The Chort Wife

(Photo: A red velvet anatomical heart pincushion with antique scissors and a spool of pink silk thread.)

A followup (a prequel?) to Chort’s Suds.

*

The Chort Wife

The car careens around Gooseberry and Third, spattering gravel on my skirt.
I spit my grandmother’s curses at the receding taillights–I’d spent days embroidering that hem.

“And what will you give me, for ‘taking the car and that hellish music too’?”
A man stands in the intersection, smirking. He’s fiendishly handsome, in hoof-heeled boots, tattered red leather duster, and hair slicked up into horns.

Babula had chastised me for summoning chorts–my first husband was a devil, and my second, too—they always stole a piece of my soul but never stayed.

I eye his clothing. “I can mend your coat.”

“Done.” He licks his palm and extends it. I kiss my fingertips and shake his hand, sealing the bargain. He doesn’t let go. “The ‘always flavorless pierogi’ might cost you more.”

I laugh, my heart spinning a polka in my chest.

He leans closer, his whisper on my neck rough and warm as smoking coal. “I’ll take that skirt.”

I take him home. He takes my clothes, and the rest of me, in the most sinful ways.
I darn his coattails while nude, needle flicking stitches under his hot gaze. He’s hypnotized by the flashing silver as the parzenica patterns close the ripped hide with chain-stitched hearts. When I prick my skin, he sucks my fingertip, and other places too.

The next day he’s gone, to make good on our deal, but I’ve sewn my name into his coat in blood, and this time the devil will return.

*

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