Friday, April 19, 2013

Rose by Sarah Shaw

    I didn't mean to kill her, but I did. I don't even know how I killed her, but I did. I wish I knew, but that doesn't make her any less dead or any less real. Because she IS real. Here. And now. And when I close my eyes and when I open them...she's always there and I want her to go away and I feel guilty for that and I beg her forgiveness. I don't know if she hears me, but she's still there, existing. Existing inside, outside and even upside-down.

    Being haunted sucks. Even if I deserve it, which I do. I've never known how to take my atonement with grape jelly like a good girl. Even when it pretends to be an airplane. I can't swallow. How am I still here and she's not but really still is?

    I'm lying on my bed in my stuffy, dry room with no windows. She's here, hovering. Not above me, she never gets that close. But near. Maybe I just think the room has no windows. Most rooms have windows to look out of and see the sun and the snow and the life.

    There she is, not flying, but hovering. She's weightless since she's not here but is. She's still, her eyes closed and as purple as the only time I held her and she escaped from my embrace and left me with a shell. Was it my tears that killed her. No, it was something I did before that. She won't tell me.

     Is she angry that she had to share? That her roommate grew bigger while she desperately played catch-up. I hear her roommate roll over in his sleep in the next room...the one with windows and I feel the guilt again. Or still. I feel it still. Like her, the guilt is always just changes forms.

    She floats down and touches her tiny, open mouth to my toe and I jerk my foot back. She shoots back up quickly and I slowly stretch my leg back to where it was. Did I really feel her? Did she touch me. She's never touched me before. Her eyes are open slits and I think she's staring at me, her miniature face contorted into an incomprehensible expression. Her mouth opens and then I hear it. Barely, but I hear it: “You replaced me.”

    In the next room, the one with windows, her replacement shifts in his sleep and emits a soft whine. I think about how different things would be if he was a girl or wasn't here at all. Guilt again. Always and always shifting and changing.

    “I didn't mean to,” I whisper, or maybe just thought. Is she still staring? I can't tell. She's hovering closer now and touches her mouth to my knee. I lie still and feel a pinch on my skin. That's something new and real and here.

     The roommate and the replacement shuffle a bit in their beds. I think it's still dark outside but it doesn't matter since it's always dark. And cold. And she's still pinching my skin between her toothless gums. A tiny pinch since she has a tiny mouth. I want to bat her away like an insect, but I don't.

    She releases my knee and glides through space to just above my belly. She opens her mouth even wider to bite down on the loose skin and fat just below my navel. I don't, am unable to resist this behavior from her. She deserves it. She's earned it. Her little gums grow needles that pierce my skin and she rips the bit of flesh away from my body and dissolves it.

    My brain has less weight now.

    She repeats her actions until she digs a hole in my abdomen large enough for her tiny head. My belly reaches for her and vacuums her into myself.

    She is here but not here and I drift into a guiltless sleep.


Sarah Shaw lives in the middle of Alaska where she thinks up stuff and writes it down.

Copyright 2013 Sarah Shaw
Art by Tony Horne Shepherd

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