What I Did After His Funeral

Embryologists study flatfish because a hormone causes a metamorphosis where one eye slips to the opposite side of the head. The eye-less side grazes along the ocean floor. Both eyes are on the top of its head.

What I did after the funeral, after I looked in the casket and verified he was really dead, the rifle blast out the back of his head invisible behind the smooth and powdered face, after I laid a book next to him, after I walked as erect as I could past the row where his mother and father sat swooning and his brother sat biting his nails, and his friends sat watching me from down turned eyes, was go to the clinic. And when I came awake in the recovery room, the girl next to me was crying. I leaned over to pat her arm and noticed my own chart lying on the chair between us. It’s okay, honey, you’re okay, I said, and my eyes scanned for a number—was it eight? Eleven? Equivocal? No, it was an unambiguous number, but no matter how you cut it, no one won. This was before a certain class of women left off charting their temperatures and took up testing their urine to predict when they would ovulate. Today, that class of women know when they are pregnant as early as, hell, well, they can implant the fertilized embryo, so that even if it doesn’t implant, the woman can say she was pregnant at least for a little while. Despite what had happened and what I had done, I stayed pregnant with life, my own, the metamorphosis taking all these years to shift one of my eyes sideways, so there are two on this side of my head, and then one ear slips to the opposite, so I can lie down, listening with both ears to what has passed while looking up to see what the future still holds.

Laura McCullough | Mudlark No. 32
Contents | Why I Am Thinking Today of a Suicide Twenty Years Ago