by Christina Dalcher
She keeps pieces of past and would-be lovers in jelly jars, crowded on dusty shelves in the root cellar under her front porch. Johnny’s tongue floating in a brine broth. The knob of Adam’s thyroid bone that stuck out and bobbed like he swallowed a mouse after he listened to the fifth doctor tell them how it was. Tears shed by Dave and Javier and Sam when she told them it’s not you it’s me which they thought meant it’s not me it’s you but she knew it wasn’t them, it was all her. Or part of her. Her favorite is the top bit of an ex-boyfriend’s cock that she never allowed inside, so she houses it in a special bottle of cut lead crystal and gives it a prominent place in the center of the menagerie. Sometimes, she takes it out to play with, feeling its soft skin, wondering how something so small could cause so much pain.
Another one comes along, a singer with a solid tenor whose only flaw is its attachment to a man. After their third date, she snatches out his larynx, sends him on his way, and listens to his lullabies on lonely evenings. She steals a banker’s pinky, the one with the ring on it, the one he insisted wasn’t too big but it was fucking huge, it was the size of a ballistic missile when he tried to put it in. Also, the rattlesnake tattoo of a Harley rider because it makes her feel engaged and sexy without actually being either.
She has hundreds and hundreds of parts, none of which fit. Not tongues or pinkies or the tips of noses. Not little toes. Not the tootsie roll trouser snake Brad said couldn’t possibly hurt, not much, just relax baby, I’ll be gentle, lie back and think of England. She loves all of them, all their valiant efforts to penetrate her hymen of doom, but none fits and so they stay in the root cellar and when the solitude gets to be too much she opens the jar with Dave and Javier and Sam’s tears and adds her own to it.
Christina Dalcher holds a doctorate in theoretical linguistics from Georgetown University, and writes from her home in the American South. Over one hundred of her stories have appeared in print or online in various journals, including The Airgonaut, Bartleby Snopes, (b)OINK, The Molotov Cocktail, and New South Journal. Recognitions include The Bath Flash Award’s Short List; nominations for The Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best Small Fictions; Mslexia’s Novel Contest Long List; and first place in The Short Story Flash Fiction Competition. Laura Bradford of Bradford Literary Agency represents her novels. Find Christina on Twitter @CVDalcher, or read additional work at www.christinadalcher.com.