THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE WHO BEG YOU FOR LOVE
Mercy has so many brothers and sisters she doesn’t know about and in her dreams she sees them.
Mercy has had so many brothers and sisters but her mother got rid of them all.
Mercy used to cut herself into five pieces every night and lay a piece of herself on every nightstand in the house. Sometimes her father would eat a piece before bed like communion, a pill. Sometimes her father would eat a piece after dinner before she had given a piece of herself to everyone else because he was selfish sometimes. Sometimes Mercy’s father wanted all of her Mercy and so he would take four pieces and line them up like truffles and eat slowly. Sometimes Mercy’s father would eat none of them and stare at them all night. Those are the nights he did not sleep well. Those are the nights that sleep never came for anyone in the house.
But when the brothers and sisters multiplied there would not be a enough of Mercy to go around and so Mercy would have to cut herself up into even smaller pieces but those would not be enough so she would hear her brothers and sisters moan and wail all night until they got more which wouldn’t be until the next night.
On normal nights there was plenty of Mercy to go around so she would cut herself into five pieces, one for her father, one for her mother, one for her brother, one for herself and one for Caroline, she would place it on her windowsill and wait for her to arrive and if she didn’t she would have a stockpile of pieces of Mercy at her disposal.
THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE WHO BEG YOU FOR LOVE
Mercy is invited to go to Kodiak, Alaska, Patrick moved there for a job in the woods in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. The pictures are breathtaking, she writes in an email, even though he wrote her on paper with a pencil so when the letter finally arrived some of the words were faded, she had to read it under a microscope. There is no Wi-Fi in the mountains of Kodiak, where he is, but she insisted on writing an email, dating it as if it mattered, addressing it to him in the corner of the screen to his cabin. He said he only picked up his mail every two weeks, anyway. Dear Patrick, Mercy writes, Dear Patrick.
Dreams of killing. Stab. Repeat. Stab. Repeat.
When she was in middle school, the feeling of wanting to kill one of her mother’s many husbands. The night her mother and this man yelled at each other in his big house for hours until he came downstairs in a rage, and grabbed something from his tool room. Remember, Mercy. Mercy remembers the feeling in her body of acquiescing to a trade-off: her life for her mother’s. What did he grab and where is he going. A rich motherfucker like that, he can get away with some shit, Mercy thought, there are three mine shafts on his property alone.
Mercy remembers grabbing a pair of scissors and a claw hammer. She is shaking, involuntarily crying, not weeping, but choking back tears, not calmly at all: I resign my life. Tonight is the night I go to prison forever. Good-bye future, good-bye college, good-bye boys that taste like Southern Comfort in black hooded sweatshirts that blend with the sky around bonfire parties. Kiss me, kiss me, c’mon they say. They always prod. Mercy freezes. Kiss me, kiss me. Mercy does not know how to say no yet. She doesn’t say it often. She will learn someday but not yet so kiss me kiss me becomes hands up her shirt. Becomes.
Tremble. Choke tears. Skip one stair step. Skip two. Many leaps. On top of stairs. Looking down. What if he fell. Accident. The dogs are barking. Skip two more stair steps. Listen. Two more stair steps. Back against banister. Shadow. Listen. Yell. Slam door. Choke. Bark. Slam. Bark.
Mother is fine. Mercy, look, your mother is in the guest bathroom washing her face, cursing under her breath about that man she married. Mercy pukes in her mouth, the claw hammer hits her knee lightly before landing silently on the step below her. This awful carpet, smells like a pet store in here. Mother is fine. Mother’s husband is outside, drinking vodka from the neck of the bottle, in his undershorts, in his Bass Pro Shops beach chair.
Mercy feels this feeling again tonight, Dear Patrick, do you remember one of my mother’s ex-husbands has three mine shafts on his property, do you think there are bodies in those mine shafts? Patrick once told her that there are things every man on the planet carries inside of him that he does not let anyone in on, he said that his are particular in that he can’t even speak about them, there are statutes of limitations on certain things but not others, what does that even mean, Mercy said but Patrick did not answer.