By Rebecca Fishow
Are you kidding, of course I hid it from him, I mean, they say that you’re supposed to share everything with spouses—your mensural cramps, body count, passwords—but put yourself in my shoes: what would you do, waking with a fleshy, rippled, lump on your lower back that looks like an ear, but must be a tumor, so you do, you show your man, of course you do, but his gentle touch makes you wince, more in panic than pain, as in his “calm voice” he says it’s probably benign, a harmless fluke, but his face is all terror as he tells you a doctor visit never hurts, so next week, there are more ears now, on your arm, your belly, another near your foot, you bend forward for this old-man doctor who says, “Looks like ears,” and you think, no shit, Sherlock, and the old guy scowls, so maybe you said it out loud, either way he sends you to the ear specialist down the hall, who’s honestly the most lovely doctor, human, you’ve ever met, and he touches your ears gingerly, applies salves, feathers his fingers over every little fold, finds you incredible, suggests weekly check-ins, you unicorn, you gem, and even this you tell your husband, who by now is trying every overwhelming trick to make you feel safe, cooking meals, running baths, so careful not to touch your ears, apologizing, apologizing, when, meanwhile, you can’t wait for your visit to Dr. Ear, who massages, feathers, whispers sweet nothings into each one, who studies and learns, who knows you like no one else ever has, and what do you say to your husband when weekly visits become daily, then secret dinner dates, because you’re covered now, filthy with ears that Dr. Ear nibbles in a way that melts your soul, so tell me, how you say, “Husband, I am finally home.”
Rebecca Fishow is the author of The Trouble With Language (TRSNFR Books), which won the 2019 Holland prize for fiction, as well as the chapbook, The Opposite of Entropy (Proper Tales Press).
Art by Rebecca Fishow.