by Leah Thomas
Gus accidentally crushed his wife’s cochlea during breakfast.
The spiraling piece of inner ear was almost the exact same shade of beige as the tablecloth his Great Aunt had given them at their wedding; Gwen couldn’t have expected him to spot it when he set down the jar of marmalade. She should have left the cochlea in her earhole where it belonged, but she had taken to removing it while she slept and only jamming it back into the side of her skull again moments before stumbling out the door on her way to the unemployment office.
The dislocated eardrum emitted the strangest sound as it was flattened, like the squeaking of fingertips against dry teeth.
The naked bones of Gwen’s knuckles clicked when she lifted the jar. Although neither of her eyesockets — one an echoing black hole, the other occupied by a myopic, amber-irised eyeball — were framed by brows or lids, and although she could not afford a crinkled forehead, Gus could read the expression on her skull as easily as he could any face with a complete set of features. Had her tear glands not been on layaway, she might have wept. Had her nose been more than a few strips of cartilage, she may have sniffled.