I was too young to know what it meant. You can’t know what things mean when you can only see things as they seem with young eyes. Experience leads to context and there’s no way to find the context that hides between lies. Not when you’re only seven.
Still, I will always remember the first.
When we moved to town, mother told me the details that I wasn’t allowed to share. The secrets to keep from the world. The things to hide from covetous men with greedy eyes. I wasn’t supposed to talk to him, but that particular stranger seemed nice, so I forgot the rule that time.
He took my hand and spoke of caramel dreams. His words painted gummy bear visions as he led the way into the trees. He was not a good man and I should have known better, but how can you know without the contexts that experiences show?
I will always remember the first.
In the woods, through the canopy of dark sky-reaching limbs, the clouds above spun away from me as I gazed. The night hid his intent as he licked his lips and drooled like a wild hungry thing.
My stomach rumbled. I was hungry too. As we walked the clouds churned further and slipped away, letting the moon filter through.
It glowed down on us in the clearing. He was taking off his shirt, but I didn’t have the context for what this meant. Luckily, it didn’t matter. The moon kept him from his foul scheme.
Mother was angry with me that night, when I tramped back out of the undergrowth. Growling, she reminded me of the rules once more. I told her I hadn’t shared a thing. All the secrets were ours still. The man that came and whisked me astray, luring with his cotton-candy lies had gone away.
In my memories, the soundtrack of his screams still echo through the trees. The full moon whispered to me then of better, darker dreams. It made me wild and howling. I ran. I pounced through the untamed world like the wind. My ears alerted and I honed in. I dug with my paws and my teeth in. I ripped out his heart. It still beat; the cadence weak. I ate my fill.
I swore I heard those same screams when I met the second and the third. I swore I smelled that same red heat as I drove my muzzle through their shirts and clawed my way inside to my beating prize.
But I will always remember the first.
Once a month, I thirst. I chase that rush through the trees. The context of that kill still haunts me like a dream. None of those that followed ever tasted quite as sweet, for none of those that followed had the decadence of those same “just-desserts.” That is why I think that I will always remember the first.