Imperfecta – Prose by Amy Barnes


I knew what I was doing when I swallowed the glass piano.
      It’s still a heavy burden. I read books and watch PBS documentaries on Victorian women who also carried glass pianos.
      “You read too much,” Jared tells me.
      “Glass delusions are what they’re called.” I tell him.
      “I know, Audrey,” he says.
      I find something romantic about privileged women who swallowed glass pianos, like mine. The ennui they suffered sounds better than my depression, more fainting couch than therapist’s couch.
      Jared packs his trumpet to leave for practice. We both know he’s going to sit in the corner coffee shop away from PBS and glass instruments. I’m going to stay home and protect this thing that squashes my guts, huddles against my ribs, perches on my now-empty uterus.
      I used to play a real, glossy black piano, wearing a black empire-waist dress. Jared’s trumpet sang love notes across woodwinds and low brass. We played together, applause and encore, encore, bravo, bravo echoing until my fingers saddened.
      The glass piano I ate will shatter someday. It’s my fault. I’m not as careful as I should be with my precious cargo. I’ve bumped into our mid-century modern tables. The legs that broke off in the spring clank against loose keys and loose intestines, a discord of minor notes and sharps.
      Over Jared’s spare room snores, I practice octaves on my ribs. Running my fingers against piano keys under my skin keeps me awake.
      “Do you want to feel it?”
      I ask Jared in the morning.
      “Look at the leg poking out. Feel it.”
      He runs his finger along the hard outlines. It’s a familiar path, a hopeful journey across my mid-section map.
      “I will protect her,” I say.
      He sits down to play a lullaby on the grand piano that used to be mine.

Amy Barnes @amygcb has words at a variety of sites including The New Southern Fugitives, FlashBack Fiction, Popshot Quarterly, Flash Fiction Magazine, X-Ray Lit, Anti-Heroin Chic, Museum of Americana, Penny Fiction, Stymie Mag, Re-side, The Molotov Cocktail, Lucent Dreaming, Lunate Fiction, Rejection Lit, Perhappened, Cabinet of Heed, Spartan Lit, National Flash Flood Day and others. Her work has been long-listed at Reflex Press, Bath Flash Fiction, Retreat West and TSS Publishing. She volunteers at Fractured Lit, CRAFT, Taco Bell Quarterly, Retreat West, NFFD and Narratively. Her flash “magpie” collection will be published in May, 2021 by ELJ Editions, Ltd.  

Banner Image: A Drawing by Cathy Daley. Tweets @CathyDaley1

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