Tatoue Moi Sur Tes Seins

August 30, 2012
Lisa was starting to get a bit cold. The box wasn’t shelter enough for her, and the wind was beginning to blow.

Jack never understood why she needed it. Then again, he never really understood her. She was lonely and quiet and barely spoke to him. (He doubted whether she even really loved him.) When Jack met Lisa she was sitting in the park staring at the water, and in the whole of that day she never spoke a word to him. At first he thought the cold, beautiful girl with the dark hair and gray eyes that he dragged out for sushi was mute, and in a way she was, mute in the way that dead people are mute. She said nothing because she had nothing to say. Or at least that’s what she seemed to want him to think. She was just blank. Pale, featureless, emotionless, with no memory or possessions beyond the contents of the box she dragged in with her when she moved in.

Into that battered cardboard box Lisa placed her soul, or that’s what Jack liked to think. It was a hodgepodge collection of oddities: photographs of children that could only be her and her brother (or cousin? Jack didn’t know. Lisa’s family was a secret to him.), a pebble from a neighbor’s rock garden, a small bird she found dead on the side of the road (carefully wrapped in a clear plastic bag because it was falling apart, and rather gross).

When Jack died, Lisa put his left hand in the box. The mortician never knew where it had gone, because she could have sworn that it was there when the body first arrived. (Though she was rather too frightened of the ghostlike wife, who didn’t shed a tear or even seem to notice her husband had died.) Later the mortician would swear that Lisa had always been an odd one.

Jack often wondered if Lisa loved him. Sometimes it was hard to believe he hadn’t simply made her up, as she left no trace beyond the ever-changing contents of the box. (Not that he ever saw her put anything in or take anything out.) When he thought she wasn’t watching, he would go look through its contents to prove to himself she was real. He knew he was loved when one of his missing socks turned up in the box, and took to searching for bits of him when he felt most alone. She liked to watch him.

One day, not long after Jack died, Lisa emptied out the box. She lined up her ephemera in rows on the carpet, dead bird by bookend, and torn playing card atop old shoe. When she had strewn her life across the living room floor, she undressed, placed her clothes among the wreckage, and climbed into the box.

She’s still in there. The house burnt down around her, but the box sat barely scorched where the living room used to be. The wind picked up and Lisa huddled in her box, cold and alone.

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