Joanne is seven years old when she eats her baby sister.
She takes her strip of dried and salted flesh with a solemn, grown-up expression. She kneels before the sheriff and sticks out her tongue and he lays the flesh there, like a Communion wafer. Then he does the same thing to Daddy, and then to her new Mommy, and she notices that Daddy’s eyes are wet but Mommy’s eyes are shining.
There’s a difference in that, Joanne knows, but she can’t quite pin it down.
Later, when Daddy whisks them away from Childgrave, he’ll claim to the press that he never ate his daughter, that he refused her flesh and was punished sorely for it. But Joanne remembers kneeling next to him, remembers watching the strip of muscle hit his tongue.
Why would he lie about it? Isn’t lying wrong?
He says he doesn’t know what human flesh tastes like, but Joanne does. It tastes like veal. She’s known that since she was four, since she met her new Mommy, since she met Colony and developed a taste for raw meat, for uncooked bites of hamburger, for soaking up the blood from her plate with a slice of bread.
“Do you have any regrets?” the reporters ask Daddy.
He doesn’t answer. Joanne could, if he let her:
She regrets not eating more while she had the chance.