Published: February 5, 2019
For love of a human man, a weasel turned herself into a woman.
She locked away her fierceness, blunted her teeth against the edges of rocks. She shed her soft sleek fur, leaving only cold white naked skin behind. When there was nothing left of her, when she was no more than a fading memory of something that had, once, been a weasel, she went to the man she loved and begged him – as she had once before, on the day when she learned to despise herself, to rake her claws through fur and skin and let the blood shine through – to be with her, to marry her, to love her.
Now that she was a weasel no longer, the man (quite graciously, she thought) agreed.
She did not miss being a weasel, very much. The man loved her, just as he had promised. He called her his ermine, because she was beautiful (he said), and because she was pure: like snow, he said, like a funeral lily. She was not a stoat – she had never been a stoat – but all the same she was proud to be his ermine.
(It was only later that she realised what he meant by the word. That he was a hunter; that she was his prey. That she should give herself up rather than stain herself – that she should choose death before allowing any trace of the weasel inside of her to show. That she was his for the keeping.)
She was good. She kept her teeth blunt and her fingers to herself, and never dared to leap and twist in the joyous dance of the hunt. She fed herself on vegetables and grains, though her throat rebelled against the not-food and her belly cried for meat, though she grew sick and wasted without it. How could she not? He loved her, and she did what she must so that his love remained hers.
(Who would not change themself for the one they love? Who would not give themself up?)
But no matter how she wore herself down, no matter what she carved away out of her flesh, there was something of the weasel in her still. It was there in the tiny treasures she ferreted away, when the man forgot to watch her, to bring herself comfort in the naked cold of her woman’s flesh. It was there in her hunger, in the fierceness she had pushed down and locked away but never managed to burn. It was there in the deathlike sleep from which the man could never wake her.
It wasn’t much. But it was all she had, and it was more than the man would suffer.
On the day that he cast her out (with shame and laughter and cruelty, as on that day so long ago when her claws had first become knives), the woman once more became a weasel: soft and sleek and once again fierce, though not yet joyous. Her teeth were still blunted; she let her claws remain knives.
He did not bleed from the wounds she cut into him. He felt no pain. (Perhaps she loved him, still. Perhaps she gentled the edge of her blade.) But the wounds were deep, and would not heal; and the weasel flew away on the wind.