My sister used to make me watch her slaughter rabbits, until I could observe without crying. I was eleven; she was thirteen. She’d carry one up the bluff behind our house each afternoon, hind legs noosed in her grip, then kneel in the scrub grass and order that I watch her wishbone their necks. The sound of it—that mucusy snap—found me when doors slammed, when resin popped inside the pines. My eyes glassed so I watched the slaughter through a kaleidoscope, and she’d tell me that if this was enough to break me, I had no chance in this world.
The next day, another rabbit. Another. Another. This was how she’d make me strong. She was skinning me of my softness. Peeling girlhood from girl.
What I feared most was the day she’d hold a knife out to me in one hand and a rabbit in the other and demand I slot blade into animal. I could not do jigsaw puzzles because it conjured this inevitability. I could not peel carrots. But she never did, perhaps so I would always need her.