What's Wrong?
Kathy Fish

I'm lying in bed watching my lover in the reflection of the hotel-room mirror. I see him lean into the shower, the bones of his back like a succession of doorknobs.

He steps in and draws the curtain. It's then that I notice his head, propped and blinking, on the toilet seat.

Baby, what's wrong? I whisper. Moments ago we were wrangling joyfully and brainlessly like a couple of teenagers.

These days people are encouraged to embrace thoughtlessness. Pondering internal states (hunger, desire) is okay. That only makes heads bow, creating an odd crook in the neck. (Chiropractors are doing a brisk business.) But go deeper and there will be consequences, my friend. The weight of one's head becomes commensurate with the weight of one's thoughts. Some heads don't fit in the overhead bins and must be checked at the gate. The proud heads of honors students have been re-purposed as medicine balls. I know a poet who pushes hers around in a baby carriage.

Certain politician's heads, however, have simply floated away like so many helium balloons.

Lavender-scented steam wafts into the room. Breathing deep, I flip the channels and find the show about kittens we have been encouraged to watch. Kittens playing with balls of yarn. Kittens batting tinkly bells. Kittens licking their wee paws. The shower shuts off. The curtain rings scritch. On the toilet seat, my lover's handsome face registers concern.

Kathy Fish is the author of several collections, including TOGETHER WE CAN BURY IT. Her work has appeared widely and is forthcoming in BEST SMALL FICTIONS, 2017, edited by Amy Hempel.

Read her postcard.

See more of her work in the archive.

Detail of photo on main page courtesy of M. Kasahara.

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