People with Holes HEATHER FOWLER
found you wearing a hole one day. I didn’t think it sexy, didn’t even know when it appeared. It was right near where your elbow use to be, so I couldn’t imagine how your arm could keep bending. I saw right through it, your hole. I suppose I could have tried to visualize some little gears there to normalize the thing, some kind of spokes and wheel, but instead there was a nothingness. Your abilities as a partner were not impaired. I felt the weight and pull of your arms around me afterward, the strength of how it felt when you drew me close. If you had no elbow, you couldn’t have done that; I was thorough in consideration. I’d checked, in particular, for the feel of the holey arm’s closure. It worked! The thing still worked! I thought I knew everything before that, everything about you, but the hole made me doubt. You were different. I knew it then, said, “So, this hole came from where?” “I don’t know,” you replied. “But you do know,” I insisted. “I don’t,” you said. “Give me a break, Alice.” “Can’t you give it back?” You looked at me like I’d asked you to return a child to an orphanage, said, “It’s my hole, damn it.” You were eating orange chicken with your fingers. I passed you the chopsticks because your fingers looked nasty, said, “Okay, no need to get testy,” but you hated the word “testy.” It reminded you of test and test reminded you of failure and failure reminded you of, well, failure. Not that you and I and failure were strangers. We both knew that imposter very well. “If you had a hole,” you said, “I wouldn’t harass you about it. I would accept it. Mildly accept it, I might add. Were it somewhere erotic, it’s possible I might even use it, kind of, where applicable.” “My whole body is erotic,” I said. “You use my holes all the time.” “I know,” you agreed. “That’s what I meant.” Not long after, we visited the liquor store. No one could see your hole. You had on this faded purple button-up shirt and some Lucky jeans. I wanted to get lucky. I could almost see you as normal, imagined you doing a great unveiling dance for me, showcasing the hole like a sex organ. We watched these two kids in the aisle, stealing candy, both lithe-limbed sixth
(ISSN: 1945-7480) a web & print magazine of magic realism & slipstream.