The Cure
Arlene Ang

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 home.

Arlene Ang serves as a poetry editor for The Pedestal Magazine and Press 1. Other short stories, some co-written with Valerie Fox, have been published in Admit Two, Defenestration, Monkeybicycle, Oak Bend Review and qarrtsiluni. She lives in Spinea, Italy.

To link to this story directly:

Detail of illustration on main page courtesy of geebee2007.

w i g · l e a F               03-17-10                                [home]