Fiction from Caitlin Barasch
My peers were busy breaking bones in middle school: messy skateboard landing, football tackle, bike crash. (& so: when tumbling down the stairs at twenty-five carrying a basket of dirty laundry, it’s recommended: lean in to the indignity of the metaphor.) The doctor kneads a miniature spine made of plastic & points to the broken place. He says I am young & lucky & will heal soon, but something in me decides this is not enough, or is too much. I had hoped to leave my life for a while. In the life I don’t leave, I use an orthopedic donut pillow at bars & on trains & in my own kitchen while spooning scrambled eggs & watching hour-long (alarmist) YouTube lectures on the Denis classification. In the life I don’t leave, my Uber driver swerves to avoid potholes, shouting “ya don’t got nothing if ya don’t got your health!” & when I arrive at the Boyfriend’s, he kneels in front of my lips & fucks my mouth because anything below my ribcage will hurt. Afterwards, he slides a pair of clean underpants up my thighs & hips. When I try to find a comfortable sleeping position I think of the way my bones stack together, imagine the hairline crack in my sacrum widening & widening until the bone is worn down to dust the Boyfriend will soon sweep away.
Caitlin Barasch is an NYU MFA candidate. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Catapult, Day One, Hobart, Word Riot, Grasslimb, The Knicknackery, Zetetic: A Record of Unusual Inquiry, Jellyfish Review, and ellipsis.