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Beaudin

anyone on the flight. It was late boarding, late taking off, and Ella killed time at an airport Chili's with a margarita on the rocks. The salt stuck to her chapped lips. On the plane, she had a row to herself. They sat on the tarmac as the wings were de-iced; a voice over the intercom warned the passengers that the cabin might smell strange for a moment, the fumes from the de-icing agent pumped momentarily, accidentally, into the air circulation system. The woman across the aisle from Ella was wearing a fami liar pair of boots: knee-high, low wooden heel, brown leather wrinkled loose around the ankles. Ella twisted towards the aisle and spoke over the low hum of engines, the shhhh of chemical spray. Excuse me, what kind of boots are those? The woman looked up from her book. Frye she said. Ella smiled. That's what I thought. They look exactly like a pair I have. The woman shook her head: these are really old. They were my mom's, from her hippie days. That's so strange, Ella said. Mine are from my mother too. Seventies hand-me-downs. The woman turned back to her book, but it was enough. It was enough to float Ella through the flight home. Outside the plane the wings ran wet, no ice. Snow fell flat over the airport arteries and was plowed away. The plane followed the light-hemmed path through the fat wet flakes towards takeoff. When they rose above the clouds, there was no more snow. Ella imagined the woman across from her, the woman wearing her boots, as a doppelganger. In the dim plane across the aisle, a reflection of herself. A version whose heart was not broken. A different way for the week to have gone. SHE IS EATING WHEN THE MOUNTAIN in her mouth finally rock slides apart. She feels it break loose. She stops chewing, spits into a napkin. In the spare bare light of the kitchen she picks the bloody bit of bone from the mess she is holding. She wavers, sees her washed-out face in the windowpane. She places the white threaded red piece down on the counter, fills a glass of water and shakes salt onto the surface. It gathers and sinks. She stirs it with a spoon, then gargles the lukewarm salt water. She spits into the sink, watches the red strands pool towards the drain. She rinses her mouth over and over and over, afraid of the bleeding, afraid of infection, afraid she is falling apart. Finally the water she spits runs clear. She turns back to the piece on the counter. It's not a part of her tooth. Of this Ella is sure. It's not the right shape. She takes it into the other room, where the light is better. She has a sudden urge to document. She takes a series of photographs. My jawbone on the table, she thinks. An art project, she thinks. Pictures of my insides, a fragment of skull. A piece of my head. The private bits of me pulled out, focused, magnified. When she uploads the images to her computer screen the fragment is larger than life. It is larger even than it felt in her mouth. It must be half her jawbone, she thinks. How could she not have noticed? She reaches 48

FUGUE#3I

Profile for University of Idaho Library

Fugue 31 - Summer/Fall 2006 (No. 31)  

The Literary Digest of the University of Idaho

Fugue 31 - Summer/Fall 2006 (No. 31)  

The Literary Digest of the University of Idaho