Psychopomp Magazine Fall 2014 - Page 20

20 | Psychopomp Magazine

Letitia Trent

The Bear

The Mother and her two sons lived far away from the town, down a long dirt road, down a long dirt driveway, in a valley between two mountains.

In summers, when they were both small, the boys would run around in the front yard, shoeless and shirtless, their bodies streaked with dirt by the end of the day, hair and hands sticky. The Mother would watch them play through the window and then, when it was time to sleep, give them their baths together and seal them up tight between two clean sheets in the same bed.

In the wintertime, they would bundle up in snowsuits and run the paths she’d shovel. They piled balls of snow together, hefted them on top of each other, and called them snowmen. When the snow blew stinging and heavy, they stayed in the house and drank tea and watched the snow gather until it almost reached the top edge of the windowsill.

The two boys had loved their mother and she loved them, though she knew that she would lose them.

It was happening already. Both could speak now and both could talk back.

All mothers lose their boys eventually.

One winter day, the Mother heard a strange sound along the side of the house, a sound like an enormous serrated blade running back and forth across the outside wall. She opened the front door and stepped out, holding her arms together against the cold.

A brown bear rubbed its hide along the siding. The bear’s hide was spotty and matted, with clumps of hair scraped away. When it saw her, it rose to its hind legs and yawned. The Mother’s mouth made a large O. She stepped inside and shut the door as it fell to its feet and moved toward her.

She locked the door and turned her back to it, waiting for the pounding, the animal’s nails worrying the cheap aluminum front door. Nothing. She breathed in and out and closed her eyes and counted to ten.