Worn-Out Fabric • Meg Tuite

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A man lived with less than a quarter of his brain. He kissed his wife and kids goodbye every weekday and went to work. No one noticed anything was missing until the day he collapsed, after eating a bologna sandwich, and died. The autopsy revealed a lack.

Some episodes can’t be recorded. I go places for no reason other than the feeling of movement, of cortex not sending any destination to feet. Laundromats find me without dirty clothes and quarters. I sit in libraries but don’t read, wander grocery aisles for hours and don’t buy or steal anything, tell more about myself to clerks than I ever knew was true.

The three babies I aborted appear at every cocktail party. The Swiss ex-fetus photographs me. Then it’s the Irish kid. Then the Italian. No one told me in-vitro could become outer-violate (each hellion has her own Polaroid camera), or how it is to be at a cocktail party while the United Nations of spermatic/egg salad hover, their projectile ids grabbing my jaw, turning my face this way and that.

“Your right side is best—that knobby cheekbone that juts from the rutted landscape of your last boyfriend’s caress,” says one.

“Just smile for once, and pretend you’re social,” says the other.

“What’s with the girdle?” asks the third. “You embrace facades, don’t you?”

Operatic highs and lows fill the room, pilfered from yesterdays. I understand mangled lives. A man sits next to me. He is somebody’s husband, in a polo shirt. “Can I get you a drink?”

“Double scotch on the rocks,” I say as one of the beasts sets a hand on the man’s crotch.

“I can give you anything you want,” he says to my cleavage.

“Just the scotch, thank you.”

He rubs his knee against mine. “You want to follow?”

“No.” I am too weary to fake confusion or subtlety.

“You little fuckers,” I whisper when his cheap aftershave drifts away.

“Sit down,” I tell them. Irish kid raises indistinct eyebrows, Swiss kid throbs dull lethargy and Italian molds into cushions and waits.

“You get it, right? Look around. Humans are mishaps of their own imaginations,” I tell them. “They are delusional, with plastic dialogue and grim lives. Most of them either drink too much or too little to dismember their disgust. Remember, I had you sucked out of my uterus to spare you this shit.”

The trio nods.

“Some couple broke a condom, and here I am again,” says the Irish kid.

“A Catholic offered up the only education she got,” says the Swiss girl. “Her fiancée is an imbecile with no idea he wasn’t the father.”

This hybrid Sicilian works with everything, even sheep,” says the Italian as Polo Shirt moves toward me with two drinks. “An orifice that bleats incomprehensible verbiage is easier.”

The three non-entities nod.

“His perfume exudes pompous ass, but he cries every night,” says one as the shades make room for the sadly agitated man.

“Life has exiled him to play-acting. His mother has psychotic episodes, and his brother is schizophrenic.”

The man hands me a glass filled with the color of tea and weathered tourniquets.

Irish kid knocks the man’s cigarette out of his hand. He drops to his knees to retrieve it. A Polaroid’s flash tries to reanimate me. I cover my face.

_____

bio photo w_ tattooMeg Tuite is the author of two short story collections, Bound By Blue (2013) Sententia Books and Domestic Apparition (2011) San Francisco Bay Press, three chapbooks and a poetic prose/poetry chap w/ David Tomaloff coming out in 2015. She won the Twin Antlers Collaborative Poetry award from Artistically Declined Press for her poetry collection, Bare Bulbs Swinging (2014) written with Heather Fowler and Michelle Reale. She teaches at the Santa Fe Community College, is fiction editor for Santa Fe Literary Review, a featured columnist at Connotation Press, and has a monthly column in JMWW. She lives in Santa Fe with her husband and menagerie of pets. Her blog: http://megtuite.com

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