Small Comfort

My true love appeared as I drew back my right foot to crush his office building. He leapt from the twenty-first story window, grabbed hold of my little toe and cried, “Take me with you!”


I had a headache that day as I often do. The sun’s rude halo niggled. I thought I’d smash up a shopping center to relax, but by the time I’d pulverized two Kohl’s and a Cheesecake Factory, the fun had all gone out of it. The screaming citizens, the giantess sirens, the yappy purse dogs abandoned on park benches. It seemed such a pointless hullabaloo.


He’d managed to get hold of a bullhorn so I deigned to listen. I was charmed by the precious bulge of his muscles, the firmness of his grip–as though I had trod upon an admirably tenacious burr.


“My name’s Oscar and I hate it here. You can’t even call it paper-pushing. It’s all digital now. I’m a figment humping figments. But enough about me. You! You’re the genuine article. What’s your name?”


I told him, though I doubt he heard anything but the roar of jet fighters. He had ears like miniature pink conchs, primly suggestive. I bent down to let him gawk at the tsunami of my breasts. His eyes went crossways.


I lifted him to sit in the rim of my ear so he could whisper dirty stories. I called him my spun-sugar fairy, my tasty morsel, my dust mote. He liked to sleep wrapped around my thumb; I let him think he was protecting me very well indeed.


I loved the pinprick of his tiny penis. I often let him tap it against my fingertip while he asked, “Can you feel me now? How about now? And now?” But I never could. When I was smaller I would crush any ant who dared traverse me. Human beings are infinitely more delicate.


One day the government sent tanks. I stashed Oscar at the top of the tallest tree and geared for battle. I needed no armor, but I believed in the aesthetic power of the warrior’s headdress. Mine had horns made from crushed semi trailers, wound with bright ropes of internet cable I had torn from the ocean floor.


“Don’t go,” he cried, holding his arms up like a child. The canopy shuddered in the wind of a hundred helicopter blades.


“I need space,” I said, though I didn’t. It often took him a full hour to climb from my belly to my face, during which time I could watch shadows changing on the lawn, paint my nails, masturbate. When he summited, sweaty and panting, I was so proud I let him kiss my lower lip from end to end. Sometimes he let himself go limp while I sucked him in like a stray bit of pasta. He liked tongue baths.


Stuffing fistfuls of little green men into my maw, I worried that perhaps I had taken more than my share. I couldn’t bear to have Oscar think of me as a monster or a menace. Civilization is a messy business. I was sent to knock the dust loose. Others came before, and when I die, growing girls will take my place. I wondered if any of them would have the chance to be half as happy.


There was a tank painted black at the rear of the formation. Its side was stencilled with the president’s insignia. I held up my hands. I yelled, “Cease fire! I want to call a truce.”


I picked my way past the queue and let commanders keel over at the sight of my tremendous upskirt, and then I knelt down before the leader, conscious that every gun within fifty miles was trained at the center of my skull.


“Let us stop this madness,” I commanded. “I have had a change of heart.”


A crackle of static, then the voice. “It is too late for that. We have sustained great losses. Our countrymen must be avenged.”


“I was angry before. But I have other concerns now, and I intend make myself scarce. That’s a solemn promise.”


He chuckled. “Sweetheart,” he called me. “You could never be scarce.”


I tried to remain calm. I really did. I thought of Oscar in his treetop, straining his poor puny eyes for my silhouette. I thought of him nestled in the soft down on my neck, humming love songs through his bullhorn. If only they were all like that. The surest way to deserve my mercy is to suspect that you do not.


When I finished there was nothing but ravaged earth and a gunpowder haze gumming the air. My horns hung crooked and bruises bloomed across my thighs where the missiles had struck. I thought I could carry Oscar somewhere tropical, the Bahamas maybe, and make of myself our own private island.


The tree where I’d left him was bare. I bent the trunk until it snapped, and then I snapped all the trees around it, convinced he might be hiding, playing tricks on me. I cleared acres and crawled along in the dirt, searching for the smudge of his footprint, but before I knew it I’d circled the globe four times without a single clue. He was already so small, I thought. Practically infinitesimal. Perhaps he had shrunk, or I had grown, and thus shifted our scales so far apart as to render us each invisible to the other.


He must have found a woman of his own size, and they must be raising their children in a Tom Thumb house atop a tidy green hill.


“What is he to you?” I said to myself. “An ant. An acorn. And you–you are a galaxy!” I knew I was lying. I lay down on a vast plain somewhere, Africa perhaps, and let the grass grow over me. I passed in and out of dreams while animals hunted each other in my hair. I became invisible myself. It was bearable, for a time. Then I would dream of Oscar and my peace would be ruined, and earthquakes would set the whole savannah to trembling.


I was awoken by the sound of shovels. A tribe of women digging for the valuable mushrooms that had taken root in my musk. I watched with one half-slitted eye as they held up hunks of fungi, marveling at their ruffs and ridges, huffing the intoxicant scent. I noticed that the sound of guns was absent from the landscape. There were no cries or screams of pain. The sky was unbroken by jetstreams.


I waited until the women departed for their village with their finds, and then I rolled over and uprooted an entire acacia forest. I rubbed the sleep from my eyes. I stood and placed my hands on my hips, and my shadow darkened miles.

Madeline Gobbo is the store artist at the Booksmith in San Francisco. Her
illustrations have been featured in Full Stop Quarterly, Meridian, The
Toast, and LOOSE LIPS, a collection of literary erotic fanfiction. Her
collaborative fiction with Miles Klee has been published in Mcsweeney's
Internet Tendency, Funhouse and Wigleaf, and is forthcoming in Another
Chicago and Hexus. Find her at and @Madeline_Gobbo

Original artwork also by Madeline Gobbo

Submit a comment