Stephanie Yu

Gossip about our lordship’s feasts travels through our village of Flop. How a year’s supply of beef is baked into the pies. How every sumptuous meal ends in a sumptuous orgy and a trip to the vomitorium. My mates insist the digested food of ladies and vassals is more edible than our nosh. To which I rib, “Then I’ll be first in line with a fuckin’ spoon!”
          Rudolpho is to be quartered on Sunday. It has been a long while since we had some sort of sport. And what sport it is. All of Flop in the town square as the wood and the body strain like a chair being pried apart at the joints. The pop of the leg coming off. The screams of Ruldolpho
echoing overhead. My mates laughing as they pretend to whip the horses, lashing the air around them into a frenzy.
          I catch a glimpse of our lordship at the perimeter on his way to his winter estates. A carriage gilded pink and gold against the gray and excrement of Flop. His dainty hand draws back the curtain. His nose wrinkles. His lip curls.
          “Here he is thinkin’ he’s better than us maggots in old Flop,” I tell the butcher. “But he shits in a bin just like the rest of us!” The butcher gives me a whiskery smirk as he hacks a grotty shank to the bone. When I am in bed with my wife, I think about his ropy hands gripping meat. I start to loosen my johns to grip at my own meat, to handle it as the butcher would, thinking long on his hands, his sweat, his smirk.
          I know such thoughts would send me to the stocks, flay my skin to bits, loose the cheers of my mates into my ears as I expired on the pillory. Such thoughts only end one way in Flop. Even when it is well known that our lordship fucks his sister.
          No sister fucking for this old maggot. My wife and I wedded almost twenty years. She has one eye missing from a childhood fever, though many tell me she cuts a comely figure, the eye notwithstanding. When a wan light catches her weathered face, I say to myself, I love her. And when she brings me porridge after a day of tilling fields, I pretend it tastes of bile and rich beef.

Stephanie Yu lives and writes in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in Longleaf Review, Phoebe Journal, and Southwest Review, among others, and has been previously selected for the Wigleaf Top 50. Find her @stfu_stephanie.

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