We heard the creaking clutch of the crank as they drew it up by cable and wheel and hung it sleek as a hull from the roof. Grennan jammed open the great jaws and we saw how the upper jaw hung from the skull. We flinched at the stench of blood that dripped on the fishhouse floor, and even Davey—when Grennan reached in past the scowl and the steel prop for the stump—just about passed out. The limb's skin had already blanched, a sight none of us could stomach, and we retched though Grennan, cool, began cutting off the flesh in knots, slashing off the flesh in strips; and then Davey, flensing and flanching, opened up the stomach and the steaming bowels. Gulls circled like ghouls. Still they taunt us with their cries and our hearts still burn inside us when we remember, how Grennan with a tool took out what was left of the child.
First published in Heat, an Australian international literary magazine. Copyright © 2004 by Judith Beveridge. Used by permission of the author.