excerpted from “The Parts of Me
by Chelsea Sutton
{from e-Issue #7}

 

Ms. Jenkins has three buttons where her nose should be.

She frowns and sneezes as she counts out nine dollars for the day-old bread. One of the buttons detaches itself and rides the sneeze all the way to the counter where it lands on the back of my hand. It has a mother-of-pearl sheen to it, with bits of velvet thread still clinging to its holes. She must have removed it from an old Sunday coat.

The rumor was, Ms. Jenkins had fallen in love with a college professor years ago. But when he finally shunned her, after several trysts in the most remote parts of the campus library, Ms. Jenkins awoke the morning after with her nose disappeared from her face.

Ms. Jenkins has said that she is happy of the fact she never again has to smell the aroma of ancient books.

Falling in love and falling out again could be a dangerous business. You never come out fully in tact.

I had lost my left eye and my right ear nearly a year ago. Denny had been a musician and a painter, and so they were ripped from me after things went sour. I may be deaf on my left side, but I at least have a set of marbles and beach stones I like to wear in the empty eye socket – today, I am wearing a green marble with squiggles of white and purple.

I hand the button back to her and she grabs it with a grunt.

“You must get that oven fixed, Riley,” she says, gripping the bag I had stuffed with three loaves of yesterday’s batch.

“I’ve already called for the repair, ma’am.”

“I have half a mind to go to Helson’s bakery from now on. He has working ovens and never sells anything he baked the day before.” She’s trying to tie the lost button back to her face.

“Half a mind?” Mr. Link’s voice comes from behind her, where he’s been waiting to order his usual Tuesday breakfast. “Did you lose your mind along with your nose, Ms. Jenkins?” Mr. Link taps his thread-bare newsboy hat and gives her a toothy grin.

“Literal old fool,” Ms. Jenkins turns red and kicks at the umbrella that stands in place of Mr. Link’s left leg, which disappeared shortly after his wife died not five years ago.

“Here.” Mr. Link lifts his right hand where a needle has replaced his index finger, and a spool of thread lives where his thumb should be. With a quick flick of the wrist, Ms. Jenkin’s button is sewn back to her face.

“See?” he says. “We’re made for each other, you and I.”

. . .

Chelsea Sutton is a fiction writer and playwright in Los Angeles. Her fiction has appeared in Bourbon Penn, Farmhouse Magazine, The Catalyst, Spectrum, Eclectic Voices, and Fictionade. She was the 2011 Winner of NYC Midnight’s Flash Fiction Contest and received Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train’s Short Story Award for New Writers. Her plays have been developed and produced in Santa Barbara, New York and Los Angeles, most recently with Skylight Theatre Company’s PlayLab and The Vagrancy. Her play The Dead Woman was recently named a Semifinalist in the Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference 2013 and a finalist for the Stanley Drama Award.