The dead body stares at me with brown eyes. It frowns. It lies on the white table on its back. It exposes itself to me—its purple neck swells; its clavicle jabs my hand; its ribs poke out; its feet stink; its cock looks like mine. I carve a neat “I” into its abdomen with a scalpel and pull apart the flaps. The belly opens for me. I reach in. I am not wearing gloves. Even the insides speak to me. The bits of viscera steam against the table one by one as I remove them, wet and flimsy and grayish-brown. They are warm. I can read them. I do.
A new romance will enter your life very soon, reads the large intestine.
Thank you, I say.
You have lost something important to you,begins the small intestine, which is of course much larger than the large intestine. Funny.
That is true, I say.
If you wait patiently,it finishes, it will come back or something new will take its place.
I don’t want something new, I say.
Your temper will get you into trouble if you don’t control it,reads the kidney.
Fuck you, I say.
Hush, reads the gallbladder.
I say nothing.
What are you doing? says the dead man. It is the voice of my younger brother. He is looking at me. His eyebrows pinch. His glassy eyes glance down at his torn-up midsection. His blue lips purse.
Nothing, I say. I’m doing nothing.
He believes me. He relaxes. I place his entrails carefully back in place, sew his belly back together, carry him to his bed, tuck him in, kiss his forehead, leave his house. Tomorrow morning he will wake up and he will not know what happened to him, and tomorrow or the next day or the next day a new romance will enter my life and my temper will get me into trouble, and if I’m patient and if I’m lucky, maybe someday my baby brother will come back to me.
Jacob Budenz is a writer, multi-disciplinary performer, and witch currently completing an MFA at University of New Orleans. The author of PASTEL WITCHERIES (Seven Kitchens Press) and Spellwork for the Modern Pastel Witch (forthcoming by Birds Piled Loosely Press), Jacob has work most recently in Liminality, Glittership, Slipstream Press, and Mason Jar Press’s Broken Metropolis anthology. See more at www.jakebeearts.com or on twitter at @jakebeearts.
Artwork: Vintage lithograph, Situs viscerum, Human Organs Diagram, Abdomen, Human Body, Heart, Lungs, Intestine, Stomach, 1901.