Margo on the Hunt

Megan Pillow


If we smash all the clocks, if we clip the throats of all the birds, if we douse every corner of the sun to stop its flaming—if, if we put a hand to every single mouth and still the beat of every heart, we might just hear the crawl of Margo’s car along a highway.

We have called, and we have messaged, but Margo is not answering. She is gone, but somehow, she still circulates in the air. Somehow her story still spreads, like the crack of an egg into a pan, like the split of an egg inside a womb into cell after berry-like cell.

In the indigo expanse of sky above our houses, we see Margo on the hunt for a bit of peace and quiet, we see Margo sliding like a tongue down the limb of another leaf-spattered road.

Here is Margo in the click and shush of Amy’s knitting needles. Here is Margo in the glint of Rachel’s mirror, in the gloss on Rachel’s lips.

Here is Margo in the mist that hovers like a ghost above Nicki’s pool, here is Margo, rapping her knuckles against the water as if it is a door. Margo traces her fingers along the soft of Nicki’s skin. Like that, Nicki opens at the thought of her. Like that, Margo says let me in.

In the basement, where a part of Margo always lives, some of us are gathering, some of us have never gone home. At night, Hugo closes his eyes and he is on the bus to Cedar Key again, and Margo’s arms are cradling him, and there is no greater comfort than this. In his bed, beneath the covers, Dave grips Margo’s rainbow-colored shirt, hot and slick in the palm of his hand. Andrew dreams, and Margo’s eyes are pleading, Margo’s mouth is at his ear again saying please take me home. Dean sleeps, and behind his lids scroll sentence after sentence of his love.

But now, somewhere beyond the stifling air around us, there is a gravel road, and at the end of it a grove of trees. Margo is in the thick of it. Margo has found herself a cabin. Margo is making herself a souffle.

In the dark belly of her phone, we are waiting. If only she would turn us on.

But if we still the roar of all the oceans, if we quiet the winds and the whistles, if we muffle all of the children from their constant screaming, maybe we can make her out. Maybe we can make her listen.

In the basement, deep in the heart of his dream-body, Andrew whispers: I’m sorry.

Hugo whispers: regret, regret.

In the cabin, maybe to them, Margo whispers: it’s too late.

In the basement, deep in the forest of his dream, Dave whispers: I still want a piece of you.

Dean whispers: answer me.

Maybe to the sound of their voices, maybe to the souffle, Margo whispers: not yet, not yet.

Now Margo is in the kitchen, stuck in the flush of the light and the heat again, Margo, with the smell of the rise in her nose tells herself she will not take any more shit from men. Margo has smashed all the clocks and cut the throats of all the birds and used every single one of her tears to douse the flaming. But now, with her cheek to the cracked tile floor, Margo fears the hunt is over. She is caught, and she is darted. Some of us will gut her. Some of us will mount her in our living rooms and in our beds.

To the Margo in the air around us, to the Margo in the dark of the pool, Nicki whispers: come closer.

Somewhere beneath the beat of Margo’s heart, there is a stirring, like water in a cauldron. Margo puts her hand there.

To the Margo who slips behind the eyes of her daughter, Rachel whispers: you’re magic.

Margo is conjuring: a sunlit kitchen. A pane of glass. A woman there who looks like her, who laughs and sucks the juice of a peach from a beautiful person’s hand. And beyond the room, beyond the halo of the lovers, there is the split of an egg into cell after berry-like cell.

To the Margo in the basement, in the blink of every star, Amy whispers: cast on, cast on.

The scope of the conjuring spreads and spreads.

Margo, in the thick of it, feels the swell and start beneath her palm. Margo is a pane of glass. Margo, in the kitchen, rises, like a ghost or like a zombie, but Margo, our Margo, is not dead.


Megan Pillow is a graduate of the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop in fiction and holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Kentucky. She is co-editor of The Audacity, a new newsletter by Roxane Gay, and founder of Submerged: An Archive of Caregivers Underwater. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in, among other places, in Electric LiteraturePaper Darts, BrevityThe BelieverTriQuarterlyGuernica, and Gay Magazine. The piece published in this issue is the third in Megan’s series of Margo stories; the first was published in SmokeLong Quarterly and the second in Passages North. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky with her two children.