Black Petals Issue #94 Winter, 2021

Gnaw
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BP Artists and Illustrators
BP Guidelines
Mars-News, Views and Commentary-Chris Friend
Basement Dweller-Fiction by Justin Swartz
The Beating of Their Wings-Fiction by Brian Maycock
Does the Bogeyman Live Downstairs?-Fiction by Clive Owen Barry
Dark Little Boxes-Fiction by C. M. Barnes
Death by Midnight-Fiction by Charlie Cancel
Forearmed-Fiction by Jan Cronos
Inconceivable-Fiction by Rich Rose
The Wolf's Den-Fiction by J. B. Polk
Treachery-Fiction by Ramon F. Irizarri
Tumour Wakes Up-Fiction by Alexis Gkantiragas
The Opal Ring-Fiction by Michael Dority
Flora and Fauna-Flash Fiction by Roy Dorman
Gnaw-Flash Fiction by Tony Kidd
Mad Money-Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Madonna of the Damned-Flash Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Special Teeth-Flash Fiction by KJ Hannah Greenberg
The Death Set-4 Poems by Hillary Lyon
Five Haiku-Poems by C. D. Marcum
Misanthrope-Poem by Donna Dallas
The Wish Tree-3 poems by Christopher Hivner
Nebulous-3 poems by Juan Manuel Perez
The Sphinx at Night-5 Poems by Meg Smith
Nameless-Poem by David Barber

94_bp_gnawmknowles.jpg
Art by Mike Knowles 2021

Gnaw

 

Tony Kidd

 

 

The first time I saw my skin bleed, I couldn't have been more than one year old, yet I remember it as if it happened only an hour ago. A papercut from my crayon-glazed paper appeared at the tip of my finger. Such a tiny incident, and yet it was the most painful thing I had experienced thus far. I cried and cried as it continued to hurt, so I put my little finger in my mouth and caressed it with my tongue. The taste was new to me—salty, tingly, and interesting. I might have thought it was iron-like had I known such a thing as iron existed. I went about my day as normal. I watched mind-numbing cartoons on television. I defecated in my diaper, and my mother changed me. I played with my action figures as they fought over control of the corner of the sofa. I even took a bath and had adventures with my toy shark. I did all these things while nursing on the tip of my finger. In fact, I did so for such a long time that my jaw and gums began to ache, and I was forced to take a break from my suckling. My finger was pale white like the paper that sliced me. The skin shriveled halfway to my knuckle and felt numb. I knew, even at such a young age, that the smart thing to do would be to stop, but I could not. Those pale wrinkles intrigued me, and I felt the compulsion to suckle, to glide my tongue across each wrinkle, thoroughly examining each one as if exploring miniature valleys and canyons with my tongue. Eventually, the cut healed, and I felt a longing inside of me. I missed the taste of that sweet, tingling, red nectar, so organic and clean. I began suckling on my arm, leaving large and dark bruises, but the nectar eluded me. I discovered what kept me out and kept it in—my skin. I needed to remove it. I needed to taste, to swallow that pure life force my skin barricaded inside of me. My suffering continued for a few more months until, as if by some divine miracle from God, a tiny white calcification pushed its way through my gums. I caressed and enjoyed it curiously with my tongue for some time. Teething is what my mother called it. Before long, more of these white miracles sprouted, and I soon had many. I now had allies in my war for the sweet, crimson honey, thick and yet so thin. My skin stood no chance as it tried to hold itself together. I occupied my body that day, and I took my time. I found that I enjoyed the skin as well, and the way a sliver of it felt between my teeth—truly sensational.  I rolled it around, passing it underneath different pairs of my teeth like sports players passing a game ball. Then, when I felt the need to slice off another serving, I simply bit into the used sliver of skin and swallowed it down. Sometimes, I even tried pairing it with the nectar, creating a juicy, saucy, tiny steak, just for me. I was my own exclusive restaurant. I was the chef. I was the server. I was the host. I was the diner. I continued this filthy habit, as my mother called it, for several years into my adulthood. I lost several fingernails and then my fingers. One by one, they fell to infections. I was told that I had to stop, that my skin had become a petri dish of filth and bacteria, but I persisted, oh, how I persisted. I chewed and suckled on the stub of my hands down to the sinew and muscle and, eventually, even to the bone. Each was a new flavor to me, a new variety to enjoy. I fed for years to come, and, even to this day, I still chew at the stubs of my arms. I see now the error that I made, and I am ashamed to admit that my skin was the victor all along. I see clearly the obsession and filth of my habit. I see how it controls me. I belong to it, and eventually, there will be no more to feed upon. Nevertheless, I simply cannot stop.


Tony Kidd is a Tennessee native who has been writing since the age of seven and has written in several different genres. Whether enjoying a hike or painting a canvas, his imagination is constantly finding inspiration for his next work.

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