My father is the Goatman. Tonight, I undid myself in the evening air, managed to leave my body in fear of him chasing me, footsteps heavy and slick. His hooves and horns shadows in starlight–horns erupting one night, overnight, at the divorce and arcing around the sides of his head, ending in rounded tips, grotesque. And I refused to acknowledge them for years, calling and calling him and letting him prattle on about my mother before I finally saw the truth and ran. Now he’s caught me, the stench of him weighing on the slight wind. I’m floating above myself as he approaches my body lying crooked in the bluegrass. He picks me up, my arms dangling, carved by starlight. I’m screaming into the cicada song bombing over the next ridge, trying to wake myself, to return to the fight. I see him lean his goat face gingerly to my chest to sniff. In my current form, I can still feel the breath of him, the buoyant breath of promise as he used to say to me, You’re my best friend. You know that, right? And I believed him. But no more. No more cloudy swindles and drunken reassurance. Now, I’m the spirit and he’s the monster. My body swaying in his arms–a parody of how I hold my son and carry him across the hall to bed. There we are: me, my mind, and this monster, the night pressing close, and all I can think of is survival and repentance. I know I won’t get both, so I dive back in, reel through the pain splitting the sides of my head as I struggle in his arms yet again.
Luke Wortley is a writer living in Indianapolis, Indiana. His fiction and poetry have appeared or are forthcoming in Inch, Hobart, Best Microfictions, Pithead Chapel, Cincinnati Review, and elsewhere. You can follow him on Twitter (@LukeWortley) or visit https://www.lukewortley.com/
A Song for Luke