“Mari,” mother said. “Will you dial him please. For me. For us.” Her wiry smile settled in again. It was wrong how still her spirit stood within her while mine trembled at the sound of the phone, nightmare noise perforating my ears. And the thought: It hates me and I hate me. I did as she said, ear cut out of my chicken hands by accident. My young blood flowed out to meet the receiver as I picked it up. I ripped out the numbers stitched to my heart and watched them spin—round and around the dial. Tiny moths fluttered above the withered rose on the nightstand by mother’s bed. A belated Valentine from my absent father. The bronze man who popped into my room late- night bearing feathery kisses and feeble hugs. Nothing strong enough to sustain me. Still, I floated in their memory, desperate to drown free. A clipped voice answered, “What? Who is this?” A greeting clung to the edge of my tongue tasting like the hard-plastic toys I chewed on as a baby. Mother mimed, Go on, speak! With the ghost of her voice, I surrendered my name, uncoiled the snake attached to my wrist. The woman on the other end listened. Blonde-fuzzed ears twitched violently against my mouth. In stiff silence, she searched my voice inside out. In the end she said, “Sorry, he hasn’t got a daughter.” Then there was only static.
Sarah Marquez is an MA candidate at Southern New Hampshire University. She has work published and forthcoming in various magazines and journals, including Amethyst Review, Anthropocene, Peculiars Magazine, and Crêpe & Penn. When not writing, she can be found reading, sipping coffee, or tweeting @Sarahmarissa338.