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Caster, Sam Moe

previously published in Delicate Friend

May knows she has feelings for Jackie when they’re dancing. Eve

of the final week of the semester, there are paper and wax butterflies

taped across the walls. Jackie and May raise curved hands, step

close then away. May wants to ask her how she’s been feeling

since her first residency is ending, will she be in the halls for the

break, or will May be left alone? Instead she doesn’t say anything,

it’s the creature she sees first, electric green raptor bones hang

together in a bright chorus, stalking animals across lawn, eve

scratches at the windows and the moon tosses stars around, the

ballroom is lit from the inside-out. May wants to tug Jackie, fly

out the door in time to meet the caster, but Jackie’s hands ring

May’s neck, make her feel she might be able to forget the bones, step

away from the campus and become a person, not a shade. Stepping

away from Jackie now, it breaks May’s body in two, there’s nothing

she wants more than to drag Jackie along but she can’t, a sting

starts at the back of her hand then leaves at her fingers, Just leave

the room now, she thinks to herself. May is running, blue-silver flies

of streamers cascade over her face, she hits octagon balloons, the

night has turned in on itself and she’s left her heels across the

lawn, straps torn, beads plucked off. The raptor is stepping

away, beautiful but cruel up close, why did the butterflies

show up every time a fossil was near? They blinked red to nothing,

the raptor has eaten and is hunting again. May follows, evening

a cape around her already-frozen shoulders, her lips feeling

a tug-of-war between yelling out and keeping hidden, it’s in

her best interest to remain quiet and safe. Soon she’s the

only one in the forest alive, bloodflies everywhere, the eve

eating the hours, blotting out stars with a kerchief, kept

telling herself she wasn’t scared, wasn’t wrong, now looking

back she feels no less unjustified. Their sneers, the flies

she found in her desk, name written on dorm-room walls, flies

with exes for eyes, she felt like removing her jaw, the evening

had brought no solace and now she was unsafe. It’s nothing

then the green teeth in her face, eyes like lantern, castle of the

creature a name that gets caught in her throat, a no, you can step

away, this isn’t the last time. Jackie responds, I know, I cast it.


Sam Moe is a queer writer of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. She is pursuing a PhD in creative writing at Illinois State University. Her work has appeared in Overheard Lit Mag and Cypress Press. She received an Author Fellowship from Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing residency in June, 2021.

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