Foreign Body KATE FINEGAN
NONFICTION CONTEST WINNER
I will trust my memory in this—how my foot (eight or nine years old, calloused from a barefoot summer) accommodated the thin, silver nail; how the skin encircling the small post, rimmed in pink, stretched around it like a mouth, puckered, as I pulled the metal from my flesh. Summer. So I spent my days reading or running free on the farm where my mother was raised, where her mother raised her—my grandma who, days before her death, when she couldn’t get a breath of air, asked that an ambulance be called, specified that the sirens remain silent, the flashing lights dark, dead. She wouldn’t want to make a fuss, not at night, not in town. When my mom nudged me awake on July Fourth, the summer of my fifteenth year, to tell me my dog had died, I thanked her for telling me and pulled the covers to my chin. A friend was on my floor, sleeping over. When we awoke, we watched TV, stayed in my room. I opened the door, went to the bathroom, watched from the window as my mom and dad lowered Lucky’s body into the ground. I wanted to run out and pet his ears one more time, but I didn’t. When it rained, I thought of his wet body. That’s when I told my friend, and only then, and only because I didn’t want her to find out at the breakfast table, in the company of others. When a bat swooped near my sleeping face, twenty-two years old, I awoke to see it dancing with the fan blades. I didn’t shriek. I swallowed, nudged my partner awake. I climbed out of bed, emptied a box (it was our first night in the place), and waited for the bat 55
Fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and art selected for phoebe's Spring 2018 issue.