portion of the artwork for Zin Kenter's story

Zin Kenter

After Monica broke her heart by falling from a place of high passion, she resolved to no longer let emotions run free: no more anger gathering behind the eyes, no more love bursting from the heart, no more fear living in the pit of her stomach. She channeled all these feelings from wherever they might start to a tiny place between her shoulder blades, where she could not see them and they would not trouble her nor interfere with her daily comings and goings. Others did not notice more than a slight subduing of her affect, as if she had been emotionally botoxed and could still approximate a frown or a query, just without wrinkling her soul.

This worked quite well for her, as she continued with her life. She married a man who enjoyed her level demeanor and started a business devoted to importing parasols from France and Italy. All the while, passions were relegated to a single spot where they were of no concern. She did name the spot (choosing at random the name Harold, since she did not know nor had she ever known any Harold and did not particularly like or dislike the name), but other than that, it was behind her in every way.

After some time her blouses and jackets were straining a bit. Harold lived just above the hooks of her bra and grew to the point where it required more space than her clothing allowed. She visited a tailor and asked that a half-globe about the size of a cantaloupe be added to the back of each piece. The tailor thought that strange, but did as she asked, as she was paying him a good rate for his work, and he found matching fabrics and fit the redesigned garments over her third breast (for that is how he, being a man, understood it).

Her husband did now notice the swelling on her back as he put his arm around her. “Yes,” she told him, “that is Harold. It does not trouble me and it will not trouble you.” He was not so easily reassured, and inquired as to Harold’s origin and nature. Monica explained about the day she channeled all her passions into the small spot between her shoulder blades.

Her husband became obsessed with Harold, imagining it to be undulating. He swore he saw fluorescent fluid seeping from it, though Monica assured him it was completely dry. He insisted a foul odor emanated from it, though it seemed only his olfactory nerves could detect such a smell. He took to sleeping on the couch, where he would cry out in his sleep, “Get the hell away from me!” time after time, and found himself alone in the living room with Monica (and Harold) asleep upstairs.

Unable to tolerate such a situation, he moved away, far away from Monica (and Harold), and the obsession faded.

Monica accepted the situation and continued with her life, as she had before, and began to design her own parasols which she exported to France and Italy. She occasionally visited the tailor to have new clothing altered so as to accommodate Harold, and he began to woo her with flowers from Switzerland and chocolates from Ecuador, which she accepted, and offers of marriage, which she did not, because she had had enough of men and their foolishness.

Her former husband married again, and every time his new wife cried because he forgot their anniversary, or screamed when a spider emerged from a dark corner, or giggled in the middle of a movie about invading aliens, or scolded him for coming home late after a few beers with the boys, he would gaze at the flat space on her back between her shoulder blades and hope it would begin to grow.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 30 | Fall 2010