Prompt: You’re no stranger to feeling bouts of deep sadness with seemingly no trigger or cause. One particularly bad day, you notice the skin over your heart is cracked. Following your discovery, the condition worsens.
“Why’re on the floor without a shirt?” Greg says, standing in the doorway. Sunlight lances around him, illuminating the trash piled in the corners, the dust caking the coffee table, the filth that no longer matters.
I cover my eyes with my arm. “Letting it grow.”
I hear the door close, and lay down my arm.
“Letting what grow?”
I don’t know if he’s playing stupid or his vision hasn’t adjusted to the gloom.
On cue, he says: “Oh… that?” He stands to my side. “What is that, anyway?”
I nod. “An untreated affliction.”
I shrug. “Life, I guess.”
“Was it always that big?”
I look down at the hollow scar encompassing my chest, splitting down my sternum, its warped end reaching my waist. I don’t remember it being this big. Maybe it was smaller before? My mind’s like the fog slipping out from the scar’s scab outline. Hard to grasp. Put my head back to the thin carpet. “Don’t think so, but maybe.”
“Shouldn’t you go see a doctor or something?”
“Oh, well shit.”
“—but I’ve grown to like it.”
Greg hunkers, elbows on knees poking from torn jeans, hands dangling in-between. “Anything I can do?”
“Don’t know,” I say. “If I can’t fix it, don’t think you could either. Think it’s a me thing.”
He scratches his cheek with grimy nails. Wipes them on his wrinkled band t-shirt. “Well then can I touch it?”
“Go for it,” I say. Doesn’t matter, anyway.
Cautiously he reaches and quickly taps it. It ripples through me, shaking innards against the aquarium housed by my bones.
“Damn, that felt weird. Like… touching a puddle of Jell-O.”
“Wanna do it again?” It felt good, in a way. Like scratching an itch you shouldn’t, like tearing the skin around your fingernails, like unclogging a nostril by shooting a snot-rocket.
He grins, revealing yellow teeth. Laughs a little. “Yeah, sure.”
When he does, I snatch his wrist. His eyes widen. “Yo, man, what the hell?”
He struggles to break from my grip but I’ve always been stronger than him. My nails are like talons, digging into his skin, prodding wilted veins. Tears line his eyes, sweat coats his greasy face. “Please, c’mon dude, this isn’t funny.”
I’m not laughing when I pull him in. He fails to pivot his body backwards, grabbing my waist for support. I take it, too, and wrench it forward. Like falling into a pool, he’s half-submerged, within me. He flails his legs and pisses his pants but he can’t be heard that far below. Soon, he’s under; soon, Greg no longer exists.
The scar cracks over my hips, splintering at the crotch and unfurl beneath my jeans. I relax again, resting on the floor. More scavengers will come, it will consume, it will grow larger and larger, and it will accomplish what I’ve been desperate to do for years but have been too chicken-shit to do.
Read the previous prompt, “The Black Cats and the Crescent Flute”
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