moon was supposed to look like that, Christie thought: huge and round,
bright as an owl’s eye. She adjusted her basket and turned back. Somehow
between the woodear and wild onions she had dawdled the sun away. She
was still half an hour from the cabin. The baby would want to nurse
and Brad would have to console her as he prepared the trout from this
morning. Christie pictured him cleaning the small fish, rubbing each
one with fresh sage. Everything he does, she mused, is so considered,
so ordered. She kicked a stone beside the trail, scuffing the pine needles.
The distant howl surprised her. Gray wolf
on the ridge. Wondering if it would howl again, Christie looked back
toward the ridge and decided to wait. She sat, wrapping her arms around
her knees, and thought about being prey, scaring herself a little for
the fun of it. She was a hunter and gatherer - a good one: witness her
full basket, this morning’s trout that Brad would be arranging neatly
on the barbeque. It’s an equation, though. Things balance.
When she stood up a few minutes later
the basket handle accidentally brushed her breast, causing the milk
to well up. Then the wolf howled again and milk spurted through her
cotton blouse, warm, white, fragrant. Frightened, she ran, trailing
Milk and blood; baby and wolf. The words
pounded with every step. She thought she could smell the trout cooking.
She threw the basket down and ran faster, pressing her hands against
her breasts in an effort to contain the milk.
"Empty handed," Brad said when he saw
her. The baby was crying. But Christie only thought about her race across
the moonlit meadow, full of blood and flesh and scent, white milk streaming
down her hands.