Nighttime Hungers by Maggie D. Fedorov

Pedro-lastra_106_Nighttime Hungers by Maggie D. Fedorov
Art by Pedro Lastra

Nighttime Hungers
By Maggie D. Fedorov

Published Issue 106, October 2022

I began dreaming of the hole when I was 4-and-a-half. It was the first year my parents took me to visit Nina’s tiny grave in the family cemetery on the far edge of the sprawling acreage of my childhood home that I could actually understand who and what we were there for. We went on October 24th, the anniversary of my twin sister’s death; and I dreamt of the hole that ate her once a week or more for the next eight years. At the time I don’t think I even noticed I had stopped having those dreams; life simply went on, as it is apt to do. The return of the nightmare, however, left a lasting impression in stark contrast to its fading away.

In a vast darkness, the hole suddenly WAS. It lay in the dirt and pulsed as if it had a heartbeat, leaving hallucinatory tracers. Rocks jutting from the edges of that godforsaken pit could easily have been mistaken for teeth, and as I leaned over the edge to catch a glimpse of my sister resting in it, the hole gave one final, ferocious pulse. Off balance, I fell and it ate me too. But this time instead of landing hard in the gullet of the beast, a ringing roused me from my nightmare and I found myself standing in the dark kitchen of my studio apartment already clutching the phone.


She let out a gentle, tired sob and I knew even before she said the words. My heart sank directly to my feet; my body and the floor met each other there in a cold embrace.

Thirteen hours later, I step onto the tarmac at Spokane International Airport clutching a lukewarm coffee and my carry-on. Exhausted and blind to the people and things around me, I navigate from memory to the parking lot and don’t have to try hard to find her. My mother’s sideways smile and red 4-Series stick out like a sore thumb here more than most places.

She holds me long and tight, leaving a slowly expanding wet spot on the sleeve of my blouse as it soaks up her liquid grief.

“You and me against the world now, Petra.” 

She steps back, wipes tears from her face, looks deep into my soul, and smiles.

“You and me against the world,” I echo back at her, fighting the burning tears welling in my own eyes.

She takes my bag and places it gingerly in the back seat; an unspoken invitation to move past the words neither of us are ready to hear spoken aloud just yet. We’ll save our sorrows for the graveside, as we always have.

I-90 East towards Coeur d’Alene is eerily quiet for midafternoon on a Friday; but, then again, nothing about this day has yet to turn out “normal,” so why should the traffic be any different?

“How long will you stay?” she asks.

“At least through Wednesday.”

My temple pressed to the cool glass of the passenger window, I pick at my fingernail polish and mark the passage of landmarks that signal the approach of home: passing through the North Pole (“Always listen for reindeer, even in July.”), the Westmond Cemetery (“The funeral industry is a scam, Petra. People have cared for their own dead as far back as the beginning of us all. Cemeteries are a colonizer’s innovation to drain the wallets of people who don’t know better. But we know better, don’t we, Noodle?”), and finally, the road signs that loudly proclaim: “LAKE PEND OREILLE – IDAHO’S LARGEST LAKE.”

Daddy is – was – proudly one-eighth Kalispel, and loved to speak at great length about how thoroughly this inspired his work to anyone who would sit still long enough to listen. His music told the stories of the lake’s earliest inhabitants: Wren, Coyote, Fox, and other characters that were the epicenter of the tales told to him by his grandfather when he was a boy. I was never fortunate enough to hear the folktales, but when Daddy was composing he’d often sit me down and ask me to tell him what I thought the story said through the music.

“You have a stronger music noodle than your mother,” he’d whisper with a wink, just before he started to play. 

The stories were in our blood, he often told me. That’s why I had the noodle, and Mom didn’t.

The memory stings my eyes and I press harder against the glass to bring myself back to the here and now. Being home was never so hard as this. Every place, every object, every familiar face; they all have a story that ties him to them. Everything here is a reminder of my grief, as if his death had ripped the heart right out of my chest and left a gaping hole for my very life to pour out of, hot and sticky. In Seattle I could bury it; pretend it wasn’t real. Here it is inescapable.

The ascent up the halfmile gravel drive to the house triggers a quickening of my pulse that throbs in the space between my skull and the passenger window. There is a fear behind the anticipation, though I can’t place what for. I have seen death before; smelled its putrescence. The fact that I can’t pinpoint where this dread takes root in me only amplifies it. I peel my head from the glass, but the pulsing does not cease. Instead, it beats on in my chest, a steadily thumping cadence to which the next several days will become attuned. That much I already know to be true. I feel it in my bones like the chill of winter.

The key turns in the door, and as it opens the air that pours out through the crack makes my hair stand on end. It’s electric with the same inescapable dread that first found me at the far end of the laneway. Mom looks over her shoulder at me and flashes a toothy grin reminiscent of a greeting you might get from a gorilla; friendly, yet frightening.

She leads me through the entryway into the Great Room where, in the middle sits his hospice bed, and atop the blankets lay my father.

“JESUS, Mom– ” I drop my bag, kneel next to him on the floor and take his hand in mine, “– when did he get so … small?”  

To be continued.

Born and raised in the Greater Seattle Area, Maggie D. Fedorov began to develop her inquisitive nature and lust for exploration when she was very small. Maggie considers herself a lifelong learner, and as such she spends much of her free time reading, researching, honing her skills in the arts and other hobbies, and naturally, planning her next adventures!

Maggie’s writing stems from a desire to delve into and capture what it means to be human at its very core; this tug-of-war that we play with the elements which mold our lives as we fight and embrace them, and using our observations to develop more vital roots anchoring us to the elements we all battle and nurture in our own lives. It was out of a compulsive need to share this form of expression and exploration that Maggie Fedorov, the writer, was born.

Maggie shares her travels and her life with her husband, Sam. The two are often found indulging in desserts, collectively dreaming about their future fur babies, and attempting to achieve Nirvana through the flawless integration of bad puns and dad jokes in normal conversation. See more on her Instagram.

Check out Maggie’s September Birdy piece, Gone Walking on a Cold September Mourning, or head to our Explore section to see more work by this talented artist.