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by S.A. Leavesley

White is not innocence. It is christening gowns wet with sweaty handprints as the crying baby is passed around like a fairground curiosity. It’s wedding dresses ripped by teetering backwards or stained red by broken glass and spilt wine. It’s snow hiding heaven knows what beneath — flattened grass, litter, dog shit. Even the moon knows better than to hope for smooth pureness, bears its shadows and craters, wraps itself in cloud.

On Bones, the flesh-eating maggots are whiter than the corpses’ skulls. Forensic anthropologist Tempy copes well with being “different”. Unlike me, or my six-year-old niece, Phoebe. Every week, my sister Janice sports another blue bruise and deeper-shadowed eyes. I wonder how long it will be before my brother-in-law turns his anger at Phoebe’s condition directly onto her. I’ve been asking Jan to leave Tom for two years now. Two years she’s been refusing, excusing, trying to pretend it isn’t happening. Or bury the fear that if she leaves, he’ll find them and then …

My brother-in-law is a wolf, only no one else wants to see this. For the past six months, I’ve been playing like the Hunter’s Moon, fashioning myself in extravagant colours and tones so I seem even more wildly different than usual. When people are busy noticing my lips, hair, clothes, they don’t stop to pay attention to my heart or actions. Whatever others might think, inside I’m white as a soft dove, or the satin gloves that I put on after I pick up Jan and Phoebe and drop them at Grandma’s for the weekend.

Once I’ve sorted that, it’s an easy disappearing Snapchat to Tom and a twenty-minute drive to White Lake, where the only light at night is the moon rippling over. The deepest part is always the quietest. No one will ever find him.

S.A. Leavesley is a fiction writer, poet, journalist and photographer, with flash published by journals including Spelk, Jellyfish Review, Litro, Ellipsis and Fictive Dream. Her short novellas Always Another Twist and Kaleidoscope are published by Mantle Lane Press.