Poetry and Prose from the Center for Writers
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His Wife’s Feet
by ALEX MORRIS
Bloodied scraps of toilet paper like rose petals lay crumpled in the sink. He blotted at the gash at his hairline with a clean wad from the roll sitting on the dusty toilet tank. They didn’t have a proper first-aid kit. There was gauze somewhere, but he didn’t want to ask his wife where it was. She had just hit him in the head with a piece of marble and he was still trying to figure out how to feel about that, beyond dizzy. The wound looked deep, but he couldn’t tell. He took his hand away, fingers stained, and the paper still stuck in place. He hoped that if he left it alone it would clot.
Watching the toilet paper wilt against his head, he tried to rewind things in his mind. He wondered if he might have a concussion. They were in the middle of moving, going through books hairy with dust and he found the sculpture under the bookshelf, behind a tangled wall of dirty hair, a cultured marble impression of her feet that she’d done her first year of art school. It was glossy white with faint dark veins and jagged along one edge to make it look like a broken scrap. One side was smooth and flat, and on the other there was an impression of her feet, slender and straight, no bigger than his hands, the toes perfect ovals pressed into the stone. She chucked it in the black garbage bag, then touched her finger to the cracked spine of a German textbook and asked him if he needed it anymore. He picked her feet back out of the bag without answering and wedged it into a box of books. Then they had fought.
He had always believed they weren’t the kind of couple that fought. He imagined himself standing out in the dark, waiting for a taxi, her at the window as the taillights disappeared around the corner.
He gathered up the scraps and dropped them into the toilet, watching as the blood sunk into the blue water in long, smoky strands. He wiped the remainder of the mess off the counter with his hands and then rinsed off.
A fist-sized ball of toilet paper held to his forehead, he stepped out into the kitchen. His wife was standing there, her head down so he could see the blonde roots of her burgundy hair. He looked down too. She was barefoot. Bunions, red, rubbed shiny and smooth stuck out on one side, the bone straining against taut skin thick like scar-tissue. Her little toes were crooked and bent inward. A big drop of blood fell onto the square of white linoleum between them and she flinched.
“I think it’s going to need stitches,” he said. She already had her keys in her hand.
Alex is a third year PhD student in fiction at Southern Miss. His work has previously appeared in the Akros Review, now the Rubber Top Review. When not busy being a graduate student, Alex likes to think about the things he’ll have time to do when he’s not a graduate student anymore.