Sara Kachelman




Cindy's aunts are making stew in a house made of other houses, a house now shaped like a boot. All afternoon she has heard them cackling. The aunts argue as one animal, the way one animal will gnaw something, its own red leg, tediously and with great passion. Cindy lies in her third floor bower, her bedroom rank with funeral flowers.

In the pot, an unctuous broth of lobsters, mushrooms, fat turtle, spring chicken, milk chocolate, chopped carrot, tinned peaches.

Cindy has an older brother, Sean. He appears in his hood, circles the pot, dips in his cup. Withdraws to eat secretly.



When Cindy goes outside to play, the yard is full of fallen women. A heel stuck out, hair crazy. Foul things. None of them decent. The fence is half down and still they fall. When they stir, it is only after a long time. In their hands, snatches of birds.

The aunts sit in the sunken den, faces hidden with magazines. When it rains, the ground will close up again. “And the world is better for it!”



The aunts sleep in cots aligned by the kitchen. They sleep on their left sides. Deep in their bodies, the moon rises, and in the morning, evidence of dark clotted matter. They wash out their linens, the clockwork of arms.



One night, in the bathtub, Cindy gives birth to a large, black egg. It rolls around the drain, dark as onyx and just as heavy. She lifts it out of the water, afraid it will drown. She is shocked by its hardness. Her fingers leave no prints on its polished surface. It has a low hum, almost warm.

She wraps the egg in a towel, takes it to her room. The only suitable place, of course, would be the doll hospital.



Cindy: Where are you going?
Mother: For a swim.
Cindy: Where?
Mother: The pond.
Cindy: Can I come?
Mother: Yes.



Cindy has sewn them blue napkin gowns. But they are in bad shape. It is unlikely they will ever recover. Most are blondes, some are newborns, all of them missing something. Her babies! A separate box for amputations. Cindy asks, what kind of dead are you? It is possible to be dead-pretty. The dead-uglies she takes to the pond.

The egg sits on the shelf between dolls. It has power among other hidden things, girl porn, hard candy, the satin bra of her mother.

Sean: What's that?
Cindy: What?
Sean: That black thing.
Cindy: It's mine.
Sean: Where did you get it?
Cindy: Give it back!



Cindy meets Sean in the dark hallway. She pushes him, and he falls. He falls like a doll, down the stairwell, to the corner, then the horsewhip crack of the head, the lacey spray along the walls.



Somewhere in the house, Cindy knows, Sean has secreted the egg. The house rises six floors high. Each floor has sprung a leak. Through the walls, a low, blank chord.



Music for love. Old songs for band shells. “Moonglow.” “Tenderly.” “Mood Indigo.” All night long the clown band plays, while Cindy dreams of a strange movie theatre, back-lit and bluish, nothing there, just one fool laughing.



The aunts surround the egg. It stands alone on the coffee table. They have cleared the books away. In the room, the deaf frequency of machines. The oven responds, the furnace responds. The curtains expose white figures on the lawn.

The aunts are waiting. They have asked Cindy to explain herself.

Cindy moves toward the egg, a thread pulling at her hand. What a deity to come from her body, which is small and pink, much smaller now. When she is close enough, she sees the egg has aged. Fine creases in the surface where the warmth had run out. Her fault! Cindy pales, her organs accusing each other.

The second before her finger probes, with practiced tenderness, that unlike skin. She knows the shell will give way with the sick yield of the dead, will retch its cold effluvial soup, and the women will gasp and fly from the room. Then Cindy will be alone with her ruin, will cradle what has been wasted, and it will finally be hers.







For young women whose bodies are spoken for by somebody else.