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Anatomy of an Arrow

Natalia Theodoridou is a media & cultural studies scholar, a dramaturg, and a writer of strange stories. Her fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Crossed Genres, Interfictions, and elsewhere. Find out more at natalia-theodoridou.com, or follow @natalia_theodor on Twitter.
"So, uh, I've been meaning to ask. What's that?" He pointed at the fletching that poked out of a hole in her blouse, a few inches from her chest. It almost dipped in her bowl every time she bent to take a spoonful of soup.
She shrugged and looked away. "An arrow."
"An arrow." He mouthed the word slowly, as if trying to wrap his mind around each syllable.
Still avoiding his eyes, she gently touched the end of the arrow that ran through her. She cleared her throat. "An arrow is composed of the nock," she said, tapping lightly at it, "the fletching, the shaft, and, finally," she turned around to show him her back, "the point, or arrow head." She took a drink from her wine glass. "Cheers."
"I see," he said. He brought his pint of beer to his lips and talked over it before taking a sip. "And you just walk around skewered by an arrow like that?"
"Yeah. Just like that."
"Were you born this way?"
She turned and looked at him sharply. "Who's born with an arrow through their chest?" The couple sitting at the table next to theirs gave her a look. She lowered her voice. "I mean, just picture it. How?" She sipped some more wine. "No, of course I wasn't born this way. Someone shot me."
"I'm sorry," he said. He picked up his fork and tossed his salad around a couple of times. "Does it hurt?" he asked after a while.
"Yes."
"Have you tried to take it out?" He was looking at her with his big puppy eyes, his eager chin, his good intentions. Like all the rest of them.
"Listen," she said. She took her glass and downed her wine. "I know how this goes, so let me save you the trouble. You're falling in love with me as we speak. We'll have some fun tonight, maybe fool around in my car a little bit, then go home with a kiss and an 'I'll call you.' Tomorrow you will, in fact, call me and tell me you've never met anyone like me before and would I like to hang out some more. We'll go to the movies. We'll fuck, make sweet love, make plans for the future. And at some point around that time, you'll take it upon yourself to fix me. It will become your sole purpose in life to take this arrow out of my heart, to do what everyone else has failed to do. And you'll fail, too. You will. Because I may have not been born this way, but this is who I am now, and no amount of love or care or heroics can change it. I'm not even sure I want to change. So give up now. We'll finish our meal, you'll take care of the bill, we might even fool around in my car afterwards, and that will be that. Sounds good?"
"Are you done?" he asked, a small, sweet smile on his lips.
"Yeah I'm done," she snapped.
He threw back his head and laughed. An easy laughter--it sounded to her like pebbles rolling downhill. Her cheeks flushed.
"What are you laughing at?"
He stood and took off his jacket. He turned around to show her his back and looked at her over his shoulder. There was a knife poking out of his right shoulder blade, a trickle of blood staining his shirt. He quickly put his jacket back on and sat down to face her again, grinning. His eyes shone. "I've got one, too," he whispered, and something inside her twitched.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, October 8th, 2015


Reader, I married him.

- Natalia Theodoridou

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