art by Seth Alan Bareiss
Pieces of My Body
by Caroline M. Yoachim
I gave my left arm to Elizabeth. You've never met her, but she was my dearest childhood friend. After my disembodiment party she went home to London and put it on her end table, hand side down, with a lampshade made of green velvet and children's nightmares. The nightmares gnawed at the nerve endings on my shoulder, or maybe the unpleasant sensation was my longing for Elizabeth. Or perhaps the scab was itchy. The arm was the first part of me to be removed so it was hard to be sure what each sensation meant.
My long-ago first boyfriend Michael was surprisingly squeamish, so I gave him my hair, thinking that it would be bloodless and therefore more appealing. He stuffed it in a plastic bag and took it home to Houston, but then he threw it away. Inside the plastic bag, the hair will never weave itself into the dirt and sing lullabies to earthworms. It will never tangle in a shower drain and capture off-key songs. You know how fond I was of my hair, so you will appreciate how angry I was to see it wasted. Let us never speak of Michael again.
Tim and Jim and Annabel and Nora--did you meet them when we were in college?--have become so close as to be practically a single entity, and they each got a finger from my right hand. They are in San Francisco, which is where I would live if location was an attribute that I could still possess. Tim uses his finger to thumb wrestle with Nora, even though technically it isn't thumb wrestling because he has an index finger. My fingers are happy that they get to be together, although they miss the middle finger, which I mailed to Michael, of whom we are not speaking because he isn't worth the words.
My co-worker Courtney got my right leg, because I couldn't think of anything better and she left my disembodiment party in something of a hurry. She was like that, always dashing off, so maybe an extra leg wasn't such a bad gift after all. Courtney put the leg in a freezer in her Montana basement, nestled in among the ducks and deer she and her husband killed on hunting trips. Ice crystals transform my skin into a delicate lace, which the deer might lick like salt if they could control their frozen tongues.
Lee asked for my heart, which I was saving for you, until I thought of something better. When I gave it to him, he sprinkled it with salt and ate it, raw and bleeding. Then he went back to Germany. It was an interesting experience, being digested on a transatlantic flight. Don't look at me like that, Lee is from when we were separated--it is your own fault for kicking me out.