Two Fictions
Caren Beilin

Instructions on the Screen Door

Stop in your tracks. Have you washed the blood off of your body? On the porch is a hose and a towel. Get the blood off your fingers or at least from dripping. Bring no animals forth: that are not cleaned. Plastic bags are a dollar. Get the blood out of the animals. Kill all animals before entering with them. On the deck is a pump, on the gazebo a gun, the terrace, a knife. Cut out their tongues so as not to drag slime in. Leave the tongues in the watery barrel as pink pickles. Wad gauze at the top of the throat. There is gauze, whips, photography in the shed. If you don't after all want your dead animal in the bedroom (there is adrenalin in the bathroom, needles in the mudroom), or in the kitchen, or any uncarpeted place (not the foyer, not our quarters, not the library requiring carpet to hush the plum-topical books) or if you need gloves (the pantry) a mask (the attic, stacked in the umber center) or if you need help (the phone, the downstairs closet), there are personal knife lockers, but we don't have the Internet (figure it out, or ask us, by black button, the stairs), or if you are in need of psychological counsel that your animal does not give you, though your heart suckles on its unctuous eyes, though your mind takes the pill of its life, you may go to the root cellar, where there are onions.


You reintroduced me to yourself under the pretense that we remembered each other but forgot names, but you used a new name. Your new name was much worse than your old name, which rhymed with a popular ancient bird so much that to call it out was to sing in another language. I called it out, in your arms, and you carried yourself imperial and inhuman and divinized as if you were the moon but couldn't confess it, and it was so curious that I always saw you during the day, and had never heard of your name before. Now, your name is much more human and American. I ran into you at night, with a woman, and you seemed to be drinking again. I told you the same name as I had then, but you looked surprised by it, as if you remembered something so strange. You looked at the ground impatiently as though I used to be a bird.