Shank. Chuck. Plate. Flank. Short loin.
The Professor begins to sleep soundly through the night. The Professor loses weight, gains muscle––slower than you might imagine, but he does. The Professor regains the stark white enamel of his teeth. The Professor has abundant energy. He begins to walk everywhere.
Flat Iron. Tenderloin. Sirloin. Sirloin. Sirloin.
Some changes are immediate, others take longer. The Professor’s posture shifts to the confident stance of an animal at the top of the food chain, one without the knowledge it will someday die. The Professor begins to stalk instead of walk. The Professor can hear everything, suddenly. Water rushing in the underground, bird song from a mile away, his own hair growing faster than usual.
For years, the Professor has been letting meat rest after taking it off the heat to prevent the torrent of rushing blood. Now, the blood is all he thinks about. The blood is the best part.
The Professor begins to long for and fear the full moon, the harvest moon, the whole moon.
The Professor asks his wife to leave out clothes for him on the back stoop of their farmhouse. Just in case. Just in case something happens.
The Professor learns to smell fear. The Professor learns to smell sex, even the kind that hasn’t happened yet. The Professor learns to smell death––the ultimate omnivore. The Professor is tortured by knowledge and soothed by the animal certainty of the full moon which brings the silence, like a smoking field before dusk.
The Professor regrets everything. The Professor regrets nothing. The Professor knows pain is the point of existence. The Professor hates and admires himself with animal ferocity. The Professor rips out of his skin, shatters his spine as the dark thing living inside him lurches upward, arching like a rainbow towards his wife’s farmhouse ceiling.
The Professor cleans up the mess.
Are you alright? the Professor’s wife asks, after coming home to a clean kitchen. You’re acting different.
No I’m not, the Professor wants to say. He wonders why she can’t see that. Why no one could see what he was, this insatiable hungry beast. All the wasted years.
It’s just work, the Professor says. I love you.
The Professor kills animals in the woods and finds cloth in his teeth in the morning. The Professor digs holes for the shoes and the skulls. The Professor gives the earrings to his wife. The Professor has never been worse, the Professor has never been better.
All this time, life was a long sleepwalk, and now life is a torrent of hot blood, a midnight race through the woods, a howling victory cry at the night sky and the whole moon above him.
The Professor sets the table with wax candles (the Professor is still civilized, after all). The Professor pours himself a full-bodied red. The Professor digs in.