Lora Gray



it's the lungs and liver,

carved carefully

from his body,

served wet and raw

on silver platters

or boiled deep into stews

where the human flavor

can hide beneath onions

and ribbons

of pale duck fat.

But these days, he says,

it's almost always the heart and,

because a boar's heart

will “never do,”

he steers the knife into




When he lifts his shirt,

you see the purple scars,

the dimpled sag of his sternum,

where his ribs have resigned

to breaking.

You know you are not the first

to press this blade into him,

but you don't expect it to sink

like a spade through moss.

Muscles sigh,

cartilage crackles,

and he splits


like rotting wood.


His heart isn't tethered

to the dark and spongy

cavity of his torso.

When he leans forward,

it rocks

in its pulpy cradle

until it



and lands at your feet.

It isn't beating.

It's breathing

like children sleep,

with stillness sewn between

inhale exhale inhale exhale

and you wonder what

his heart will dream of when he

finally closes it in that horrid

little box.

Of blood?

Or the clean

swing of an ax?


Should you thank him for not killing you?


He has grown this heart for you,

after all,

even though you aren't the first.

You are the fifth.

The tenth.

The hundredth.

He does not look at you

as he stitches

himself closed,

thick needle puckering

seams into flesh

like a smile

or a scream.


When you were fifteen

you met a boy with an orchard of teeth

sprouting from roof of his mouth.

When you kissed him,

there were infinite molars

beneath your tongue,

entrenched and

terrifying and


You imagine this man's

ribs like fruit trees,

heart after

heart after


dropping into the

soil of his body,


and tasteless

as winter apples

and you wonder:

if you had not


this one,

would it have

taken root?

LORA GRAY’s fiction and poetry can be found in Strange Horizons, Shimmer and Flash Fiction Online among other places. They currently live in Northeast Ohio with a handsome husband and a freakishly smart cat named Cecil. You can find Lora online at

Back to Issue 4 - Fall / Winter 2017