The Bones of the Matter

A short story

Published by Metaphysical Circus

Witchcraft comes easy to mothers. It’s a profession you learn from childbirth, an alchemy of instinct and long hours spent deciphering a colicky infant’s wails. It’s a magic of thunderous affection and the calm, cold-water certainty that you will murder for your young.
Even so, not many are quite as powerful as Mei Fong’s mother. At sixty-two, her eldritch gifts are in ascendance, no longer pillowed by the meekness of her forties, nor dogged by the existential anxieties of her fifties. Mei Fong understands this, the way she understands the machinery of her fingers, the clumsiness of desire. It’s why she’s here this evening, storm-chilled and aching from a bruised heart.

“Ma? I’m home!”

Silence, warmly redolent of baked sweetness, answers. Mei Fong sheds shoes and socks, locking the door behind her. The floor creaks beneath her bare feet. On the outside, her mother’s house is indistinguishable from its sibling-structures, a two-story edifice guarded by a sumptuous herb garden. Inside, however, space arches like a cat beneath its owner’s attentions, lengthening into impossibility.

“Ma?” Mei Fong calls out again, louder this time. Since her mother turned forty, communication between living room and kitchen has mandated shouting, the interstitial corridor now too wide for whispers to travel.

She spins to see a man descending the stairs, slouch-shouldered and lean, like a hunting dog turned prince. Mei Fong smiles warily. The interloper is almost young enough to have been a childhood playmate of hers.

“Um. Hi,” he says again, made shy by scrutiny. A smile flits about his mouth like a frightened bird. “Your mother’s, um. She’ll be right down.”

Mei Fong nods solemnly. She can taste the sex, salty and pungent, clinging to his skin. Her eyes travel his face. No sorceries scald the geometry of his bones, the clarity of his regard. The only magic that Mei Fong’s mother had used to entice his desire was the one baked in the coquetry of a woman’s hips.

“Okay,” she declares, envy constricting her throat. If only it was as easy for her as it was for her mother! If only she, too, could lure her heart’s desire with just a smile.

Read the full story at Metaphysical Circus.