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To Be Loved Naturally (after David Cronenberg) by Malik Berry

I want to be loved the way the bear loves the deer.

When you think of bears, you think of large fat beasts with thick fur. You think of an animal you would hate to come across, no matter the color of its coat. You fear getting chased, getting mauled, or getting devoured.

These are irrational fears compared to malaria from a mosquito or a plummet into a ravine. In truth, bears mostly eat fish and vegetation. It’s what keeps them sustained during the winter when they move slowest, not hibernate as we have been taught.

A bear must be desperate to eat a deer. It must be scrounging for food. It must be hoping for easy pickings. I want to be loved with that level of desperation.

I want to be found broken and injured, screaming for my kin in a voice that betrays my physical grace. It should be a bloodcurdling cry, not the rustic mating calls in springtime. I want to be helpless. I want the only humans around to be distant, observers, and no Good Samaritans. No zealous animal rights activists either, just hacks with cameras, hungry for engagement with the act they will witness.

When the bear arrives, I want to scream louder. I want his ears to pin back, not only desperate for food, but now desperate for silence. He’s hungry, and annoyed. He wants to end my misery, close my mouth, and tear me apart all at once. I want it to mount me without ceremony, so I will scream again, and move awkwardly under its hulking weight. One move of my head towards its own, and I am offering my neck to his teeth. His claws cannot retract, so every time he holds me, it’s like death by a thousand stings. My screams will become more strained, excepting my fate, but still writhing around as the bear has full control of my body. His thick arms reaching around to clutch my front legs to my chest, his loins pressing down so hard on my haunches that I can feel my pelvis shatter. He rolls with me in its grasp while I shudder, and my eyes go wide. I am not yet dead, but the anticipation has me both stiff and shaking like a leaf.

I want to look up at the distant human hikers, some with hands over their mouths in shock, others with their phone cameras tilted down into the glen where the bear dominates me. The whites of my eyes will say help me, but on the inside, I I will never feel more desired than this moment. It is this moment where I want the bear to huff and growl close to my ears, then sink his teeth into my thin neck. I want him to hold it between his jaws, eyes going as dead as mine while he drinks in the moment, making the ultimate connection with this broken animal, who so desperately needed release. A release that now he will experience, having spent all his strength on me. It may be too much for him to handle, so much that he jerks his head around, tearing my skin, and ripping my throat asunder. My blood will pour onto the ivy beneath us, and as he comes back to his senses, I want him to bathe his face in my essence. I want the last sight the hikers will see of us to be the bare, licking my open neck wound, as gently as he does grooming his cub.

That is the love that I want. That is the release that I need. That is the scene I want to set, and make the whole world watch, and wonder if it is obscene, or if it is nature.

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