Geoff’s hand was the first part of him that disappeared outside of the apartment he used to share with his ex-girlfriend, Candace. He was attempting reconciliation after their most recent breakup over his continuing friendship with an ex from college. Friendship. It was a word that Candace nearly choked on every time he used it to put her nerves at ease, to show her there was nothing to be threatened by. It didn’t work. After she kicked him out, he left voicemails, sent flowers to the coffee shop she worked at, requested a song for her on the local radio station, and bought a personal ad in the paper, apologizing and admitting he was wrong.

Without a response from her, no thank you, no I love you, no come back, he felt it was time for an extreme measure. He followed Candace home from her barista job, staying a few car lengths back as she walked to her bus stop, rode across town, and eventually got off at her complex. He watched her unlock the door, which always stuck in the frame unless the keys were jiggled twice to the left while shoving forward. Geoff parked close to the balcony and put in the Color Me Badd CD she’d gifted him as a joke at Christmas last year. He turned up the volume as loud as his car’s seventeen-year-old speakers would let him. This was a gesture, the kind that Candace had always begged him for, and she was going to get it.

He was nearly finished with the track list when she stepped onto the balcony, her hair dripping from a shower. He listed the thousands of ways he desired her. He got out of the car and kneeled in the gravel of the parking lot. The small stones bit into his knees. Dots of blood stained his khakis. He shouted that he needed her. He cited the pancakes and frittatas and tofu scrambles she made most Saturday mornings. The shape of her eyes, the curve of her ass, the satin of her skin. The way her fingers unraveled the knot that tangled in his shoulders every week. How, without her, he was nothing. He stretched his arms toward her saying she was the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen, comparing her to fields of roses and the entire catalogues of Gershwin and Bach. A loud sucking sound, like someone slurping up the last bits of a particularly thick milkshake, drowned him out, and his left hand was replaced by empty space. The skin stretched tight and shiny across the nub. He said it again and off went his other hand with the same sound. His watch fell and its glass face cracked on the ground with a twinkle.

He told her the past two years had been the best of his life and both feet evaporated. His loafers fell to the asphalt. Candace crossed her arms; she was rapidly losing interest. She had a quiche cooling on her stove and could hear the beginning notes of a Designing Women episode ringing from the TV. He sifted through the mental list of things he thought saying could win her back. He wanted to build a life with her. Both forearms vanished to the elbow. He could change. His right leg was gone, and finished when he said she made him want to be a better man. The muscles in his left leg strained to hold his weight. A cramp rumbled in his calf. He propped himself up on the remainder of his arms. He said he’d imagined them living in the Italian countryside with three kids. She sold jams made from blueberries picked from their backyard garden, while he stayed home with the kids making macaroni necklaces. This declaration whittled him to just his neck and head, which stuck up through his shirt.

He used his tongue to push away his shirt’s collar from his mouth. He balanced on the point of his chin. The asphalt sizzled against his throat. He contorted his face into Real, Honest to God Remorse, a look he had practiced in his bathroom mirror before coming to the apartment. Candace rested her arms on the railing of the balcony. He struggled to keep his head upright. He tilted his chin toward her and said he loved her, and then he was gone, leaving behind a ball of clothes, the fabric shifting in the summer breeze next to his idling car.

Simone Person grew up in Michigan and Ohio, and is a dual Fiction MFA and African American and African Diaspora Studies MA at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Moonsick Magazine, Cosmonauts Avenue, The Conium Review, and others. She sporadically uses Twitter and Instagram at @princxporkchop.

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