Egon handed him a scalpel. It had a slender grip, a sharp blade that slid upward. He thought about people in horror films, fates at the hands of a monster. How many lives could be saved with this scalpel? How many girl-eating goblins gutted, dragon-toothed piranhas slashed, brain-starved zombies decapitated? He wondered. Carve out your collarbones, Egon told him. He drew one smooth arch in the air. Like this, Egon said. But he knew it would take more than one cut. That night, facing the mirror, he took off his shirt. He placed the scalpel on his shoulders and slanted it inward, away from his neck. He moved the blade in then out, ending a breath away from his sternum. The severed skin looked nearly egg-like, lower flaps bloated with yolk. Red dots stained skin like seeds from a gashed pomegranate, little cracked milk teeth. He faced his reflection, jutting his torso open. He could see the cabinet from the mirror, the bottom of a spinning music box. The tiles started to sog under him. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other. From his window he could see the cutting board on the table with slabs of a fish carcass dangling from rope. The belly had shrunk to half its size, molding the fat and sangria flavour. So much to lose, he marveled. He slit up the other collarbone, his hand more practiced, the cuts smoother. He looked through the hollow of his collarbones again. This time, through the hollow, he could see the entire music box. It sputtered out a small note. He withdrew the scalpel and slipped it back inside the cabinet. The hollow seemed to be getting bigger as blood trickled out. How much blood can the body lose before it fails? He wanted to ask Egon. But Egon had left already, as he always did. He arched his head downwards and fitted his index finger between his collarbones. Neither his finger nor his knuckles touched the wounds; the hollow was not even as wide as the scalpel blade. But he felt like he could be chewed into the opening, spit back out, find himself no different from when he started. He faced his reflection again. From the depths of the mirror, he could only see the hollow in place of a human, the mouth shaped like a black hole.
Christina Pan's short stories and poems appear or are forthcoming in Vagabond City Lit, Eunoia Review, and Interstellar Literary Review. She lives in NYC.
The Ekphrastic Review
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