Emma Moser


Our stepfather, intoxicated, called us downstairs, the boom of his voice exaggerated with something like excitement. It was not an emotion we heard from him often, and as his bellowed HEY-KIDS-CUMEERE shook our little house and our little bodies, that oddity spread infectiously. We were surprised to find ourselves scrambling through doorways and over each other, sometimes four-legged. Our entangled limbs rattled with unexpected laughter — a joint struggle to seek out quickly the source of this commotion, this something like adventure. Our stepfather stood with hunched shoulders by the kitchen window, one fat finger to his lips and another pointing to our woods-infested yard. LOOK-ITSA-BEAR and we did look, and it was a bear, sooty black and potbellied, not unlike our stepfather. From the counter he snatched a box of MilkBones, and after cautioning us to WATEVR-YADO-STAY-INSIDE he slammed the screen door behind him, staggering in the direction of the brute. At the window we shrieked with half-fear, half-mirth at the sight of him, teetering drunkenly toward the furry mass, extending a treat-filled hand with theatrical slowness, as if it was a peace offering, as if fancying himself a flannel-clad St. Francis. The bear stepped forward and sniffed his fingers, and we wondered for a moment what blood would look like. We wondered if this was truly an act of bravery from our stepfather. A pink tongue fell from the bear’s jaw, glinting with color and saliva in the sun. Before we’d seen it happening, the creature had gobbled the MilkBones and left the callused hand — which was still floating, palm-up, in open charity. Our little bodies sighed with an unknown delirium. They did this for an hour, our stepfather and the bear, exchanging hand and tongue with treats in between, the sunlight fading and the two of them grunting with something like friendship. At last, box empty and arm tired, our stepfather stumbled indoors, and we were sad to see it end. Outside, the bear continued circling our little house, while the sun died in red and became night. GUESSHEES-STILLUNGRY, and we felt that hunger too, hungry for more of this short-lived insanity, this something like joy.

Emma Moser’s multi-genre work has appeared or is forthcoming at Zoomoozophone Review, Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle, Thoreau’s Rooster, Fuck Fiction, and Sweatpants and Coffee. Her blog “Antiquarian Desiderium” was recently featured in Writers Get Together. A native resident of Western Massachusetts, she is currently completing her Bachelor’s in English at Westfield State University.

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