First, the bad man found me by a birch tree in a nowhere, peeling off moon-white flakes of bark
to touch its black under. Shouldn’t you be at school right now but like it wasn’t a question. I
looked at the bad man’s knuckles carved with one black letter each. H-E-L-L-B-E-N-T. I take it
back, if you can spell you don’t need school. The black seat of his motorcycle had baked under
the sun all morning. Kissed my legs with burn. The bad man wore black leather jackets and hated
his mother. He chewed tobacco, which he spat into duck ponds. You are a bad girl, the bad man
said, squeezing the stockings tighter. They cut into my throat skin.
Then, I wanted to please the bad man, so I became bad. I learned how to hunt and skin animals,
so I could wear their fur to match his leather. All you did was buy it, I would tease, smoothing the
boar pelts that I draped over our shoulders, arms, and heads, still dangling with fresh viscera. I
broke into pawn shops to bring the bad man gifts. He wore a hoop earring, so I found him ones
made of bone, the baddest jewelry material. When he woke up I would be crouched above his
face ready to shower him with palms full of stolen luxuries – bone earrings, gold teeth, blood
diamonds. I pictured a future where we both rode motorcycles into blinding sunsets, drinking
One morning, the bad man said he was done with me. I had become too bad. All I did anymore
was sew voodoo dolls of his mother, then sit in the living room and yank their heads off with my
teeth, spitting out splinters of hay and laughing. All I ate was foie gras, the baddest liver paste,
banned in a dozen countries for cruelty. I thought you hated ducks, I said. The bad man was
already holding his motorcycle keys. Said it was too late. Said he only said I was bad because he
liked it, sexually he meant. He didn’t like me being his kind of bad.
I said oh. I said I could be good instead. I curled up by the bad man’s legs and hugged them,
turning my face up to him, eyes gleaming. I can be kind to animals and love your mother for you.
No, he sighed, stepping out of my grip, his metal-tipped boot knocking my chin. That would ruin
Nadia Prupis is currently obtaining her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast program. Her writing has appeared in Ms. Magazine, the Portland Phoenix, Dispatch Magazine, and other outlets.