photo of a hand with a detached finger and a wedding ring nearby

Deconstructed Me by Mark DeMoss

Two days ago, my right little toe fell off. Just like that. I was wearing my old beach sandals at the time, and I felt a tiny pop, like when air rushes into a vacuum.

It didn’t hurt much, except my feelings. It was such deliberate abandonment. I lay awake that night, staring at the ceiling, wondering how I had become so intolerable about a part of my own body. I was almost positive I’d done nothing to deserve that treatment, but I’m the kind who takes everything personally, bruises too easily. Starla was always telling me that.

Yesterday, the rest of my toes followed after the first. When I woke up, I noticed right away that three toes on my left foot were gone. I never gave my toes much thought, and maybe that was the part of the problem, but as soon as I opened my eyes I knew that the three middle toes were gone. I felt them, not like a phantom limb, which lives on in the mind. It was the toes not being there that I felt.

Talk about inconvenient. I thought it was bad when Starla left and took my car. But I could still walk to the bus line. It’s only three miles. If I got there by 6:04, I was hardly late to work at all. Without toes, though, I can’t even walk to the front door. When I tried to stand, I swayed forward then jerked back, like I was falling in a dream.

Luckily, I’ve been sleeping on the sofa since Starla went away. From the living room I could crawl to the kitchen. If I’d done the P90X like Starla kept nagging me to do, it would have been a lot easier to pull myself up by the oven door. I guess a buff upper body wouldn’t have been enough to save me when my right arm decided to go its own way. I felt a stab of regret as it pulled away, slow and stretchy like a strand of taffy.

I hate to complain. It’s my worst trait, I know it. I used to think I was making conversation, telling Starla about my day, what the boss said to me, what I wanted to say to him but I couldn’t because of his hair-trigger temper, and I really needed my job. The last thing she said to me, on her way out the door, was could I shut up the whining, did I have to be such a limp, little pussy all my miserable life.

Today, I lost both legs, the other arm, my torso and my neck. I don’t have much more than the eyes in my head, but I’m trying to be a better man. I’ve managed to roll around to face the door and I’m keeping a positive outlook.

When Starla comes back, I want her to see me smiling.

Mark DeMoss lives somewhere in Texas, and is no relation to the guy you’d find if you were to try to google him. Honest. His flash fiction has appeared in Right Hand Pointing, Bartleby Snopes, Short Fast and Deadly, and elsewhere.

Lead image“Divorce” (via Flickr user Jo Christian Oterhals)