I have just returned from a week of teaching at BYU's Writing for Children Conference. I had a fabulous class and our last project together was to assemble a story from THE NEW YORKER magazine fictions. We borrowed phrases and whole sentences to make an "original" short fiction. Our only requirements were 1) it must contain the word "butter," and 2) it must have sexual tension.
This is what we came up with (title above) :
I was in love with a man named Cuthbert, origin unknown. And oh, that man could really eat. He would go home and sculpt his butter. On these nights of low moon, Cuthbert, of a more unstable temperment, began to do weird things:
"I was thinking we could duct tape the child," he said.
"The boy is hungry, I said.
"Is it because of the cancer?" Cuthbert asked.
"That was crap," I said. "That was negative."
"Do you want some dessert?"
"Have you been drinking from the wine bowl again?"
The boy was sleeping. We had brought back the morphine for his pain. He was rarely awake and not very happy when he was.
Cuthbert ran around in his skivvies, to no avail. "Don't worry about it, Ignatia." He held a hand against his ribs.
It was a depressing sight.
"You've let yourself go," Cuthbert said.
I grew furious and plotted my revenge. I decided to kill him.
The whole thing happened almost too fast to be real. I threw a butterfly net over his head. Cuthbert tore at the net and clawed at his face.
"So Daddy. Isn't this cozy?" I whispered.
"What are you talking about?" Cuthbert yelled. "I'm miserable."
He yanked the net off his head. Frozen in the hard spotlight, he looked old, crazy and forlorn. An intense discomfort settled on the room. There was one false note, one shadow: the moon.
"I'm kicking you out of the house," I said.
Just at that moment, the animals at the zoo next door began to growl.
I reached beneath the boy's pillow and found the perfectly dreamed weapon: an old lanyard.
"What a terrible gift you have given me," I said to my husband.
"I always knew you were a lesbian, you with your one boob."
I should have said something cold. Instead, I stretched the lanyard.
Cuthbert knew I was in a position to injure him. He let me do what I wanted. Too old be aroused by pleasure, I sought pain. I circled behind him and pulled the lanyard against his throat. The winding required a huge effort. The lanyard closed against his spine with a dry sound--crack!
At the zoo, seals barked, large cats danced on their hind legs, and birds followed them by the dozen.
Cuthbert slumped down to the bed, where the boy was sweating and sleeping--dreaming of something unpleasant.
And for the first time, I thought of Cuthbert as a lover, possibly dying.
Goodbye to the life I would never have.