I’m in pain.
Truth be told, I want to hurt. I like the idea of hurting. Of suffering. Of retribution. It’s my cross to bear. I should carry it with a smile.
But God, that smile. The one in the mirror. That gaping gash of a grin. Blood-tipped canines and gore-caked molars. Evidence of violence; evidence of depravity — all exposed in a smile of the purest, truest joy.
“Do you remember how she tasted?” my teeth ask. “Do you remember the texture and consistency? The chew?”
I do my best to ignore them, but they bite my tongue. I taste blood. Again.
“Stop,” I demand. “I can’t.”
My tongue, wounded, chimes in. Its voice is wet and heavy. “She tasted sour. And sharp, depending on the parts. But unique. Unique Monique.”
My tonsils giggle. A rush of saliva trickles down my throat.
“I loved her,” I whimper. Tears carve paths down my cheeks — hotter than the saliva in my throat, but cooler than the blood on my tongue.
“You still can,” my lips insist. “She’s still here.”
I feel a deep sensation of fullness in my belly. The tears only flow harder.
“You can be close to Monique,” chime the incisors.
Other parts murmur their agreement. Salivary ducts ooze.
“Watch,” my mouth parts say in unison.
I bring my arm up and bite the bottom of my left biceps. The muscle tears, the remainder rolling up into the flesh, its tension relieved. Blood drips onto the floor.
The skin and muscle turn to pulp in my mouth. My tongue and palate coax my throat into swallowing. Just like they did with Monique.
“Now put your arm around her,” the thick tongue laughs, as the meat sinks into my belly.
Eyelids close over leaking eyes. The monster in the mirror is gone. I see the love of my life standing at the edge of a crystalline lake. With effortless precision, she skips a flat stone over the surface. It hops more times than I can count, then slips into a gentle glide before losing momentum and sinking into the warm water. The air is alive with birdsongs.
She turns and looks at me with adoration. The spring sunshine has brought out the dusting of freckles on her soft cheeks.
“Can you beat that?” Monique asks. Her grin is one of innocence and delight.
“No way,” my mouth smirks. “You’re too good.”
With a satisfied nod, she plops on the blanket next to me. Her head rests on my shoulder; the auburn ringlets of her hair tickling my cheek. My arm encircles her waist. My left biceps brushes her lower back.
My eyes open to the sight of the veins in my left arm being stripped down to the wrist by gnashing teeth. They laugh with delirious pleasure.
“C’mon Louis, if you want to be with her so bad, you better hurry up!”
I look at the corpse on the ground at my feet. I can hardly recognize her. Every aspect of her that I’d loved was gone. Her cheeks. Her lips. Eyes. Tongue. Hands. Heart. Brain. Hair.
Gone, but not really missing. Just different. I pondered this as I ate my fingers.
“How will anyone know what happened here?” It was thought, not spoken.
My mouth didn’t mind. It knows everything I think.
“You might want to write a note before we start on that other arm,” my gums suggest. They’ve always been the most helpful.
And here I am. It’s not easy to type with one hand.
“It’s not easy to hug with one arm, either,” my uvula posits. It’s waiting for my tongue and teeth to manipulate free the last morsel of meat from the underside of my thumbnail.
I sigh as waves of dizziness try to draw my attention away from the task at hand. It’s okay, though. We’re almost done here.
The voices in my mouth are quiet right now. I appreciate that. I’ve been cold throughout this process, but I’m starting to warm up. I’m thinking about the reunion that’s waiting for me. That next moment of closeness.
My stomach gurgles. A smile crosses my face. A real one, this time. That gurgle is Monique’s new voice. It’s soft and unimposing. Inquisitive, too. Undeniably her. And I think she’s asking me to stop wasting time and come inside.
I can’t deny her that.
I can’t deny us that.
No one can. Or will.
© Max Lobdell, 2019. May not be reproduced in any format without express written permission.