I am a man in bed, and I have woken up to find my skin is like an eggshell: a thin brittle layer of white calcite, and I am the glair and the yoke suspended inside of it. Within the whites of my existence, my muscles threaten to twitch. That would crack little portions of my skin. I feel the pain. Each crack is an unhealing cut exposing a delicate and painful membrane. It is as though my nails are cracked and the covered skin is being allowed to sting in the air. 

I don’t know how this happened; I woke up and found myself like this. I have only just now begun to devote thought to why I am in this state really. My initial waking thoughts were prostrate and bowed to the immense pain of cracking open my oophorm eyes. I know now that my eyes are as delicate as egg yolks sitting in the saucers of my skull. I cannot move. I physically cannot move any portion of my body without pain. My right hand attempted to touch my painful eyes when they broke open, but I am thankful that the cracking pain around my elbow ceased my movement immediately and entirely. The membrane there remains intact, thankfully.

I have tried to look around, but that jostled the yolkish humor of my eyes into near blindness. So, I no longer move them. I can see only upwards, and no explanation as to how this could have come to pass exists in my brain nor in the popcorn plaster ceiling. 

I feel vulnerable in my nest of a bed, and I grow to worry that my weighted blanket may slowly crack me although I doubt the weight in it is heavy enough for that. I feel my mind scrambling in its shell over how this could have happened; who could I have angered? What spirits have I slighted? What ghouls graves have I desecrated? Is my house on a Native Burial; did a massacre occur here perpetrated by some long-forgotten and/or notorious piece-of-shit ancestors? Did my ancestors own slaves? Do they now haunt me? I feel the guilt more than anything weighing on me. I will crush myself in my cotton nest. The thread count is triple digits; the nest of my death will be a soft one at least.

I lay in my grave thinking for a while on the significance of the threads and of what they are made. The cotton cradles my eggshell skin, and I realize who picked this nation’s cotton. Then, I realize where the boards of my bedframe were most likely felled, the vestal forests of America. Trees once spread from sea to shining sea before the men with eggshell skin felled them because they thought it to be their destiny. Now I have that skin. I wonder if my ancestors feel as guilty as I do while they lounge in the clouds of White Heaven. I wonder if they burn crosses there too. 

I am held up and nestled in a representation of all the threads of all the people my ancestors could have slighted and desecrated. I am an angry little egged up White man stuck here; I’ll probably die here. I should die here. At least, I’ll die in bed. There’s worse places to die: on the toilet, under the weight of a horse, in your senior prom. Appropriated melodies and musical theory flows into my brain as I think of the song I’ll die to. I am trying to decipher a hundred tunes to find their jazzy stems and their freedom song roots. Louis Armstrong whispers to me about the trees of green and the red roses too. I wonder if the people my family felled ever saw them bloom, and I think to myself, what a woeful world.

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

CategoriesFlash Fiction
Xavier Zane Wherley

Xavier Zane Wherley (they/them) is an emerging author and poet who has recently seen publication in journals such as God’s Cruel Joke, Free Spirit, and Beyond Words. Their creative focus is on the surreal, fantastical, or otherwise strange. Being genderqueer, homosexual, and autistic, Xavier shares with us an atypical and underheard viewpoint that they hope will broaden your perspectives and soften your biases. For so long, they have struggled to be considered normal when what they needed was to be simply considered at all.