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Anxiogenic Vapor
A story I started at work yesterday 
03 08 13
Ever since I was a little girl, I have seen the ghosts of organs and body parts. I don’t know why, or how it started. One day I turned around at the top of the basement stairs, and there behind me was a tiny baby girl’s rib cage floating a few feet away, a pink ribbon tied around her uppermost rib. Once when I took a bath in the old clawfoot tub, there was a sudden burbling from underneath the water, and soon a heart came up, turning all of the bathwater red and pink. Jogging around the path that circles the lake behind the house, I heard a whizzing sound, and looked behind me to find a femur and tibula coming swiftly towards me, and passing by. A little bit later, a foot dragged sadly after them, scuffing on the ground. Once, I threw open the doors of my closet in the middle of the day, only to see a whole head looking dolorously out at me from the depths of my dresses. It had been making a suspicious sound, irritatingly forlorn, against the inside of the door all afternoon. Whose head it was, I had no idea. Lungs have given me guilt trips almost every Sunday of my life, breathing in and out their wet, spongy despondency. Once, I even saw an entire fetus lying curled up in the space beneath the kitchen sink, its skin so translucent I could see through to the veins, arteries, and little organs beneath. I shut the cabinet door very quietly, and left it to its birthless sleep. I had an idea that, like some places that missed or lost objects end up, I was a person that missing bits of other people gravitate towards and orbit. I was a lost-and-found for missing parts of yourself.

But where is the place, who is the person that will house me when I am lost and gone? Ever since I’ve lost my love, I’ve never stopped wondering that. I found my love one day in a dresser drawer. I woke up, went to get a clean pair of underwear from the dresser, and there it was, nestled in cotton panties, in all its sticky, nebulous, and flanged glory. It was about the size of a baby’s fist. I closed the drawer and ran downstairs, and promptly forgot it, till I saw it there again, in the exact same spot, the next day. For some reason or other, it had decided to stay there. With the exception of my love, none of my anatomical apparitions have ever stayed for longer than a few hours at most.

I got the idea to feed it when I was eating a bowl of cereal one day. I had taken the thing out of its drawer, wrapped it in a hand towel, and transferred it to the drawer in my desk so I could watch it more closely. The drawer was pulled open, the little thing pinkly and demurely lying inside, when I almost knocked over the bowl, catching it with my hand, but a few drops of milk fell on the poor thing, which wicked the liquid right up. The next day I saw that it was noticeably larger, clearly now the size of a kindergartener’s clenched fist. From then on I fed it whole milk, sugar water, and tea with honey. It got bigger and bigger. I had to hide it in the back of my closet. I had to give it baths in the bathtub, rolling it back and forth between the bedroom and the bathroom. When I was nine, it was the size of a plump two-year-old. When I went off to my first day of middle school, it was a year old and the size of me at five. At the same time it was changing shape, becoming less spherical and more amorphous, growing in all directions, and I thought that sometimes it was trying to talk to me, too. Like it urged and yearned to say its first word. Little cilia at the top of its mottled surface seemed to strain towards me as I leaned forward to feed it, whispering things that I couldn’t understand.

One day I when came back from school, there was a boy standing in the middle of my room I had never seen before. He wasn't wearing any clothes, so I gave him my largest, loosest clothes. His skin had a raw, pink, exposed quality exactly like a newborn’s. I fed him sugared tea, buttered bread, chamomile leaves, and lavender petals. The only indication of what he had once been was a small cluster of cilia that extended from the upper tip of his spine and always poked out from the back of his T-shirt. I have never seen a boy so beautiful as he was. It wasn’t just that he was physically beautiful, but more that he was exactly what he was on the inside. He was made of the same substance throughout. There was no distinction between inside and outside with him. He never spoke. I don’t think he could, or ever had any desire to. At night we lay like two little spines arched next to each other on the bed. Sometimes I woke up in the middle of the night to find him standing in the middle of the room, faintly glowing. This odd luminescence played over his fingers like a miniature milky way, or a tiny local river, flowing gently, and he moved his hands, staring in concentration and absorption at the opal light that viscously shimmered along his body.
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