He decided to celebrate. There had been a new addition to the family. It sat at the kitchen table, lapping up spilled milk with a tongue like long, twisted licorice, which shone darkly under the kitchen lights. He had welcomed it into his life only a few short days ago, and already it had eaten dead patches into the air in his home.
Sometimes, he wondered if the dead patches had something to do with Lily. She was the one who had stood in those places, painting her poems onto the walls like protection spells. Now, when he came too close, his lungs collapsed in on themselves. There was no more oxygen left to breathe.
He didn’t mind the empty air that much. At least now he wasn’t so lonely. The creature was not him, or the friendly neighbor who brought over frozen casseroles, or his worried cousin, or Lily. And yet, it deserved a feast. He shuffled through the chest in what was once their room for something he could give it. It would eat anything, but he wanted it to be full. Soon, dying plants and dog-eared books stacked up on the table, and it wrapped its mouth around them all, gurgling. Sharp book corners pressed against the thin skin of its mouth. The crunch of their spines was deafening, and by the time its jaw could close, he was once again standing in empty air. The ground wobbled beneath him, and there was a short knock at the door. It was too late. The celebration could no longer be stopped. He had piled on letters and bedsheets, paintbrushes and tubes of lipstick, all one final, graceful meal. The knocking was only getting louder. Then, he heard the handle turn.
“Please shut the door,” he called. The beast finished off the last drops of ink, and footsteps creaked through the floor.
“Shut the door,” he called more desperately, barely able to breathe. No one was supposed to be there. “Shut the door!”
No one should have been there but the creature. He set a palm flat on the table, then an arm. There was only one way to finish the feast.
Kate Mollinedo is a sophomore currently studying creative writing in the Pacific Northwest. She is the founder of New Lore Magazine, and enjoys translating Wikipedia articles and making films in her spare time.