There are many things that make him angry, but soapsuds are the worst. He hates them. Stupid, frothy, girly bubbles. He hates them in the bathroom and he hates them on the kitchen sponge.
I don’t mean that they annoy him. I mean they make him freaking angry. He got problems.
That’s why he needs to pummel the living daylight out of something. He needs to hear the crunch of bone breaking and the squelch of flesh tearing.
That’s why he became a butcher. A butcher’s shop is no place for bubbles.
He’s there at the crack of dawn, sharpening knives and silencing bleating. By midday, his customers arrive. Those pretty ladies with red lipstick and stilettos that carefully avoid the carcass juice on the floor. With powdered hankies that cover powdered faces that watch carefully as he makes the cut.
They are thinking already of the belly of the animal, marinated, spiced and roasted on their glass top dinner tables. They don’t realise it, but they don’t look at the meat for what it is. Animal and raw and dead. They are taming it even after death.
He is different. There is nothing delicate and vegetarian about him. He sees it all; horn and hoof, casserole cuts and charcuterie.
They don’t meet his eyes. They don’t look at his face. They don’t look at the blood on his apron.
Less fat, please.
He looks at them, though. He looks at them as if he’s saying it right back to them. He notices the gleaming curve of their calves, the softness of their arms.
He understands meat. When he slices through sinewy muscle, he can hear the sizzle as meat touches pan, feel the splash as oil singes skin.
He spends his nights smelling of musk and talc. His hair is damp from the shower, and combed into parallel lines on either side of his parting. His long, graceful fingers coax words out of the cold, black buttons on his keyboard. He draws life from the insentient, like a musician making a rusty old piano cry out the last of its melodies. He writes fast, and feverishly.
I lie in the next room and listen to the sound. When it stops, my heart freezes. My skins prickles and I wait, with a mouth full of bitter. Sometimes he starts typing again and I realise I have been holding my breath and let it out in relief.
Sometimes the pause is followed by his chair squeaking as he gets up. Then I wait, where he has told me to wait, for him to come to bed.
Sometimes the butcher comes, and sometimes it is the writer. I can tell before he has even entered the room. From the sound of his footfall, the pace of his breath. His hands move expertly over me, as if ascertaining whether the curve of my body has changed, even slightly. My thighs, my hips, my breasts. Undercut.
Sometimes he grabs my flesh in his fingers and I know he is feeling it because it is real, whole, warm. He has a bone to pick with me, ha ha.
The stench of his day must never mix with the scent of his night. You cannot tell, in the clean, pink half moons of his fingernails that just a few hours ago those fingers have been soaked in blood. In the delicate, musical motion of his typing, you cannot see the swift, violent slashes that separate bone and slice through flesh.
What you can see, both by day and night, is art.
In the cold, windy, stone shop where souls escape through the ceiling fan and leave behind skinned, pink corpses swaying from hooks on the roof. In the translucent, venous thighs on the chopping board. In his bed.
On Monday mornings, I shave my legs and slip on my heels. I leave the yoghurt out on the kitchen table, ready for the marinade. I step into the butcher’s. I’m making dinner tonight.
I’m making dinner and my boyfriend got beef.
Tamara Mathias begins every day with a blinking cursor. She's a student of Creative Writing at the University of St. Andrews, which is as close as she'll ever get to being referred to as a Saint. She is also a Chevening scholar and has previously worked with the What’s Up Bangalore magazine. Earlier this year she made the made the move from India to Scotland, and hasn’t recovered since, although certain marvellous British phenomenon such as the Victoria Sponge and men in kilts have made the acclimatisation process much easier. She is frequently found at the beach with hot chocolate and Douglas Adams. You can follow her on Twitter @TamMathias.