#77 Incarnate

by Dino Parenti

Maddie’s creating again. I can tell by her bloody fingers.

She’s hunched at the table, burled scapulae hooking over the swale of a spine. With the dementia onset came the hand tremors, but she wouldn’t quit her taxidermy. And now she keeps lancing her fingers with those scythe-like spikes she uses for needles.

“Wait till you see Wolfie,” she yodels between trilling whistles. “Minerva, you’re gonna flip!”

I’d nod if I were so inclined. Ditto calling her mom, my sip-and-puff wand notwithstanding. Maddie had forfeited that right some time back; I was fighting leukemia, and she kept doling out unheeded advice and squinting judgment as if deriding the sun’s very efficacy.

“All self-calamity,” she’d say, “metastasizes from audacity.”

Now she whistles and over-coddles.

Wolfie. The Chihuahua rescue I’d adopted as buffer after agreeing to move back in once Maddie’s mind began to decay. A snappy, surly, dirty-blonde hellion, just like her.

This past Thanksgiving, upon announcing that I was donating to cancer the tresses I’d spent a dozen years growing out, those eyelids—scabrous from life-long wrangling—constricted anew at my show of nerve and sovereignty as Wolfie snarled at me from her lap.

Six months ago, after Wolfie and I got run over, it was his death, not my quadriplegia, that almost broke her.

Now listen to Maddie, warbling contentment, basking in her checkered-tile parlor of controlled docility and petrified beasts, plunging-and-pulling individual hairs into a forever play-bowed Wolfie, replacing his unruly flaxen pelt hair-by-hair with my auburn strands.


Lisa Agosti said...

Dino, your story is unbeatable, as usual... And i say it with a mix of admiration and rage! :)

Dino Parenti said...

Unbeatable? You humble me and demean yourself:) Thank you, Lisa.

Jonathan Riley said...

I agree with Lisa. Not even sure why I enter contests against Dino. But you know what the say, if you want to be the best you got to beat the best. Anyway, Love this story. I've read over 40 and it's in my top 3 for sure. Not only is the language awesome, but the story is so original and great. Can't help but to pity poor Minerva.

Deb said...

This is so great. Everything about it.

Leah said...

I love how this ends. Love. The image of the mom using the daughter's hair is soooooo creepy, and also awkwardly beautiful. In a good way, I promise.

Well done, Dino! :D

Jess said...

Whoa, this is brutal stuff, Dino. And I mean that in the most positive and complimentary way! Such visceral imagery!

Chad Clark said...

Nice - great creepy imagery and I like that it forces the reader to really engage the story. Great job.