I meet with my lawyer and she asks for a list of tangible things I could supply. 

She asks, ‘Was anyone in the room when she threw the glass at you?’ 

‘No,’ I reply. ‘It was midnight.’

‘Do you have any scars from the boiling soup that hit you?’ 

I roll my sleeves up. ‘Like to show the jury?’

‘What about photos of bruises?’

‘Those I have,’ I yell enthusiastically! 

My lawyer’s jaw drops and she serves several handclaps in my direction. 

‘That’s excellent,’ she says. ‘Bruises, welts, proof, check!’ 

She says, ‘I want you to go back home and I want you to look around your apartment, feel your way around, smell your way around. Set the table for two and don’t check back until the morning. Who comes for dinner? What can you find? What’s left behind?’ 

Like a schoolgirl gone mad, I pencil down notes and think back to the days my father used to make me show him my report card. We work to be loved in this household. 

The glass was the first thing I found circulating. When I say circulating I mean it covered a patch behind my bed and I kept it circulating by pressing my hand into the shards every so often then squeezing my fist until I bled from deep. I smeared the crimson remnants throughout the house. Mostly I leaned on the bathroom to collect any droppings. I didn’t even realize the glass was there until the morning light hit it just right.

Next my breakfasts, lunches, and dinners exclusively became dumpling soup. In the beginning I had purchased the soup through M Noodle. But once Riley taught me how to make pasta it was over for the entire Tri-State area. I stuffed my dumplings with pork, beef, vegetables, then made my way to lamb because it was the most supple and I found people liked devouring innocent things if it was seasoned just right. Riley of course was the first to taste and she said, ‘What the fuck, this is art.’ I leaned back and said, ‘Isn’t it?’ Then we made a plan. She suggested selling the dumplings at $9 a quart. If I made enough of a marketing plan, she said, I could recoup expenses to pay off that skin graft. ‘I don’t know,’ I said back to her. ‘I consider it a parting gift sometimes. Like look at this treasured thing that separates me from the rest. When things are that luxurious, you pay in installments.’  It’s miraculous the way you can shred pieces of yourself to prop up other pieces of yourself. 

As for the bruises, sometimes I pinched myself so hard that they resurfaced. I didn’t want my lawyer to forget my story. I didn’t want your anger to be in vain. I thought, what kind of monster would let you go so easy?

The next time I see my lawyer I bring a bucket filled with glass. I bring photos printed out, glossed on 8 x 11. I bring her 10 quarts of my famous dumpling soup, pro-bono. She looks things over and coos. ‘It’s a start,’ she says fingering the glass until she too bleeds. ‘But we’ll need more.’

 

10 Comments

  1. Bud Smith

    This was a wild story with its own internal logic that didn’t care to draw a map for the reader. Either you had faith when you read it, or too bad for you. It had the same kind of confidence that David Lynch has in his work. You are either along for the ride or you’re too worried about understanding. Sometimes in life there are things even in the regular universe that we live in that scientists haven’t puzzled out yet. Anyways, I salute you. I really liked this part and laughed a lot: “Next my breakfasts, lunches, and dinners exclusively became dumpling soup. In the beginning I had purchased the soup through M Noodle. But once Riley taught me how to make pasta it was over for the entire Tri-State area.” You’re a very funny and wise writer. I took the opening remark to be very existential … “She asks, ‘Was anyone in the room when she threw the glass at you?’
    ‘No,’ I reply. ‘It was midnight.’” The fact that there was no one else in the room would have to make it so then that the narrator has caused self-harm against herself and if she has done this in some altered state or under some duress from society, I could see how there would be a civil suit, so the whole thing very stressful and deep and sad but also, i am laughing in the same way that I laugh at Kafka’s The Trial. The absurdity is not the point of the story, the world is absurd and the self is absurd and how can the art be any other way? We ask the jury this now.

    • Bud Smith

      If you are looking to expand and explore, I could see the narrator going to trial and having to defend their whole life, just like the end of Pink Floyd’s The Wall.

  2. Amy Barnes

    I shouldn’t read the other comments first — now I’m seeing this with Pink Floyd playing in my background mind. 🙂 Yet another interesting entry from you — has been a great weekend of reading!

    For some reason, my eye was drawn immediately to the ending sentences. They just feel artsy and encompassing. That works as an ending but how shocking would it be to just go in with this? In a larger piece, maybe not but in flash, I think it could work. I think there’s a movie with Brittany Murphy in it that focuses on an American girl that goes overseas to learn how to make noodles. This has that same artsy filmy feel. Disorienting but believable.

    “The next time I see my lawyer I bring a bucket filled with glass. I bring photos printed out, glossed on 8 x 11. I bring her 10 quarts of my famous dumpling soup, pro-bono. She looks things over and coos. ‘It’s a start,’ she says fingering the glass until she too bleeds. ‘But we’ll need more.’

    I have no idea how you could make it work but I could see those sentences starting this entire flash. Love the idea of juxtaposing lawyers/legal/lists throughout. The checking off of injuries and tangible things. Addressing painful things through lists. Mr. Noodle. Art. Dumplings for sale at $9 a quart. A lovely recipe for healing and perhaps suing?

    • K Chiucarello

      @Amy, thank you for the suggesting of moving this paragraph to the top. I absolutely love it and it’s an excellent excuse to restructure in a more formal list-abiding way.

  3. Janelle Greco

    K, what a great piece. I love the line, “I found people liked devouring innocent things if it was seasoned just right.” I agree with Bud that I really enjoyed the fact that the story doesn’t give a damn whether or not you as the reader can follow the logic here. And there definitely is some sort of logic. I could see you continuing with this or doing another piece that focuses just on the trial. The title works well here too. The piece itself is like a soup that we’re swimming in and the narrator asks that we be fully immersed. Like I said, you could continue this logic and see where it takes you. It left me wanting more, which is a great feeling. Thank you so much for sharing your pieces during this workshop! I really enjoyed them 🙂

  4. Taylor Grieshober

    Wow, K!
    Such an intriguing story. I agree with Bud in that it seems to operate on its own logic. I don’t understand what’s going on but I don’t feel like I need to. This is at turns funny and dark, especially with the exuberance the narrator shows in showing their lawyer their bruises. There seems to be a narrative happening around violence here, the lengths we have to go to prove we’ve been hurt or mistreated. A line that I will never forget: “We work to be loved in this household.”
    Thank you for letting me read your work this weekend. I loved every minute of it.

  5. David O'Connor

    Love the progressions and circling back. The title works. The crazed happiness of the lawyer is all too true and helps set the tone for this wild ride. I think it’s a bloody great piece, wouldn’t change much, if anything, send it out! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Martha Jackson Kaplan

    K, This hurt like glass to read, and it’s a piece not easy to forget. Kudos. This is such an ironic rendition of law and therapy. That last paragraph, “The next time I see my lawyer I bring a bucket filled with glass. I bring photos printed out, glossed on 8 x 11. I bring her 10 quarts of my famous dumpling soup, pro-bono. She looks things over and coos. ‘It’s a start,’ she says fingering the glass until she too bleeds. ‘But we’ll need more.'” — What if the more is the glass, the photos, and now 20 gallons of dumpling soup and the scene is that you and the lawyer are lugging it all into court to have it filed into evidence. Face of the judge? The opposing attorney? What’s the objection?

  7. Lisa Moore

    This is wild. I do skin grafts for a living (plastic surgery) and I can’t get this story out of my head. It’s visual and self-referential and unfettered. There’s a weird cinematic energy to it. I wouldn’t change anything!! Congrats on this strange and excellent work.

  8. Neil Clark

    I loved that I had no idea where you were going with that until I did! The wackiness totally works, and I also love the visceral detail. Favourite lines (although so many to choose from!) are this- “We work to be loved in this household.” and how fucked up this is “I found people liked devouring innocent things if it was seasoned just right.” and how universally true this is – “It’s miraculous the way you can shred pieces of yourself to prop up other pieces of yourself.”

    My only suggestion would be to look at whether you need the very last sentence – ‘But we’ll need more.’ Could ending with “fingering the glass until she too bleeds” be more impactful?

    Fantastic work once again, K.

Submit a Comment

Pin It on Pinterest