Whit had been standing in the frozen meat aisle for a few minutes before he noticed her, reflected in the glass of the freezer door he was analyzing meats through. She was large, enormous even, her image taking up the entirety of the door’s glass and leaking over into the frames beside it. Her clothes were at least three sizes too small and her hair, shown in crude detail as she turned to study her own meat selection, was thinning in some patches and unevenly overgrown in others. Whit paused in place, held by the image mirrored in the frost, amazed at the arduousness of her movements and the scrutiny with which she treated each slab. Backwards, her likeness picked up and tossed aside countless ribs, breasts, and tenderloins, urgently scanning each one for some level of perfection, perhaps some sign of juiciness, which they each, in turn, appeared to be lacking.
Coming to the bottom of the shelves, she bent over, an impossible angle that all but mooned Whit as he gawked with sickened fascination at the creature—because she could only be a creature, squished into the garb of what she perceived humans to look like, her creature-skin spilling over the edges of the fabric and suffocating it, preventing it from doing its duty providing some sort of coverage, some kind of protection in the land of cold cuts. At the very last piece of freezer-burned flesh seized from the back corner she sniffed in ecstatic pleasure, her large nose pressed into the flimsy wrapping and coming away covered in icicles. Without bothering to open the sealed container, the she-creature fell onto the floor with the sound of slapping skin, the misty door stuck against her face and the ever-spilling tissue of her form as she tore into the piece of meat, massive teeth ripping and chewing and devouring the icy rack of ribs from the foam base. When the meat was consumed, she dumped the foam down her throat, torn wrapper and all, licking her thick fingers in delight. Her eyes, which had been closed throughout the eating process, now opened and zeroed in on Whit’s.
Black holes, bigger even than her mass, bleeding into each other and drowning Whit in their waters. He swung around to face her, the corporeal her, to fend off the darkness of the hunger of the she-creature.
He swung around and there was no one there. No one in the frozen meat aisle but himself. The freezer door in front of him was closed, the chunks of meat untouched in their places. He exhaled and his breath was frost in the air.
As White exited the store without purchasing any meat, without purchasing any food at all, he stopped to tear a clear wrapper from the sole of his shoe, tiny melting icicles dripping from its ripped surface and clinging to his shaking fingers.
Taylor Lea Hicks is a writer, editor, teacher, and proud Whedonite hailing from the south. She has her MFA from Stony Brook Southampton, and in 2016 she was the runner-up for the SNHU Fall Fiction award. Her work has been published in Gandy Dancer, The Portland Review, and TSR – The Southampton Review, among others. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @taylorleahicks or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.