Can’t help you there, came the man. Time to come on out from there.

Dirt on his tongue. She’s in there. Dirt in his eyes.

That ain’t her no more, said the man.

All that dirt in her breaths. Deirdre and the candy pink of her toenails. Deirdre and them dirty feet. Tiptoeing across the porch just the night before. Ruined blade in his hands, shimmering useful as a fish. Gerald at the chipped white kitchen table, night after night these ninety-two days. Crackers cheese beer, all that silence and chewing, the television and its noises. Loneliness a nightly death, bed a burial. All this dirt, all that wood. The sound of her voice, even that gone? Gerald’s cremated heart, Gerald’s aching burned up heart. Nothing but urn left now. Gerald meaning to say, She’s alive and she can’t breathe, thinking how most of the time he hated her, that mean mouth, he missed that hate, its absence a hacked up emptiness, Gerald meaning to say She’s alive and she can’t breathe, Gerald saying I’m alive and I can’t breathe.

She would get huge slabs of carcass from best-beloved cattle. Smooth marbled flesh. She would hang these in a specially prepared cellar and frighten herself with their bodies and pungency in the dark. She would buy up old china tea sets, the kind so thin they seem unwell and you fear to hold them. She would never have anything but fires on and drink beef broth to stave all fevers. She would keep a collection of artisan knives and cut the meat for hanging on an antique clockwork roaster that would dangle the carcass part over the fire. She would watch the carcass become meat as it cooked in the huge yellow tiled kitchen. She would eat handfuls of the meat, cooled, bloody, in the salon, all alone, with the window letting in humid air off The Channel. Plush in a chair, chewing. Vases of lilies on coffee tables too high to see if she had guests.