They released me from the hospital with a harp I couldn't play. It was
heavy. I dragged it to the nearest subway station and waited. It had
five out of six feet intact, three of which had caught a trail of human
hair (red), some gum, and a newspaper obituary.
People stared at the size of my harp. I knew I looked like a tomato in
my red suit, and my harp a giant slicer.
A man wearing some kind of knee-cap on his head approached me. "I
shouldn't say anything, but we used to be sandbox playmates." He
lowered his voice further. "This is an experiment. If you climb over
the harp and pretend you're a monkey, I get $5000 and a federal grant."
A woman with a German accent elbowed him aside. "I am counting on you
to know nothing of harps. I am counting on you, Mr. Hamel, to prove that
90% of widowers seek to dominate musical instruments instead of
mastering their grief in a socially inappropriate manner."
"Don't listen to them." A short man disguised as a parrot pushed his
way through. "All I can say is this could change your life for the
better. Or make your death look like an accident."
By then a crowd had gathered. I started plucking the strings. Then
imagination kicked in, and I was pulling my wife's body again from the
water. I plucked at her mouth, but she refused to breathe.
The crowd began shouting, "Useless shit, can't even play the harp
right! This is harp abuse! String him up! Off with his hands!"
The idea of living with Janine's death deprived of hands frightened me
more than living with her death with both hands intact. I shoved the
harp at the angry crowd and ran away. The mob started clobbering the
harp with a strange kind of fury that I'd once observed in feeding pigs.
As I left, I stole some apples from a stand, and I ate those on the way
Arlene Ang serves as a poetry editor for The Pedestal Magazine
1. Other short stories, some
co-written with Valerie Fox, have been published in Admit Two,
Defenestration, Monkeybicycle, Oak Bend Review
She lives in Spinea, Italy.
To link to this story directly: http://wigleaf.com/201003cure.htm
Detail of illustration on main page courtesy
w i g · l e a F