Holly was at home watching a triple-bill-all-night-retro-horror-film-fest when her jaw dropped. It landed on her lap, like a baby bird.

It was plump and hot, and there was white bone and sharp gristle bleeding out one side. Holly pushed her sweater over it, quick, so Ron wouldn’t see it and get angry.

Her ears had been the first thing to go. They had dropped last Thursday, while she was doing her Tax return. She had wrapped them in foil and put them in the freezer. They were in there right now, frosting hard next to the Cookie Dough ice cream.

She’d curled her hair forwards, set with a hot iron over the holes in her head.

Ron had not said anything when he got home that first night, or maybe he had and she hadn’t heard through all the bleeding.

He hadn’t said anything the next morning, or the next.

He hadn’t said anything when her right hand fell off in bed last night while they were making love.

But now her jaw had fallen off.

Ron was watching The Monster in the Black Lagoon.

A lady made scream shapes, and sunk under the water. Bubbles bubbled and the water turned black with blood.

Holly felt the jaw in her lap. Heat soaking through her dress, between her thighs.

She felt a trickle and a loosening underneath her clavicle. Her ribs, popping. Her heart dropping.

The Monster in the television pulled the white bikini Woman down, under his Lagoon. Weeds corkscrewed her neck. Her eyes bulged. The water swallowed her down.

Up above, high on land, screams scuttled around Holly. She sat on the edge, and held onto herself tight. The wind howled through her.

Out on the other side of pain, was Ron. He was watching the movie, and holding her hand. The dead one, from the freezer. The fingers had been dipped in 80% dark chocolate, and sugared with pink sprinkles.

Holly watched Ron crack her knuckles. Peel the tendons, elastic, rip them from bone.

He had a small lump-hammer, which he used to crush her fingers, thick metacarpals, fine phalanges.

Ron licked his fingertips with phlegm, dipped them in her bone dust like sherbet, and sucked.

Holly’s breasts fell off next.

They slithered out under her dress. They spun around on the wooden floor in slipstreams of blood.

One was large. One was small. They had never been her pride, or her joy. But now, on the ground, they were all washed up. Sea sponges, barnacled, pumping brine. All wrong, sagging in rock pools of dirt, bone shard, and slime.

Ron had wanted Holly to breastfeed.

Now that would not happen.

Holly kicked her breasts under the sofa, before he saw them. She could get them back later, when he went to bed. Freeze them, with the rest of her.

Bottle-fed babies have memory problems, he had read, he had said. They develop slower, and have cognitive impairment. They fail to bond with their parents. They won’t latch, they cling, they won’t swallow. Don’t you know formula feeding causes Autism? It has not been disproven.

Ron would be pissed.

He only wanted the best. Like her. Perfection.

Holly knew that some parts of her would have to get lost. Ebb, tide. For the baby. Just as they had, for Ron.

But you can’t freeze it all. Preserve it.

Like her brain. It was dripping out, right now, trickling from her ear holes.

Holly grabbed a vase, threw the daffodils on the floor, and tilted her head to catch the clumps. Splashes and spurts. Whole clots of degrees, a thick sticky gob of PhD.

Aphra Behn, The Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare’s sister, RIP. Currer Bell, George Eliot, A Room of One’s Own. Why be happy when you could be normal? The summer she memorized Beowulf; gargling vowels, juggling dragons, peace-weavers, goaders; swearing over diphthongs.

The brain vase was full now, dripping red on the floor.

Ron stared at the television. White bikini Woman was trapped under rocks, half dead in his lair. The Monster hunched over her, clawing in the shadows, till she blacked out into him.

Elisabeth Ingram Wallace

Elisabeth Ingram Wallace

Elisabeth Ingram Wallace lives in Glasgow, and has a 2017 Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award for Fiction. She is a Bath Flash Fiction Award Prize winner, and her work can be found in the 2016 and 2017 prize anthologies. After a decade working in prop making, production design and art direction, she is about to write and direct her first short film.
Elisabeth Ingram Wallace

Latest posts by Elisabeth Ingram Wallace (see all)