Junie cracks her gum like broken bones.
She leans her bobble head into my cubicle and I can smell the spearmint. She ruined toothpaste for me. Paste is just another word for glue, anyway, which is exactly what I feel like I’m wiping all over my mouth: thick, gummy glue that tastes like Junie smells. Once I told Junie I could smell her approaching before I heard her, and she licked my ear, right there in the middle of the office.
I am forty floors above sea level.
“What’s all over your face?” she asks, working her hips in time with her jaw, bouncing against the half-wall of the cubicle. A fax comes through the machine. I can’t tell if I feel trapped, or if I’ve always felt trapped. Something is caged within me, or I am caged within it.
I examine myself in the dull reflection of the computer screen. From this angle, I appear alright, though I can taste my lip bleeding. My cheeks feel raw. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I say, and rub a few scabs off my chin.
It’s not my fault I only have one arm.
The pink plaster skin peels away from the stubble off into my hand. Junie ducks away and makes calls to her boyfriend. I hear her whispers about my face and the sudden absence of my arm. I start to reach down to open my desk drawer, but remembering my left arm is gone, I pause, slumped over to one side.
I wish I had a window.
Junie sticks her minty face back into my cubicle again, eyeing me carefully. She is still on the phone, and shakes her head. “I think it’s spreading.”
This is ridiculous. I settle back into my chair and begin to frantically stab at my keyboard with my middle finger. I’m already behind on my sales reports. Numbers flash across the database as I type. Blood is beginning to stain the keys. Junie has stopped chewing her gum. I straighten up and grab my briefcase with what’s left if my right hand. A fine trace of bumps begins to spread down my wrist like ivy.
I am aching for an oatmeal bath.
Something stabs at my hand and the briefcase falls to the linoleum. Bic pens spill under my feet. Junie screams. I make a move to the elevator, and enter without checking the floor like I usually do to ensure I won’t fall down and empty shaft.
Everything is burning: I’m out of the office, into the misted over air, into the streets filled with wild eyed stares, limping away from skyscrapers. I am tripping away from chrome and cabs and fists of coffee, making my way towards the East River.
My left leg stumps along the FDR, dragging along the remains of my right. If I wasn’t so cold I would think I had caught fire. It’s nearly ten o’clock in the morning. The sidewalk is slick, and suddenly I’m toppling and slipping into the tiny waves. I can’t flail, and I can’t exactly sink, so I force my eyes open. I drift slowly, down and down, into the brown and merciless tide.