©2009—dedicated, with blame, to Jeremy C. Shipp.
There is a shrew that it lives in my head. Its teeth are sharp and its eyes are red. It doesn’t like rhymes. I don’t like the shrew.
I get my pocketknife and take my sister into the woods behind our house.
“Where are we going?” she asks.
“It’s a secret.”
“C’mon, tell me.”
“It’s a surprise.”
“A secret surprise?”
We get to the secret surprise spot in the woods and I tell her to lie down and shut her eyes.
She giggles, wiggling like a grub.
I sit next to her and open the pocketknife. The shrew climbs out of my head, excited to be fed. I grab it by the tail. It bites my hand but I hold on.
“Open your mouth,” I tell my sister.
“You’ll put a bug in it!”
“Nuh huh. Just do it.”
She does. She trusts me.
I drop the shrew in my sister’s mouth.
It chews through the back of her throat and crawls into her head. My big brother did that to me when he got tired of the shrew. I trusted him, but not any more. I hope he’s happy buried under the pine trees.
I’m happy now that the shrew is not in my head.
My sister sits up and looks at me. I hand her the pocketknife.
“It’s hungry for hearts,” I say.
She cries. “Do I have to?”
The shrew will eat the inside of her head and the rest of her from the inside out if she doesn’t.
I don’t tell her hearts taste worse than green beans. She won’t believe me. I didn’t believe my big brother when he told me, either.
It’s mean to give her the shrew, but I can’t kill Daddy.
I’m very, very sorry, sis.
There is a shrew that it lives in my sister’s head. Its teeth are sharp and its eyes are red. The shrew likes rhymes. My sister doesn’t.
I lie down, shut my eyes, and let my sister feed the shrew.