When I woke up from surgery, groggy, head rolling, I had a Barbie arm. It had a round plastic shoulder in a smooth socket and a bright shiny plastic finish. The arm was bent at a 45 degree angle and came with a hole to hold a microphone or a cooking spoon or a wine glass.

I thought you were putting pins in my elbow I said to the doctor when he came to check on me.

We were, but your insurance only pays for 22 minutes of surgery and pins take about 38 so when we realized were weren’t going to make it we switched to Plan B he said. These are actually better in a lot of ways, since you wouldn’t get full range of motion anyway. He thumped my plastic, shiny bicep. These are durable as hell. Patients end up loving them.

My Barbie arm laid there at a funny angle. All the fingers were fused together and the tips of the nails were painted. When I tried to scratch my nose I could not.

I stayed there for a week but the doctor didn’t visit again and would not return my phone calls so I finally followed him to his car one evening. This isn’t working I said, my arm sticking out in an imposing manner. I need my old arm back.

Your old arm was already recycled, he said. They come on Tuesdays so if you could have told me sooner I could have salvaged it. Perhaps if you met the right partner it would make you feel better?

I’m already married.

Well that won’t last long, he said. Especially if that is your pleasure hand, if you know what I mean. He popped a lollipop in his mouth. I’m sure you do, he added. I’m sure you are very entertaining.

Nancy Stohlman

Nancy Stohlman

​Nancy Stohlman's books include the flash fiction collection The Vixen Scream and Other Bible Stories (2014), The Monster Opera (2013), Searching for Suzi: a flash novel (2009), Live From Palestine (2003), and three anthologies of flash fiction including Fast Forward: The Mix Tape (2010), which was a finalist for a 2011 Colorado Book Award. She is the creator and curator of The F-Bomb Flash Fiction Reading Series in Denver, the creator of FlashNano in November, and her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and is forthcoming in the Norton anthology New Microfictions.
Nancy Stohlman

Latest posts by Nancy Stohlman (see all)