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Hardly Worth The Effort
Little Men
When Will The Sun Stop Shining
Monday Morning

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poems & stories

Static Evolution

Hardly Worth the Effort
By Phlip Arima

After I take off my skin and hang it in the closet, I look at the ones I haven't worn in a while. The shiny one looks like it might be getting baggy from too much activity. Not so baggy as to give you nightmares or make you want to throw up, but enough that you can tell it's been part of a crowd, down a few flights of stairs instead of escalators. I could easily wear it to a job interview or on a first date. I could probably even wear it to my mother's the next time she invites me over for dinner. But just to be sure, I pull it from the hanger and give it a thorough going over. I don't find any stretch marks or tears, no significant wrinkles or calluses. Just a slight puffiness where my knees and elbows and the back of my neck have forced it to bend. It's a fine and sensual, good looking skin. Some might even say a sexy skin. A skin just perfect for an intimate fling.

Still, I fold it down the middle, tuck the arms out of sight and fold it in half again. I press it flat with the hard edge of my hand, make it as thin as a frozen pizza. The hairy head seems swollen compared to the narrow neck. Touching it makes my fingers quiver. Part of one eyehole is visible. It seems to be smiling at me, smirking like a lover who has recently talked to someone I used to date. I close my eyes and press my fingers into my temples. I take three deep breaths through my mouth. I straighten my back, pull my shoulder blades together, open my eyes and start rolling the skin like a sleeping bag. I roll it as tight as I can, squeeze out all the air and moisture until it's no bigger than the cardboard tube at the centre of a roll of toilet paper.

I give it a tentative sniff. It doesn't smell as old as I'd expected. I'm about to tie its toes together and let it age for a few more days, when a commercial for a new fibre-based cereal comes on the television. That's all it takes. Determined not to waste another moment, I shove the entire thing into my mouth. It's bland and pasty and hardly worth the effort. It almost triggers my gag reflex, but I manage not to choke. I chew it like I'm trying to get rid of evidence. I chew it until it's a soft, lumpy mass I can push all around my mouth with the tip of my tongue. I chew and chew, then swallow twice and suppress an urge to burp.

Little Men
By Phlip Arima

As soon as I reach back and unlatch the door behind my ear, the little men come out with their tools and knowledge and grim determination. Normally, I would ignore them, go about my business, pretend I'm not as dependent on them as I am. But today, I decide I'm going to watch them. I sit in front of a large mirror and stay as still as a hunted reptile.

The little men slid down my neck and stomp around for several minutes looking for the right spot and finally decide to saw a hole in the soft flesh between my collar bone and the thick muscle running across the top of my shoulder. They set up a tripod over the hole and attach a long rope to it. They draw lots and the loser puts on a harness and is lowered into the hole.

I can feel his progress down into my chest. This goes on for quite a while. Sweat soaks my face and sharp jabs tense my spine. I think he intentionally kicks my ribs several times and I'm positive he punches my lung for no necessary reason. But eventually, the little men on my shoulder hold the rope steady and the real work begins. The ache in my heart burns and screams. Tears leap to the corners of my eyes and my toes curl into tight knots. There is an excruciating sensation of permanent rupture immediately followed by a forlorn longing.

The little men haul their companion up out of my chest. Bloody and bruised, he grins triumphantly as he holds a long slender shard of glass up for everyone to see. And, as they cheer, he winds up and throws it as far as he can from my body.

When Will The Sun Stop Shining
By Phlip Arima

He sold some blood two days ago. It was the same day he found a finger sitting beside him on the pavement when the sun woke him by shining through his eyelids. The finger was not attached to a hand despite the fact that he thought it was when he first caught sight of it. In his hungover, half-slumbering, chemically and environmentally challenged brain, he thought the hand of some down-and-out lowlife was attempting to roll him for whatever coins he might have in his soiled pockets. He, of course, assumed the hand was attached to the lowlife and swung his fist around the corner of his doorway hoping to connect with the lowlife's head.

When his fist smashed into the building's brick face, he cursed and came fully awake. He was sure he'd broken a knuckle. It had been a while, but the memory of certain injuries tended to stay firm in his mind. Ironically, the broken knuckle was on the same finger as the finger lying next to him on the pavement. Too bad he couldn't replace one for the other. Also too bad he couldn't sell fingers the way he could blood. Or, maybe not, since he did, for the most part, enjoy punching things.

Monday Morning
By Phlip Arima

I wait until I'm in the elevator before taking my eyes out of their sockets. Two neighbours, a man and a woman I don't know, stand silently on either side of me. When the distinctive slurping pop of the first eye leaving my skull fills the small space, the man grimaces and quickly swallows. The woman grins, so I toss the eye back and forth between my hands a few times to see if she will say anything. She doesn't, but just as I'm shoving the eye into my pocket, the elevator door opens and a young couple squeeze between us. They stiffen as I pulled the second eye free. I don't know if they grin or grimace. The man, again, quickly swallows. I can't see what the woman is doing.

When the doors open on the ground floor, I put on a pair of dark glasses identical to the ones the others are wearing.

Each moment held like a syringe above a vein.
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