SHE is not blind but getting there. She knows this. She knows it by the way people touch her like a banged-up porcelain doll. She knows it because she will be a teenager soon. She knows it so bad that she’s given up looking.
HE is fucking his palm, thinking of Judy Garland. He is wondering what makes a bad man so bad. He is wondering what makes old, old. He is wondering how he became both so fast, like this, without even noticing.
She is blindfolded every morning. Upon waking, the Instructors knot thick bandages over the children’s faces, asking them to bow their shoes, tie their ties, listen for space. In class the children clench ribbons and strut circles around Instructor 12, wrapping her like a maypole mummy. This is time, This is direction, This is a cycle. If one subject trips the rest are told to step over the little body. You should feel it before you fall.
Bodies, the ones he knew before he got here: Katherine Hepburn’s legs, Audrey Hepburn’s back, Natalie Wood’s torso, Jackie O’s hands, Greta Garbo’s eyebrows, Billie Holiday’s hair, Marilyn Monroe’s bust, Vivienne Leigh’s scowl, Bette Davis’ eyes, Doris Day’s cheeks, Rita Hayworth’s lips, Liz Taylor’s lashes. Yes, that stare, he thinks, I remember that best.
There is a secret on the left side of her bed. She once asked an Instructor: What do you call something you want for yourself? She usually kept it covered with a picture of the president. But at night, it’s all hers, the small numbers carved into the wooden frame. She traces it with her fingers, licks the dust inside the lines. She wonders who did it, what tool, if it was a secret for them too.
The bars of a cell are nothing like the movies. Before movies stopped, he had seen them all. The bars in here go on forever. He thinks about this when he counts them, at lights-out, sitting in the dead dark. With every year he swears there are more. He swears he could measure his life by them, like tree rings, like teeth.
The previous issue of Hyphen is available in its entirety for your perusing pleasure. Almost as good as having it right in your hands!