Fiction from Caitlin Barasch

Photo: Shannon McInnes

First Fracture

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.
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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.

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