Tag Archives: Brazilian folklore

“The Headless Mule” – Fiction by H. Pueyo

From our Winter 2018 issue, “The Headless Mule” is H. Pueyo‘s blazingly surreal flash fiction based on Brazilian folklore.

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TOUCH, YES, BUT JUST A LITTLE—she said, her, the mule, the one who would stop having a head. Sitting on the church’s pew, she waited, blouse unbuttoned and skirt lifted, looking at the altar. Many things crossed her mind as he helped himself: his hands, hot like maize cake, freshly baked. The wooden cross, gilded, the thrushes outside, singing. Not a word to anybody, yes?—he said, and she nodded, blushing. How glorious it was, to be loved, again, and touched, by someone, anyone, even if it was him, even by a priest.

The widow covered herself, and kissed the tip of his nose. Will we see each other again?—she asked. Tomorrow, or the other day, or on next Sunday’s Mass?

Sure thing—he said, covering his crotch with his cassock. She leaned for another kiss, but didn’t receive any.

Outside, it was night, well, almost. It was that hour where the clouds fog the furious lightness of the day, and orange and pink turn slowly into blue, purple and black. I will miss you—she said, finger twirling around a loose curl. The priest disappeared in the shadows of the closed church.

She hid under the veil, as dark as her clothing, and hurried to leave as well.

Some children still played in the park, and their nursery rhymes could be heard between the birds: last one there is the priest’s wife, the priest’s wife, the priest’s wife… She hugged herself, feeling strange. Her forehead felt numb, her hands and feet throbbed, her nape hurt. The wind erased the day’s hotness, and a chill went down her spine.

There was still a long way to go to reach her home, but she could only think of him—the priest’s wife, the priest’s wife, the priest’s wife—his hands, his smell, his ways. If they had been lucky, they would have been born far away, and this secret wouldn’t have existed in the first place.

The widow looked up, walking beneath the trees, following the path of the dirt road. Slowly, she realized something was happening to her: her weak knees hit the floor, her elbows contorted, turning, breaking. Her skirt furled around her legs, and she screamed, thinking again of the priest: if someone saw her, would he help her? Or would he turn his back on her, and pray, washing his own hands? Continue reading “The Headless Mule” – Fiction by H. Pueyo

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