Mud Soup

One night we see, down by the river, we see Girl, she is down on her hands and knees, down in the river made mud, and she is doing with mud what us brothers, we do not know what she is doing. I am making a pot, is what she tells us, when we ask her what is she doing. When we ask her why after her telling us what, she looks at us brothers like this, like with this hungry kind of look looking out from her eyes, and then Girl tells us she's making a pot for her to make soup in. Soup, we say it to ourselves. What kind? is what is next on our list of what we want to know. Climb in and take a look, is what Girl says to this. Us brothers, we do what Girl says. We climb up this pot's muddy sides and we dive inside. Inside the pot there is river water filled up already just about to its top. This water is good and muddy, just the way we like it. There are some rusted jags of slag metal jutting up from the bottom of the pot, while up on top, afloat on the water's muddy skin, are the chopped off heads and moon shined eyes of dead fish glazing up. When we point all this out to Girl what Girl says to us is that this, the rusted metal, the fish heads, fish eyes, is for the soup's flavor. Without this, Girl says to this, this soup would be nothing but muddy water. I almost forgot, she then admits, I need wood for the fire. She turns and we watch her walk up away from the river, heading towards the woods that come between the river and the mill. When Girl comes back, she is holding in her arms an armful of ten foot tall trees, the dirt and the roots still dangling from that part of the tree that was closest to earth. Us brothers, we poke our heads up over the rim of this pot to see Girl slide the trees up underneath this pot and we see her set them on fire. It doesn't take long for the water to heat up. Bath time, boys, she says, when the bubbles start boiling up. Girl sticks a muddy finger into the water and tells us that it's just about there. What, where, is there? is what the both of us brothers are mouthing to each other, but say this out loud so that Girl might hear it, this, we do not dare. When the skin begins to pull away from the bone, it only hurts just a little. It only hurts just a little the way some of the times it hurt a little too when our mother used to hold our muddy hands under hot running water to get the mud off. When the skin slides off of the bone, and the muscles beneath the skin are tender and red, this is when Girl knows we are ready. She spoons us up, one brother per hand, and begins to eat.

About the author:

Peter Markus often writes about mud. Others in this very long series of stories (there are over two-hundred in all) have appeared in Black Warrior Review, Quarterly West, New Orleans Review, Northwest Review, Massachusetts Review, Seattle Review, etc, and a sequence of fourteen are presently archived at 5_Trope (part of issue ten).