By Olivia J. Young
She had been lying like a bloated question mark for some time, how long I couldn’t say anymore. I counted days in the pooling sludge that had begun to halo around my wife, and our partially birthed child. Flies pecked at the windows, looking for the cracks that bled sunlight. Winged scavengers looking to make those cracks bleed flies.
My skin was slipping from my body like grease with the proper technique, but other parts clung to my meat like a layer of Elmer’s Glue left to dry on my hands and be peeled later. I spread sheets of flesh on the cherry oak dining room table, muculent side up. I had been flaying myself for days. At first my knuckles would curl and jerk my fingers like raptor claws every time I slid the scalpel under my tissue. By Wednesday my knuckles stopped fighting. I wrapped my thighs in sanitary dressings and shot a few tabs of expired penicillin into my mouth. They were from a post-honeymoon infection that I had kept to myself.
Her body was bubblesome and blackened first by our baby, then by arson, and last by putrefaction. I scraped her skin off like spilled milk that had and was left to curdle and harden. It made a tisk tisk tisk noise, like a sloth scraping dead-flakes from the back of my sun-bitten neck at Keuka lake. With ginger care I plucked the sheets of my shucked landscape and placed them on the cool slime of her fresh flayed body like a quilt. I spritzed her down with Febreeze to curb the sweet smell of her rotting organs. I smiled through the handywork, scrubbing the decay from her bloated form. Easing her for the birth of our child, a little late, but born nonetheless.
Olivia was born and raised in Rochester, New York. She writes poetry and fiction and studies psychology, sociology, and English at SUNY Brockport. Her work has appeared in Jigsaw.