A Selected Work of Short Fiction


Heatherlie Allison




Some said that she reeked of a heady iron-musk. Like blood just beginning to turn. Some said, “indeed,” blood was what she bathed in—blackened by the bone-char of screech owls on moonless nights. Some said that on those nights, she dined on not only the gentle, unquestioning hearts of lamb, but on the hearts of children. Her favorite: the aching heart of the caterwauling pubescent. As it went through its changes, as it reddened and ripened, crackling, spilling forth exudations of verb and matter—the heart, ever profaned by its own biology—so too, she would reek of its benefit. 


It was said as it was seen—or unseen. Who could say otherwise? 


On the days preceding the disappearance of the moon, all eyes on peripheral streets edging the town’s vital structures, from the high-steepled church to the wide-rambling bank, would follow her steadfast clack, the strong swifting of her hips, timing impeccable, to the town center once a month. The old butchery. The head butcher had said it himself that she would buy up all the heart in stock: pheasant heart, deer heart, wild boar, and so on.  


“Some call heart the cheap meat,” he commented once while inquiring about her purchase with a nervous laugh just before shining his cleaver. But she responded “with a black-as-tar-eyed glare unbroken,” he said, “otherworldly, not of our kind.” She fingered her packages “almost lovingly, cradling like a mother cradles her babe,” he relayed. 


 “Heart is of the Devil and Heart is of the Divine. There is nothing cheap about it, Sir.” That was all she said in return, her voice cadent and clear.