The Butcher

His hands reflect his trade. The weight and size of hams, as pink as the pork he rolls in peppercorns. He is pristine, always, in his starched whites and striped apron. Not a blot or bloody cuff in sight. His father taught him the importance of that. No-one trusts a grubby butcher; they want immaculate. The flies don't get to cruise in here, or knit their legs on his meat. He's installed double doors, hung a bead curtain between. His customers enter in a sprinkle of rattles. The way he cleaves a lamb. Bones a joint. Like he was born to it; they all say it. But if he'd had his way, or another father, things would be different. Each night, he turns the sign to Closed, fills the sink. Lets himself imagine the cakes he would bake. Wedding cakes up to the ceiling. As light as breath. As delicate.


fiction by
Cheryl Pearson

image by
Chris Espenshade