Butchering Women

Really, the whole operation was Wendy’s idea. Wendy’s smartest. We all went to the same university, but she was valedictorian. Always in science labs, playing with test tubes, talking to professors. Wendy’s our ringleader. Fawn does flavoring. Riva does research. I do acquisitions.

Wendybird! I tickle her neck at the register.

We kiss twice on the mouth, and I tell her about our newest acquisition.

Later today, I promise. At nightfall.

A group of young girls come into the shop. Their faces are bedazzled and they lament a loss of one of their own, to a neighboring clique.

You need Power. I pet the smallest girl’s hair. It frizzes at my fingertips like static.

They leave with several helpings and lips curling upwards.

I walk into the backroom and see Fawn and Riva sampling product.

Girls! I tell them. This is not how one runs a business.

Don’t tell Wendy, Riva says.

We couldn’t help ourselves, says Fawn, blood dribbling from her mouth.

You’re not supposed to eat it raw, I tell her.

Oh shut up, she says.

We work late because of the acquisition. Wendy fiddles at the register. Fawn and Riva nap on the floor, their bodies propped against each other like kittens.

I watch Wendy and wonder how she would taste. Wendy, wendy, wendy, like cinnamon spice meets daffodils and desire. Just one bite from her shoulder blade. Just one!

We watch the sky darken. Our acquisition arrives shortly after, brought in through the back, by men whose faces are covered. It’s in a large trash bag, incapacitated.

Fawn, I say, kicking her awake. Up to you, of course, but I predict notes of severity, putrefaction, and contempt.

I pull down the trash bag and reveal the acquisition.

Fawn and Riva gasp into each other, then giggle.

Damnit! Wendy screams. She goes to the acquisition and slaps him lightly on the face. Howard?

She glares at me. You can’t do this every time.

He’s not good enough for you, I whisper.

Whatever! Wendy lifts her arms in exasperation. But this is the last time.

In the morning, we advertise our newest product at the front of our display case. Maleficence, Fawn decided.

Children pack into the shop, desperate for a taste. Then couples with lives too perfect, yearning for darker flavors. Riva and Fawn agree that the taste is most potent. Wendy refuses to try it. I refuse in solidarity.

Except I go into the back and have a sample—positively vile.

Wendybird! I slither up to the register and kiss her on the lips. Taste that?

You’re despicable, she says, sliding a twenty from the register into her pocket.

And you’re a thief. Our bodies press into each other.

Careful, she says. Or I’ll butcher you next.

I kiss her nose. Not if I butcher you first.

We kiss and we kiss and a line of customers fills the store, spilling out into the street.

Skyler Melnick
Skyler Melnick

​Skyler Melnick is an MFA candidate for fiction at Columbia University. She writes about sisters playing catch with their grandfather’s skull, boarding schools full of murderous children, headless towns, and mildewing mothers. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Flash Fiction Magazine, Grim & Gilded, Moon City Review, and elsewhere.