A ladder leaned against the clinic’s wall, a ribbon strip stirring in the wind. Inside, people with sagging skin spotted the waiting room. A few wore masks; a few coughed. My phone pinged. It was my father, writing to me about his uncle’s forged will, how his brother had made alterations so that he’d receive the bulk of the estate. There was always something. A nurse swung open the door and called out my name. The procedure was quick, my soul fished out of me and left swimming in a jar.
It was a very nice jar.
After I walked into the diner next door, I walked into an accident. A small child was choking. The servers ran, did the Heimlich beside the screaming mother. I didn’t like it when attention drifted away from me. I gripped my arm tight and fell to the floor, kicking and screaming. I was making a scene. Now the servers were running towards me. The choking child had survived, a chunk of potato pulled from his throat and placed at the center of his table. I bought a slice of pie after they lifted me to my feet, patting my face with a paper towel, rubbing my back. But I felt awful and naked now. I didn’t like it. I thought of the piece of cotton I’d soaked in linseed oil and kept dug deep in my shoe. A small part of me hoped this would lead to some spontaneous combustion. So far, it hadn’t.
I chewed into the fork dripping with cherry pie innards until my front teeth ached.
Joshua Vigil lives in the Pioneer Valley. His work has appeared in Hobart, HAD, Maudlin House, and elsewhere.