by Sutton Strother

The liver wasn’t Plan A. She tried prayer, fasting, TED Talks, psychic hotlines, tarot, I Ching, even tyromancy (the wheels of cheese in her fridge have started to mold). She considered the palm reader downtown, neon hand glowing in the window above the pawn shop, but she hasn’t left the apartment in eleven days, and anyway she’s done looking outside herself. She is all she needs. It only requires focus. If she can fuzz out the heat of the blood pooling between her thighs and the animal stink of her insides and the burning AHHHHH of the incision she made beneath her breasts (she really had to dig around in there and this, she thinks, is probably why the Romans augured with bits of sheep instead of themselves), something will start making sense. So she homes in on the liver in her hands, startles at its weight. She’s left a piece of it behind, one big enough (she hopes) to regenerate, but how do you balance what the body needs and what the gods require? If for instance you rely on half a liver do you get half an answer? Or is half as good as whole if you know what you’re looking for? Uncertain whether she does know, she looks. It’s smooth, hot, slippery, reminds her of something that fucks, or ought to be fucked. Not likely. Only delivery boys coming here anymore, never meeting her eyes as they hand off meals too oddly timed to call lunch or dinner. Something in the color? Same red as a dress she wore to a high school dance: satin, a whorl of velvet spilling down the front. Is revelation hiding in that memory, a happy night in the company of friends, in days when everyone was a friend, when she could comb through her yearbook and put a name to every face? What a thing to believe you’d always be known, that you’d never be lonesome again. Is it too much to hope for now? She lifts the organ to her mouth, slides the tip of her tongue across its slick surface, tastes pennies. It’s not enough. She worries a sliver between her teeth, tears it loose. Like eating the dirt from a battlefield. A war is an easy thing to foretell, but there are wars and there are wars, and how can you know which kind is coming, how literal should a prophesy get, and who will win, and when, and what are you fighting and what are you fighting for? These must be answers of a kind, but they require consideration, possibly trigonometry. Anyway she’ll think on them while she tucks herself back into herself and stitches her wound shut and trails a lazy mop across the mess she’s made of the kitchen floor and sleeps (god she must sleep), and maybe the answers will resolve at the edge of a dream and there, too, some of her screams may finally take the form of a question.

Sutton Strother is a writer and English instructor living in New York. Her work has been featured in SmokeLong Quarterly, Pithead Chapel, Jellyfish Review, CHEAP POP, and elsewhere. You can find more of her work at suttonstrother.wordpress.com. She tweets @suttonstrother.

Artwork by: Evie Shaffer