What Remains by Michael Snyder

photo of a yellow #2 pencil

“#2 Pencils” (image via Flickr user Carol VanHook)

When Sally McReedy broke up with me, she used a slingshot. It took a team of surgeons three hours to exhume the ring.

“Does it hurt?” Sally wants to know. She’s sitting in a plastic chair opposite my mechanical bed, grinding molars, twirling a #2 pencil around her thumb.

I try to nod, but the vertigo returns.

“Good,” says Sally. “And I’m truly sorry.”

Sally is not the most coordinated girl I’ve loved, nor the least prone to impulse. The void where my left eye used to be itches like mad.

“You know,” I say. “You never did answer my question.”

Sally pretends not to have heard, by far her best skill. “No joke, Patrick. I mean, what I really, really wanted was to kill you.” She mimes a stabbing gesture with the pencil. “But I certainly didn’t mean to hurt you. And especially not…you know, like, maim you.”

This, of course, makes perfect sense to Sally. And by some osmotic miracle, to me too.

“I still have the ring,” I say, producing it from under my papery gown with all the Ta Da! flourish I can muster. The exertion makes me seasick. “Even cleaned all the eyeball detritus from the diamond.”

“What a cool word, detritus.”

“Sally?”

“That really is a nice ring.”

“I’ll kneel if you think it will help. But I might puke on your shoes.”

Sally’s gaze lingers on the gleaming diamond, then locks onto my one good eye. Her grip on the pencil causes the veins in her arm to balloon. My eye crater begins to throb in time with my hastening pulse.

Sally stops grinding her teeth and says, “We’ll see.”

Michael Snyder prefers to write fiction and feels privileged to have published three novels with Harper Collins as well as stories in Relief, The Burnside Collective, and Infuze.

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