and full and luscious and tasted like exactly the color it was—a rich, rosy, reddish pink. It tasted like late spring and blossoms on the ground and the shaved-ice vendors walking down the blocks of her neighborhood blowing the horns on their carts. It tasted salty like driving to the ocean or having sex in complete darkness. She made it last as long as she could. She kissed his chin and his nose and gave his top lip a loving nibble when it was done. “ow,” he said softly. He was putting on gardening gloves to go pull up the weeds that had sprouted next to the Rhododendrons in the back. 

In the middle of the night she rolled over and slid his right pointer finger into her mouth. She liked it because of the little pad of fat at the bottom of the finger, at the place where it met the rest of his palm. She’d gotten a book on palmistry from the library once and had compared both of their palms to the charts in the book. His marriage line was long and his children lines were clear: three—two boys and one girl. Her marriage lines were broken and her children lines looked like reeds in a swamp. Indecipherable. She sucked the fat pad into her mouth in one clean bite. He sleepily batted at his nose and let out a small sigh. Maybe he was dreaming. 

Four days later she came home from work, took off her boots, and found him crying quietly in the living room. It was hard for him to eat because she’d had his top lip at breakfast, and now food wasn’t staying in his mouth. He sat on the sofa surrounded by a pile of things he’d tried to consume. Tears rolled down his face. He sniffed and wiped a small trail of snot with his blue flannel. She clicked her teeth sadly and moved some half chewed sausage aside to sit next to him. One by one she kissed away each of his tears, taking his big warm hands into hers. 

She took bites out of his ass cheek while he made them chicken marsala. She dreamily chewed on the fat underneath his thighs —there wasn’t much, but she found some—while he opened them a bottle of mid-priced wine. When they sat down to eat she took the seat next to, rather than across from, him so that she could lean in and suck on his tongue whenever the impulse struck her. He watched her eat, since he was on a liquid diet now. He talked about the article on congestion pricing he’d read in The New Yorker that morning. She worried about the fat he might lose now that he wasn’t eating solids anymore. She chewed a piece of chicken and baby birded it into his mouth. She drank her white wine through a reusable metal straw. She went for a walk after dinner.
By the time she got to his chest she was prepared and excited. Most of his ears were gone, both of his cheeks, his right bicep, his backside, seven of his fingers. She straddled him with a steak knife and one of the forks his mother had given him from his grandmother’s nice silver set that no one knew what to do with after she died. He looked up at her. “It’s okay,” he said. “But please don’t forget to water the outside basil.” She looked out the window. The basil plant looked beautiful. It was flourishing. It had almost died that winter but he’d coaxed it back to life with a mixture of fertilizers, growth stimulants, grow lights, and Mozart. He played the classical station for the plant every morning while he got ready for work. Sometimes he would hum along but only if he wasn’t running late. “It’s not going to rain until next Tuesday,” he said. He was worried. “Okay,” she said. “I’ll remember.” She knew she wouldn’t remember, and he knew too, but her words seemed to soothe him anyway. He nodded and closed his eyes while she cut a bite-sized piece of skin and muscle out of the left side of his chest.

Afterwards, she put more food in the cat’s bowl and walked to the park to see the sunset.  She sat cross-legged and stuck her fingers—all ten of them—in the dirt. It was damp. She watched a couple kissing on a picnic blanket not far from where she was sinking closer to the center of the earth, the white-hot core part that everyone sees in sixth grade science class when they show you the cut-in-half model globes. When she was almost completely beneath the topsoil, only her eyes peeking out through the baby-seedling grass, she watched the couple touch noses and giggle. She blinked twice. The sun had gone down and now it was cold. No one had brought an extra sweater to give her when she inevitably forgot her own. The woman ran her tongue along the man’s front teeth, which were bared, because he was smiling. They pushed their tongues into each other’s open mouths. Tongues are not very long, she thought. Once she was safely enveloped by the earth, she filled her mouth with her fingers and sucked the wet soil from underneath her nails, one by one, feeling the grit of the sediment between her teeth. She sucked them until they were clean again. She rested her eyes. Later, she crawled upwards. The couple and their blanket were gone. She walked, approximately, in the direction of home.