I don’t mind the pebbles underneath my body. They’re small and don’t hurt my skin at all. I mind the smells around me though.

There are two people on the ground, close by. The metallic smell of blood and urine involuntarily released from one of them fills my nasal passages. I’m kind of used to it. I sniff once more and detect the first aroma of death. I’m sure it’s the man next to me. Not the other one. He’s still moaning and trying to get up. Only one of my ears lets his angry cries in. Maybe the other ear is too full of blood. I’m confused about what happened.

My front foot is bent at an angle opposite of what it usually is. It was hurting a lot more a while ago. Not so much now. That’s probably a good thing. I bet I won’t be able to run very well with it like this. I hope Joe can get me fixed right up. That’s what he keeps saying. He’s stroking my head (I love that) and saying, “It’s going to be okay, Maggie. You’ll see. We’re going to fix you right up.” Over and over.

Joe. You’re crying. Stop it.

I raise up to lick the blood off my foot and leg. That’s all I ever needed to do before. I’m magic. Well, my licks are. They make my cuts get better and put smiles on peoples faces, especially the little faces. I love my licks. They make me powerful. This time seems to be different though. I smell my own tissue dying. That can’t be good. But, I’m special. I’ve always been told that, so maybe when they fix me right up, it really will all be okay. The thought makes me lick again and again, at my foot, and the place on my side, then my foot again. I can’t stop the high pitched wail escaping from me. I’m sorry, Joe. I don’t want to be weak. I’m supposed to be strong, and bright, and obedient, and brave.

Other men like Joe take the time to stop as they walk by. (They are doing their jobs and wrapping things up. I’m usually in the back of Joe’s car when this is going on.) They nod at Joe and then at me. Very stern. But I see some of their chins wobble as they bend down and touch my flank. My skin shivers each time I’m touched there. Sorry. It’s involuntary.

I hack. Out comes blood. I don’t know who is whimpering about that, me or Joe. Guess we both are. Sorry Joe. I lick his hand. I put blood there. I try to lick it off. He pushes my head down and says, “Don’t worry about it. I have a rag in the car. You just rest. Okay girl? You gotta rest. And we’ll fix you right up.” He barely got that last part out because he started to blubber hard. Now I’m really worried and I start to wail again.

He lays his cheek on my rib cage and strokes me, and whispers, but I can’t hear him over my own stupid breathing. Then I cough a little more. More stuff comes out. And Joe cries harder.

Like the man next to me, who’s eyes grew still and faded, I feel my own dim. As his breaths became shallow, so do mine. I guess this means, like him, my life is being extinguished. So my truth will be liberated. I never would have said. But…

I Hated My Training. I never wanted to rush into danger, where bullets flew, and attack people.

I turned into a version of myself I barely knew. It was the ancient me. When I might have viewed my world of forest floors, littered and softened with pine straw. Sounds, sharp and strange, were of birds and animals that I never hear or see when I am with Joe. This world would have been experienced with a virgin’s heart and eyes half shut against what I was about to do. Never has my mind collapsed around and my tongue salivated for the coming kill.

I know some that didn’t need the training. As they were sent out by people like my Joe, they couldn’t wait to dig their teeth into flesh and rip and taste and growl.

My Joe never knew my truth. I try to send him this message with my eyes again, because he is holding my head in his hands. His face is so close now. I smell his tears and his anxiety and his fear. For me. My eyes must be too dull for him to see my love, my sorrow, my forgiveness. But, I only wanted to be kind and use my magic.

What? Please, no. I smell my own urine. So bad of me, I’m sorry.