Fiction · 08/21/2019

This Woman Is a Leopard

The spots are so smooth that Franklin wouldn’t notice them if he closed his eyes and ran his thumb across her like he was testing a piece of furniture. They are the size of typewriter buttons, making her look like a leopard as she lies across the bed in the unforgiving light of the motel lamp. It is odd knowing this about her — this secret she keeps buttoned away at the office. Even so, the message of her spots eludes him, and she seems to be dissolving into the pattern of the bedspread, as if she were hiding in the grasslands outside Nairobi. Franklin drains the last of his wine. He feels the teeth inside her kisses, traveling down his neck.

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Charles Rafferty’s most recent collections of poems are The Smoke of Horses (BOA Editions, 2017) and Something an Atheist Might Bring Up at a Cocktail Party (Mayapple Press, 2018). His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, O, Oprah Magazine, Prairie Schooner, and Ploughshares. His stories have appeared in The Southern Review and New World Writing, and his story collection is Saturday Night at Magellan’s (Fomite Press, 2013). He has won grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, as well as the 2016 NANO Fiction Prize. Currently, he directs the MFA program at Albertus Magnus College and teaches at the Westport Writers’ Workshop.