When she gets home he’ll have already done it.
It’ll all be set up.
A feast for the week, a fucking tableau.
He’ll have something going on the stove too, for tonight.
He was quite proud of what he’d accomplished so far today. And the day’s not over.
He talks to himself while pushing the cart about what it’s like to be a proud hunter, or better, more like a predator—what a predator would do with its prey and lay it out like an offering to a mate. To be the type of provider he is. Just look-it.
He brings it home from the store, arranges it out all on the counter and kitchen table. All nice and very careful.
Look-it this, he thinks, a well-stocked pile of spoils. He sets up the display of what he managed to get. What he managed to bring back to the den.
A hunt’s bounty.
All the gatherings, and trappings, caught in the chrome basket of the cart.
He’d even go as far as to think of himself and refers to himself as an Apex Pred. The way he moved around in the store. The way he procured a profusion of sustenance.
To think the most natural way. Impulse and instinct, the most biologically-evolved for efficiency. But he doesn’t know what that could mean to him—beyond some primordial tickling in his ears and hope for salvation from starvation for just one more day, and maybe even getting a nice tugging reward.
He’ll get another list tomorrow morning when she leaves for work and the amount to cover it.
It’s what he can do for her, however well, and however simple it looks. He doesn’t think of it as less. He thinks: It’s dangerous out there.
He hopes he can make the display tonight look appetizing, or at least okay, even seductive. He didn’t want to push it too much. Subtly is sexy. That’s why he went to the grocery store by himself in the mornings. He could spend the rest of the day laying it out, adjusting everything to make it look right because as he rearranges it all he’d eat from the pile, a snack here and there—just a couple of bites—pieces of fruit and lunch—some bread and some cheese. He has to try to make sure it doesn’t look like he’s eaten anything from it. Like he was patient and waited for her to get home from work and didn’t cheat and he had control. Like as long as he wraps everything back up as it was, lock-baggy lock tracks lined up right with the deli sticker, bread bag twisted back up and tied up the way a machine would do it.
As long as the work he put into it is acknowledged.
Nathan Dragon has been published in Noon Annual, Fence and New York Tyrant. Dragon is from Salem, MA., and is working on a book of fictions.