Mango Worms This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

December 28, 2012
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I tell people to call me Max because it’s easy. I’ve never been one for patience. My maid vacuums the rug around my lifeless body, spices that seep from mahogany pores like patchouli incense. Profanity curdles my sentences into worms that fry on the sidewalk in afternoon sun. This is it. This is sadness.
I hold the purple flashlight with two hands ‘cause it’s heavy, the beam right on the pulsing wound. Cara’s father’s hands are sure, a comfort that mutes out the squeals of pain. Thick fingers comb through fur, feeling for the hard, smooth bumps. It’s a process. Steady pressure, harsh yelps, and then it’s over. The moist parasite squirms on white paper napkin stained with burnt orange kitten blood. He sets down the cat on Cara’s lap, who rubs Neosporin on the wound. “We’re not done,” He says. “There are about four on his tail.” The flashlight shakes.
We learn in psychology how people with split-brains have trouble making up their minds. It’s a medical procedure: severe epilepsy is like a lightning storm inside your head. One man reported buttoning a shirt with one hand and having the other hand unbutton the progress. Two people in one body. I imagine the shirt to be blue.
The kitten squirms in Cara’s arms, violent jerks, screeches that echo louder than the television. Her father works quickly, knuckles white, the cream colored worm breaking the surface. “The big ones are easier to get out, but they leave a larger exit wound.” He explains to me. The kitten spasms, and Cara yelps. “Dad, he’s hurting me.” She weeps.
I call for help but no one hears me. I swim twelve laps in a green dirty pool and my displacement is zero. Cramping and out of breath, I haven’t gone anywhere. Stress bubbles over my forehead in pulsing red zits. I imagine them as mango worms, pasty plump, and I pop them all. The wounds sting. I rub Neosporin and flinch at my touch. Motor functions that react to sensory. I wish my brain was split. But this is it.
This is sadness.
The whole thing is over. Cara lies on the couch, blanket in her lap, rubbing the kitten on tearstained cheeks. My veins feel pinched, skin stretched tight over dense bones. A vacuum whirs behind closed doors. “Will he have trauma?” I ask her, voice catching, hands gripped around the flashlight. “No,” she whispers, soft kisses on his forehead, skinny red welts across her arms.
“They always forget.”

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