The reptile brain has been debunked, but for a long time, I didn’t know that. I thought that when I drank, I peeled back the layers: skin to fur, fur to scales, and by 3 AM my primordial urges would override any remaining humanity. I’d grasp in the dark at my ugliest desires, in a moldy kitchen, oysters left on the counter until morning, eggs splattered and dried between the blinds. I want you, like the flesh on a stick dangling off a pontoon of ogling tourists, the fifth time a woman with claws like mine has shrieked at my existence. I’m only looking for a meal.
When I met you, you were in a lunchbox, neatly packed and wrapped around yourself. Missing your head but otherwise intact, as if you were lightly steamed, or maybe raw, but it didn’t occur to Dream Me, on a field trip to the Oakland Zoo, that there was anything amiss. I woke up just before slicing into your thigh. I woke up salivating.
When I finally ate you, you tasted familiar. Like coming home or chicken. A red, too-sweet dipping sauce masked the foreign and unnameable. I could hear your struggle in the silence on our side of the table. A baby in a barrel, looking like a snack; it felt worse than I remembered, doubt dragging me back into the swamp. I’ve always loved a mixed metaphor, but I couldn’t find the right one until I stared into eyes like ancient marbles, wondering whose nature was the more evil, exonerating myself through pseudo-psychology and the romantic smell of mud. But some things are redacted before I say them, and some things I will leave on the boat.
is a writer and theatre artist from Oakland, California. She has directed and performed in schools, regional theatres, and touring arenas. Leah will be an artist-in-residence at Papermoon Puppet Theatre in Indonesia, and will spend fall 2023 producing an interactive musical storytelling experience for youth in Singapore and Japan. You can find more of her work on her travel blog, Adventure Confessions or at leahsanginiti.com