It has become difficult to walk since I started falling apart. I take a few steps and feel a patch of skin sliding down my calf under my jeans, so I must stop to catch it before it slips onto the ground. I stick it in my pocket hoping I will be able to reattach it later when I get home.
This has been going on since the day after the election.
That morning, as I was getting dressed for work, I noticed that my fingernails had fallen off. I stopped, took off my shoes and socks, checked my toes. Three of them had also lost nails.
I went to the mirror. The tip of my nose was gone. I was sure I was all together the previous morning. How could I have not felt these bits of me falling away? Where had they gone?
I called my boss and told her I was sick. I searched my house but could not find the missing pieces.
Since then I have paid more attention to my body. Often, when I wake in the morning I will discover some small part hiding under the sheets, or on my pillow. I take it into the bathroom with the first-aid kit I have assembled. I have thread and needles, Krazy Glue, Scotch Tape, and a small stapler. Depending on what has fallen off and from where I choose my remedy.
The pieces I have lost, like the tip of my nose, do not seem to cause other people concern. I find that strange that no one notices. Not even my husband, who knows my body so well.
When making love, as he strokes my belly or cups my breast, I glance about, making sure there are no scraps of me littering our bed. So far, I have remained intact through those moments. His closeness seems to hold me together.
It is exhausting to have to be constantly aware of what has come undone or broken off or is in the process of tearing away. All day long I collect the pieces. I hide them in a pocket or my bag until later when I can go back home and repair myself.
Two weeks ago, my sister and I were sitting in my living room, chatting. She told me I’d gotten thinner. “You look good,” she said. I have been stepping on the bathroom scale each morning, so I know I have lost a few pounds.
The missing pieces could not weigh very much. I wonder if perhaps some of my internal organs have disappeared. I may have unknowingly flushed a kidney or my gall bladder down the toilet.
A funny thing about all this is that my house has started falling apart. The cabinet door on our pot closet fell off. Just dropped off its hinges as I was reaching in for a frying pan. I put it in the laundry room. I’ve decided what’s the point in fixing it. Opening and closing, opening and closing. It’s much simpler to just let it be.
The tiles in the shower are also coming off the wall. One of the steps on the staircase to the second floor has split down the middle. The wallpaper in the dining room is coming unglued, curling down here and there, like the bark of the river birch in our yard. My husband’s to-do list grows longer. But instead of making the repairs he talks about selling the house, downsizing, simplifying. I think he’s given up on this place.
Of course, I’m not much concerned with the house. I am afraid that soon I will quit trying to keep myself together. I mean, how long can a person keep this up? It might be better just to let my body whittle itself away.
My mind is split in two. One-half is normal, at the moment, thinking thoughts that should be thought. The other is on high alert, repeatedly running through a checklist of body parts.
Is my eyeball protruding from its socket? Is my bottom lip hanging by a sliver of flesh? Did anyone see my index finger on the sidewalk before I scooped it up?