Editor’s note: “Cut” won first place in the Show Us Your Short-Shorts Editors’ Prize
Every time I close my eyes, I hear it again. What haunts me isn’t the chainsaw shriek of the slicer; it’s how quick it all was. The instant between when I was whole, and when I wasn’t.
The impact registered, but not the pain. My brain popped into the fluorescent lights, joining an audience of moths. Below us, the hurt girl covered her wound with her unmutilated fist. She would not look at her fingertip, floating free like a bubble on an oil slick.
Her supervisor approached, eyeing the meat slicer and the girl’s grip, red insisting between each finger. A resigned sigh. “Come on.”
By the time I drifted back, we were waiting in Urgent Care. At least half a roll’s worth of bright, soggy paper towels blocked view of my remaining appendages. I tried to remember that Sylvia Plath poem, the one about cutting an onion.
Somewhere in the fog, Ivan cleared his throat. He traced a ghostly worm of skin down his knuckle. “Ask Pablo to show you his. We’ve all done something. That machine’s a beast.”
Is that supposed to make me feel better? I grasped for an appropriate response and found nothing livelier than “Thanks for bringing me.”
He shrugged, turned back to Candy Crush. He hadn’t removed his hairnet. “I’m still getting paid.”
Deb Jannerson is the author of the acclaimed poetry collection, Rabbit Rabbit (Finishing Line Press, 2016), available wherever books are sold. Her second book of poetry, Thanks for Nothing, is forthcoming from Finishing Line in 2018. Jannerson won the 2017 So to Speak Nonfiction Award for “Scarring,” a short memoir about queer intimacy and PTSD. She has also been awarded Honorable Mention for the Gival Press Oscar Wilde Award, received second place in the Pen2Paper Writing Competition, and been shortlisted for the William Faulkner – Wisdom. More than one hundred of her stories and articles have been featured in anthologies and magazines. Deb is currently searching for a home for her middle grade fantasy novel. She lives in New Orleans with her wife and pets. Learn more at debjannerson.com.