Becoming, a short story by Kate Weinberg

Becoming, a short story by Kate Weinberg
(Image credit: Kate Weinberg)

Becoming 

By

Kate Weinberg 

 

Jonathon doubted I could become a horse and so I didn’t show him the bottoms of my feet growing coarser. In bed, I kicked away from him and covered my mouth when he fucked me from behind, because I couldn’t moan anymore without whinnying slightly.

He didn’t notice at first—he never noticed much. He ate with his face turned down to the plate and always using one specific fork from the cutlery drawer; he was like a child in this way, and I humored him because I understood that he held onto those things that made him feel safe because he was otherwise scared. The fork with three tines and the outline of little daisies carved into its handle. That was Jonathon’s fork.

                                                +

I’d woken three months earlier, heart-poundy, from a dream that made me understand all that I was not but needed to become in order to feel whole. It was the same dream I’d had, recurrently, as a child but had been forced to ignore. And then it was back.

In the dream, I was a horse. With a long mane that shone gold with twitches of chlorine blue when the sun came up behind it and a heaviness in my limbs that felt stable and serene. My heart was large inside my barrel chest, and I slept standing up, surrounded by smells of dirt and the hot sun smells of grass and of sun, and with the stars waiting to be licked up by my giant tongue. My tongue rolled out of my mouth against my teeth, lazy like molasses rolling down tree bark. I wasn’t worried about anything, and there wasn’t death to think about. I felt certain of my place. That was all it was. Being a large thing in a wide-open place and not wondering what else you were meant for. Feeling lonely but in a sweet way, an edifying way.

I’d once confessed the dream to my mother who’d smacked the back of my head and then told me, gently, to be sensible, rubbing my head after she smacked it. I was a girl with long, slender limbs and a refrigerator full of whole fruit. I had a black maid who folded my clothes like it was the nineteen-fifties, or the twenties, or the eighteen-twenties, and a four-poster day bed with a canopy and eight full pillows. I needed for nothing.

So I did. Become sensible. Went to school and was not a horse because I was a girl. A girl with a small mouth and a somewhat higher-than-normal gum-ridge who did as she was told, who grew breasts and shaved the hair from her legs and armpits and pubis and plucked it sometimes from her chin when people noticed and screwed their faces up at the injustice and unwelcome coarseness of it all.

Jonathan didn’t like hair, and was glad I was a girl who removed it, regularly, for money and for pain and for smooth.

                                                +

When the dream came again, and persisted, I tried, again, to ignore it. Every morning, I woke and brushed and cleaned away what wasn’t meant for my girl body with cold water and boiled soap stuffed with little fancy bits of shit like lavender and oat rusk, but it came roaring against me anyway.

Jonathon, I’m becoming something new, I told him one morning. It was raining out, and he’d shut the window I’d left open through the night so I could smell the air rising from the trees. I slid out of the white sheets of our bed and opened it again as he sat up and watched me, frowning. He wanted to know what I meant. He told me to shut the window because it was raining and it would warp the wood. I told him about the dream, and then he laughed and his laugh was sideways and made me think of how much he loved that fucking fork with the daisies, probably more than he loved me.

I’m going to become a horse, I said. I was very serious. And I don’t think I’ll be able to live here with you once I do.

We both watched the buildings outside shoulder the rain. They were getting pummeled, but they could do nothing about it but stand there.

Jonathon rustled in the sheets and sighed very deeply. Whatever you want, he said, rolling his eyes back like people do when they don’t think what you say means much. Do whatever you want.

                                                                        +

It’s hard not to wrap my whole mouth around things I’m not supposed to. When he fucks me, it’s hard not to bash my head down sharply into the bed like it’s grass, or a big wet pouch of iron-y mud. Sometimes I do, and the pleasure of it is immense, like running naked into the ocean at night in summertime when the moon is fat and hot white. When you start to change, little things take you by surprise—like how much water you suddenly need to drink, and how heavy and hairy your legs have become. Jonathon doesn’t notice my hooves developing because he doesn’t want to. I haven’t decided yet whether or not I will get shoed—different Internet forums recommend different things. In the end, the only difference becomes the sound you make as you trot; it’s whether or not you want to attract attention, and then it’s just money. Showing off.

Some people worry they are making bestiality-practitioners of their lovers without their consent. Some do it for people they love. No one does it lightly or for nothing. It’s not that kind of choice. One man is becoming a badger for his Swedish boyfriend.

I tell Jonathon this, and he says nothing, ignoring the neighing sound at the back of my throat, the tossing of my long, silky hair after I say it. He’s eating dinner out of a scalloped plastic container and he’s only got eyes for fork.

 

A little bit more about Kate Weinberg... 

Kate is an artist, performer, writer, and educator living in Brooklyn, NY. Her poems and stories have appeared, or are forthcoming, in places like Armchair/Shotgun, BlazeVOX, and the San Pedro River Review; she has also published two Young Adult murder-mysteries under a pseudonym. She is a graduate of DePaul University's Theatre School, and misses Chicago all the time. Except in Winter.

 

Filed under: Prose/Poetry, Submissions

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