The Girl Who Cut Off Her Limbs

The studies reported that the people who were once able-bodied and then became paralyzed felt less happy than able-bodied people, less sad than able-bodied people…That feeling is completely rooted in your flesh.
—WNYC, Radio Lab, “Where Am I?”

The Unemotional Quadriplegic runs his phantom fingers through my hair.
I sigh at his shoulder. “There, there,” he says.

“Sometimes, when I sit next to a man I don’t know, I want to kiss him.”
“I understand,” he says, phantoms at my back, but I don’t think he does.

“One time I did. The man kissed back then wanted to buy me shoes.
That was the same night I followed a white-haired woman’s breaths

as she leaned against a signpost. I thought she might die.
She didn’t. So I kissed The Strange Man Who Wanted to Buy Me Shoes.

When we walked past The White-Haired Woman Who Didn’t Die
she asked if I had a cigarette and it seemed important to stop and say,

‘I don’t have a cigarette because I don’t smoke, but if I did I’d give it to you.’
Later, I found out The Strange Man Who Wanted to Buy Me Shoes had a cigarette.”

The Unemotional Quadriplegic nods, “there, there,” points to a drawer.
He wants me to open it. I’m not sure if I should, but I do.

Inside there’s a saw, bloodied at the ridge.
“There are ways to be like me,” he says. “Take the saw.”

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