The Woman in the Chest

by | Apr 11, 2023 | Fiction, Issue Thirty-Two

*Some of the imagery deals with violent subject matter*

The head came disembodied, wrapped in a few of my grandmother’s wool scarves and buried in the crook of a cedar chest good for keeping moths out but more of a relic than anything—an attestation to the abundance of space belonging to the past. A corkscrew spiraled out where her body might’ve been, coiled in impressive polished steel. At its tip, a blunted silver eye. In her face existed no trace of pain, nothing matronly or sad. There was nothing pitiable so it felt fine not pitying her, even when I pulled a beer from the fridge and pressed my finger into the back of her mussed head, just to see how it would feel.

I brought friends over to try her out. Everyone sat at the cedar chest which I’d dragged into the living room since there wasn’t much kitchen left to speak of. For a while I enjoyed sliding her from one side to the other as everyone got drunker; watching her perfect shelf of teeth hook the bottle caps and crack them off—this was the task the artist made her for. But when the boys showed signs they were getting randy I silently tucked her back into the chest and began opening their drinks with my own teeth.

“Cool trick!”

“Another one, over here!”

Blood welled in my mouth. My teeth became jagged shards that pricked my gums. I had to continually spit into an empty bottle. “HAHAHA, YEEEAAAAHH!”

I stood on the chest like a Los Vegas hologram, performing myself into life while the true material of life receded into fiction. Soon there was nothing left to drink; people left too. The bedroom had packed itself up to little more than a square foot of pivot space, so I popped the lid of the cedar chest and climbed inside.

I think I’ll stay here until I stop missing her. Or at least until someone drops it off at your place. Maybe you’ll have more room for this kind of thing than I do.

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