Last night she cut off her husband’s penis while he was sleeping. She hid it in an old jewelry box in the back of the garage. Without it, she thinks, he will stop treating her as if she were just a hole.
Where did my penis go? he says when he wakes up.
He pulls back the sheets, picks up his pillow. He gets down on his knees to look under the bed.
I don’t know, she says. Where did you have it last?
He is always misplacing things. One time she found his car keys in the refrigerator.
He looks around the room, makes sure the dog doesn’t have it, and then showers and leaves for work.
Keep your eyes open for it, he says before walking out the door.
She spends the day wondering about all the things that might happen now that he doesn’t have a penis. They can go for walks on the beach holding hands. They can read to each other. They can talk. She finds it easier to imagine these things when he isn’t around.
What she wants, more than anything, is for him to remember when there was a whole of her and not just a hole.
Did you find it? he says when he arrives home that evening.
No, she lies. I looked everywhere.
Hummph, he grunts, then silently eats the dinner she prepared. When he’s full he takes out his computer to spend the rest of the evening with his face bending to the images on the screen. She watches him for a moment, his brow furrowed in concentration, then goes to read a book in another room.
She spends a lot of time alone, especially when he’s home.
When they go to bed he asks how is he going to fill the hole without his penis? Maybe you can just hold me, she suggests.
No, I can figure this out, he says, and uses his fingers to fill the hole.
Then he rolls over and goes to sleep.
She cuts off his fingers and hides them with the penis.
The next morning he holds up his hands and screams, what happened to my fingers?
I don’t know where they went, she says, they were here last night. Do you want me to check the refrigerator?
I’m going to be in meetings all day today, he says, so I can get by without them but look for them while I am gone. They have to be here somewhere.
She doesn’t need to look for them, she reminds herself. She just needs to be patient. Tonight he will have to see her, all of her.
She is wrong. After dinner he turns on the television to watch a basketball game and spends the night yelling and cursing at players about the mistakes he never would have made if he were on the court.
When he comes to their bed she is waiting. She is ready to talk to him about her loneliness, how she wants to be seen as whole again and not just a hole. She opens her mouth to speak. He sticks in his tongue and silences her.
Then he rolls over and goes to sleep.
The tongue goes the way of the fingers and the penis.
She sits and stares at him in the shadows. She is never going to find her whole in this house with him, she realizes. She makes a decision, stands and goes out to the garage to her hiding place and wraps the penis, the fingers and the tongue in a scarf. She puts them in her purse. She doesn’t want him to find them and make a hole of someone else.
She pauses at the front door in darkness. She knows that while she is afraid of what is on the other side of the door she is slowly dying on this side. Holding her breath she opens the door and sees that the moon is full and softly lights the stairs leading away from the house. She begins to breathe again and takes a tentative step out, then another until she is running away as fast as she can. A wind catches her and she is swept up into the wide-open night sky.
She spreads her arms like wings. The purse slides off her shoulder. When it hits the ground, its contents scatter.
She doesn’t care, there’s no putting those pieces back together.
She practices flying, dipping one arm, then the other, figuring out how to navigate space where she is the only one. A couple of times she makes too sharp a turn and free-falls toward the ground but pulls herself out of it each time. She can do this, she thinks, she can find her way back to when she was whole.
As she gets the hang of this flying thing, she thinks about where to go next. She sees the sun beginning to push back the blanket of the night when suddenly she hears voices, laughing and singing, and her heart pushes against her chest, wanting to lead the way.
She flies.Cheryl Jacobs lives in the Los Angeles area and is a writer and artist. Her poetry has appeared in Tiferet. For the last eight years, she and Samantha Dunn have offered “The Writer’s Workshop” in memoir.