by Karley De la Filth
Caught breathless. There was no other way to describe the situation. He had seen the warning signs: that glaze, that glitch in her eyes, that crazy glimmer. It’s not that he had ignored the foreshadowing, it’s that he saw these things bursting out of her petite frame and they had turned him on.
Still, somehow, he had not expected it. ‘She’s too small and weak,’ he had thought. Mentally, she may have had it in her, straining her seams and scars, but physically? No. Those arms were like twigs. The doctor had told her that she had the skeletal structure of a juvenile. They had all seen how she could fit the entire width of her body, from shoulder to shoulder, onto a single x-ray frame.
But here she was, Jesus Christ, blood running down those arms, dripping off the point of her new elbow, drying on the curled tips of her fingers. There was nothing the surgeon could do about those fingers. The ulnar deviation of the wrists had been so bad that the doctors had broken them, fused them straight, making a patchwork of little bones inside those wrists, which had only been subject to gravity again. “Can’t break them again,” they said. “No joint in there to replace.”
She stood there, in the kitchen, all of four feet eleven inches tall, looking like an earlyblooming, deranged fourteen-year-old. He was still getting used to the fact that she could stand at all. She had spent 90% of her life in those wheelchairs. It was a miracle, the way the surgeons had fixed her, and then the therapists had taught her how to use those joints. It had been astounding how she had thrown herself so fully into the rehab, taking the pain like a champ – sometimes with a handful of pills. She had wanted it, so she had taken the chance. Years in those hospitals and nursing homes, all for the opportunity to be ‘normal.’
Well, fuck, this was not normal.
Normal people did not perform some kind of… Intro to Surgery? Human Butchery 101? in their own house. Thank God the house wasn’t like where she had grown up. She no longer lived smashed in someone else’s vision of suburban bliss, houses less than five feet apart, everyone with a quarter-acre backyard to mow in the summertime. Now she lived in a light baby blue, peeling, weathered, clapboard house all alone for miles. And the 50s-style
kitchen had very recently been redecorated in glistening, coppery, brick-red.
“Hi,” she said, wiping the sweat off her forehead with the back of her hand, leaving her spiky bangs tipped in red. She took a step toward him, slipping in a puddle, regaining her balance, her sneakers leaving squishy footprints as she came to greet him.
He stood his ground, not backing away. “What did you do?”
“Fucker asked me out.” She gestured to the dismembered body of her long-time crush.
“I thought that’s what you wanted?”
“He waited. Motherfucker waited until I could walk. All that time I spent twisted up about him, wishing that he would make a move, he waited until I was like an average girl.” Her voice became more hysterical as she continued, “He couldn’t lower himself to date a girl in a wheelchair!” She raised one foot, slipped, tried to raise it again.
With a few quick strides, he came to her side and held her elbow so she could keep her balance. She kicked the carcass with all her might.
“I’m the same fucking girl!” she screamed.