They are coming. The cousins, the aunts, the eyes, the lips, the moving lips, the eating lips, the food-coated mouths.
Biting, breathing, then biting, chewing, gorging. The food covers their faces, their long faces, their smile-swallowed puckers. Eyebrows hidden in grease and fat, sauce, garlic potatoes, bone fragments crunched between teeth and flecked onto the adhesive chin slime. From room to room the crunching sounds of their devouring breath, on and off, soak into the wallpaper, the wood, like gunpowder residue.
Here are their ghosts, the residual hungry souls, the nervous masses eating because eating is universal and common, flat ground that doesn’t frighten so easily, not so sloped as conversation, conversation that puts a stop to the forever chomping and grinding of hearts for evening stew. Egg drop soup, parsley, stuffing, cranberry blood, deadened meat, slack-jawed mourners, hovering people-shaped boxes made of silverware and china.
They are coming with their sounds and visions and wit and dark laughter and hunger. They will soak it all up in their wild hair, beneath fingernails, and hold it as best they can, dripping across the carpet, the floor, the landscape, the whole edible world.
Sheldon Lee Compton’s work has appeared in several journals and anthologies including Emprise Review, Bluestem Magazine and Degrees of Elevation: Short Stories of Contemporary Appalachia. A founder of the journal Wrong Tree Review, he publishes the online journal A-Minor Magazine and works as an editor with the online journal Metazen. Compton survives in Kentucky and keeps house at Bent Country.