Originally published in Transfer Magazine Issue 117, Spring 2019
Buttermilk shaken. Flour sifted. Shortening frozen. Baking soda clouded. Mix with your hands. You’ve never hit anyone before but you hurt this dough with your fists. You will do this over and over again, until the fight goes out of you, again. Violence is how we suppress in this family.
“You don’t love me anymore,” his whiskey breath accuses in your ear, an old trick.
Move your hands faster. Ignore him. Scrape up the edges of dough. Rough. Shaggy. Craggy cracks cracking. Poke them with a finger, push them back together. You and he. Forcibly bound. Till death do you part.
“I do. I always have.”
Suddenly you have biscuits. Section them into eight pieces and place in a buttered baking dish.
Hands are slapped down on either side of your arms. He moves closer, pressing his chest into your spine.
“Tell me you love me. I need to hear you say it.”
Take cold cream and maple syrup you had put in that bowl, reach over his wrist and whisk with an ugly heart.
His left hand moves to your waist and pinches the soft flesh exposed by your shirt, a warning. Answer me.
Brush the maple cream on top, massage into crevices, wipe the edges clean.
You are not here. You are grains of wheat, molecules of milk, swirling granules of salt waiting to be transformed by fire.
The purer you are, the easier you are to bend to someone else’s will. He tells you no one will want you after he’s through with you and you believed him because the Church said the same thing. Damaged goods. God’s plan. Disposable girl.
“You’re hurting me,” you say. You are on fire.