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  • Writer's pictureBulb Culture Collective

Pack Animals by Anita Goveas

In watery September daylight, the house is a dishevelled hyena, with an ivy fringe and a

gaping mouth. Animals that hunt in packs always give her shivers, from nature

documentaries watched in childhood behind pillows to flat reproductions in Biology

textbooks. Something about ganging up on a creature, the planning that involves.

She hasn’t been alone in the wood for six weeks, since that schoolgirl disappeared, her

mother fussily ignoring that she was going to college in two weeks and could look after

herself. But this is for grandmother’s earring, which exactly matches her silver halter-top and

she shouldn’t have been wearing last night. She straightens her newly-adult spine, peeks

through the entrance.

What seemed romantic at midnight is unpleasant now. Gleams of light slither over cobwebs,

dirt, broken beams. He’d whispered she was perfect by that dust-clogged hole in the wall.

The spot where he kissed her is a crack that looks forged by a savage fist. Why would he

bring her to a place like this? He’d said it was his secret place, a special place. A place made

for a girl like her.

On the wall across are two deeply-scored figures, with identical fringes of hair and gaping

mouths. His name is underneath, next to a man’s she doesn’t recognise. A glint reveals her

earring, placed on a folded square of blue paisley. Like the scarf the schoolgirl is wearing in

the posters all over town. One of the figures holds a knife.

He’d kept looking at his watch all night, looking at the doorway. Not keeping her curfew,

not worried about being discovered. Waiting for someone.

The earring scars into her hand as she runs, ignoring leaves falling in her hair until she’s

safe in her kitchen. In her wise mother’s arms.

Originally Published by Loss Lit, 2018

Anita Goveas is British-Asian, London-based, and fuelled by strong coffee and paneer jalfrezi. She was first published in the 2016 London Short Story Prize anthology, most recently by Fractured lit. She’s on the editorial team at Flashback Fiction, an editor at Mythic Picnic’s Twitter zine, and tweets erratically @coffeeandpaneer Her debut flash collection, ‘Families and other natural disasters’, is available from Reflex Press, and links to her stories are at https://coffeeandpaneer.wordpress.com


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