It has only been three nights since I decided that you didn’t love me enough. Tonight, trenched in silent anger we feign sleep in some alternate universe, some parallel hell where we stare dead-eyed at the same ceiling, the same eggshell white. Laid to rest in separate rooms, I swelter under winter blankets left on the bed too long; it is April now. You shift on three inches of air, which slowly leaks from the blue inflatable mattress in the living room. Odd that you chose that room as your campsite, since what we’ve been doing can hardly be called living. I’ve felt bound up in my own body, like those Egyptians whose souls still managed to slip out of yards and yards of cloth. They packed their tombs with amulets, statues of gods, took every gilded thing into the afterlife; once you're gone, this small apartment will become an exhibit of our love. I will have an empty bed, not grand, but engraved with the unyielding shape of your body. I will have the gaping closet which held your shirts, a shadowy mouth shouting now what? I will have pictures of us, which I will peel from the frames I picked so carefully; I matched the fake-gilded scroll work to the gold sweater I wore, the dark faux-wood to your dense hair. I will remove the pictures, and in the hollow frames I will place my organs for safekeeping, ceremony: intestines, bittered with the dinners I will eat alone. The stomach in the blue acrylic frame will hang grey against the pop of color, riddled with ulcers. The fear that you may never want children left my tenderer parts in disrepair. The lungs have shrunk, wasted with the cutting breaths of wails, the shallow panting of questions unanswerable. I will put those in the small oval frame we purchased from a run-down highway thrift-shop, now a memento mori, an anatomy-theatre attraction. In the darkest frame, my liver, my poor seat of passion, my other heart which I now drown in elixirs, wrap in linen, sprinkle with perfume. How odd that once they thought it was a place of humors; I would rather have it on the wall where it cannot pump its heat into my blood. I wish to sleep the sleep of the embalmed.
Originally from St. Louis, MO, Amanda Williams is currently in her first year of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Hollins University in Roanoke, VA. She received BA degrees in English Literature and Theatre at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, IL and spent a year studying Early Modern literature abroad at the University of Oxford.