8×10

by Elizabeth Ellen Read author interview December 15, 2006
story art

In an unfamiliar room you disrobe, removing only bra/no panties, as previously discussed, as heretofore agreed to. An hour ago you sent your husband into the corner 7-11 for diapers and he returned with a porcelain rabbit and pack of chewing gum. His character has recently come into question. His entire act is up for review. You feed his child with a breast he begrudgingly shares while on the other side of the wall he entertains an unsuspecting audience with his one-man show. “I’m going to shoot that kid,” he says, making a gun of his thumb and forefinger and pointing it at the right temple of the man in the mirror. “I used to snort cocaine off a model’s ass. Those days are over,” he continues, arms in the air, pausing for dramatic effect.

In the 8×10 broom closet where they store him he will refuse to open his mouth. No more soliloquies, the doctor will tell you with a smile and a handshake, as though bad theatre were ample enough reason for the removal of a tongue. Left alone with your husband you stare at him through the glass above the door and he stares back at you, his eyes static, his mouth a single straight line: _____. You study him, remembering how it feels to stand before the ocelot at the zoo: like unmitigated self-pity, like you could move the bars with your eyes if only he’d lift a paw to help.

Watch now the baby grow fat. Watch her gorge herself on your milk, forgetting what it means to share. Read to her from her book of A,B,C’s. “O” is for ocelot, you say, remembering that the average life span of an ocelot is 10-13 years in the wild, 20 in captivity.

About the Author:

Elizabeth Ellen is editor of Short Flight/Long Drive books (a division of Hobart publishing). Her chapbook Before You She Was a Pitbull is due out from Future Tense in December. She lives in Ann Arbor.