Mrs. Donahue asks for a lab assistant. I watch the second hand on the clock tick by three times and then she calls me to the front of the class because nobody has volunteered. We are in Catholic school so they do not believe in science but they do believe in experiments; making a mess and calling the janitor to come in and clean it while we are in church. Heads bowed in the pews so that we can repent for almost believing in evolution.
I uncurl my body like a snail rolling out of its shell when it sees a pool of salt on the asphalt. The three syllables that make up the name Eleanor roll out of Mrs. Donahue’s mouth. Step step step step step. My sneakers squeak against the linoleum tile underneath the weight of my body and I am all too aware of the toaster pastry I had for breakfast. Blueberry strudel. I feel my thighs rub against each other underneath my short pleated skirt and my neck bent over like an upside-down letter J. I pass the rows of desks, coupled up in pairs and whispers trickle into my ears like water droplets into the gutter.
Mrs. Donahue holds up a pig brain on a silver platter like it is a salmon filet or a prime rib. A pearl of saliva pools at the corner of her mouth, upturned ever-so-slightly. She hands me a scalpel and instructs where I should cut, like I am about to dig in. We learn that brains are made of gray matter and white matter – not pink like the lie we are told to believe.
Blood pools underneath the fatty folds of tissue and I grow queasy, my vision blurred from behind the goggles Mrs. Donahue makes me wear. The spell is broken when she announces that everyone will be getting their own brains and my peers cheer, their hands clasped at shoulder level as if to thank God. They do not understand violence.
You have almost gotten rid of the town dwellers but not one. He sits on the bench at the third bus stop and only stands up for the old women but they refuse his politeness. He stands outside the church on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings and holds the door open but you think it’s a doorstop or God’s will. Invisible to you except for when you need a reason to be angry. He is in the rafters at restaurants and behind trees at picnics and two steps behind you on your run. Everywhere and nowhere at once he gathers secrets like a panopticon.
For each secret he overhears a seed beneath his skin is planted; a little bump protruding from his translucent, freckled flesh each time he hears something you wish he wouldn’t.
Walking around in the summertime shirtless, sun beating down but he does not mind the sunburn that he knows will come; exposing the roots and branches that criss-cross and swirl across his abdomen where veins should be.
Underneath his skin are oranges; plump and soft to the touch that will one poke from a sharp and painted fingernail will burst, leaving our hands smelling like citrus long after you have washed them once, twice, or three times so that you can never forget; even once you’ve pushed him to the next town over.
I Am Not A Wobbly Desk
by Andrew Felsher
... There was also a ceiling in our home that came with leaking and leaking and leaking ...
Lindsay Lerman and David Leo Rice Interview
by Lindsay Lerman & David Leo Rice
... After I finished my last book, I wanted to never speak or write again ...