Auntie Linda spent a lot of time studying their bones. A man without his clothes has few secrets, but a man without his skin has none.
Auntie Linda’s neighbours were all men desiring solitude. They traveled from far and wide to settle n the woods around Auntie Linda’s farm, carrying little more than the rags on their backs. None of the men brought razors. They wanted their whispers to hide their faces, to unspool from their cheeks like heavy ropes. During the first month of a man’s arrival, Auntie Linda often heard him berating his whiskers, commanding the rotten salt-and-pepper specks to GROW FASTER GODDAMMIT!
Whenever a new man arrived at her acreage, Auntie Linda prepared a small basket of supplies. In a wicker nest, she arranged envelopes of flour and salt. She gave the men needles and a spool of black thread–good for sewing either ripped fabric or flesh. She saved the seeds from her squashes and peppers but the men never planted gardens. They were meat eaters and gobbled up squirrels and sparrows by the dozen. A few men kept chickens but only as bait to lure delicious foxes.
She tiptoed to the men’s crude shelters–deftly side-stepping their bobby traps–and deposited her care packages without being seen. She wanted the men to know the acreage was safe and would provide them with the solitude they desired. After dropping off these supplies, she never again contacted the men and stopped anyone else who tried.
-excerpt from “Auntie Linda’s Farm”
Originally published in Issue 138 of The New Quarterly Spring 2016, alongside fiction by Marilyn Bowering, Megan Findlay, Cynthia Flood, Richard Kelly Kemick, Susi Lovell, Jasmina Odor, Patricia Robertson, and Ron Schafrick.