Headstrong – Florrie Kohn

Wanna see your short fiction published here at 7th Titan? Our Contest is currently open for submissions!

We had a lot of great entries for our April 2015 contest! The prompt: “A Fool’s Errand”

Florrie Kohn took second place with her story “Headstrong.”

Headstrong - Florrie Kohn

“How hard can it be to put me in sea-foam green?” snapped Marcy. Her head tightened its jaw as it swiveled from right to left, impaled high on the mahogany bedpost.

Marcy’s body, oddly squared at the shoulders, lurched toward the closet. She shoved both doors to one side, and then began sliding hangers. From the bedpost, Marcy followed along, impatiently, “Cardigan, granny cardigan, slutty skirt, blouse, blouse with stain, scarf, striped cardigan, ugly black dress, fat jeans, skinny jeans, more jeans, dress with feathers, awkward lemon gown—can’t believe I wore it, itchy red bitch dress—wait, wait, go back. That one—the one my right hand is on—sea-foam, brand new, sweet innocence gone wild. Grab it.”

Marcy’s hands pulled at the correct gown, her feet tangled in long chiffon layers and her body tumbled forward into a pile of sharply heeled shoes.

“That could put an eye out,” said Marcy. She hated her body. It didn’t listen. And it sure as hell couldn’t follow simple instructions—like ‘grab the sea-foam green.’ Sometimes, truth be told, she would wake in the predawn sliver of night, stare at her body slumbering below, and spit on it. Her body didn’t notice. It lay still, oblivious to clinging globules. It never moved until morning.

I need smart, thought Marcy, I deserve better than a fool.

Her body broke free from the shoe pile, moved to the center of the room and began dressing. She tugged hard to get the gown’s narrow waist over her hips. That accomplished, she shimmied the gown around until the sweetheart bodice graced the front. Marcy’s hands smoothed the layers, then reached behind and grabbed the zipper pull. “Suck it in at the waist,” Marcy shouted. “And the back—the back—oh my God, pull that chiffon wad out of my thong.”

Tonight was senior prom and Marcy had snagged the date she wanted—the boy she’d lost her head over. At the time she came apart, her mother said, “Going to pieces is no reason to skip prom, especially since the boy asked you out. Only a fool sits home on prom night.” And fool, that word never, ever applies to me, thought Marcy.

Marcy wasn’t surprised that with her date due to arrive at any moment, she had no one to help her get ready. Her mother was off somewhere. Scattered—that’s the reason Marcy’s father left her. Time and time again, Marcy’s mother would give up an arm or a leg to get what she wanted—faster service at the drive-through, good hair in humid weather, a modest win on a lottery ticket. After a day or two, she always recovered her limbs—somehow, thought Marcy—though that right eye she sacrificed for a parking spot never came back.

“Mother No-show,” mumbled Marcy as she looked with irritation at her body. “I can do what I want, when I want. I will walk into prom draped on Richard’s right arm. Everyone will notice. And I’m short enough, now, to wear six-inch killer heels. Body: Start my feet screaming, now.”

Clad in sea-foam green, her body stood motionless. Not looking for the correct super skinny heels. Not up to anything. Not paying much mind to Marcy.

“Hey, pay attention. They’re almost under my nose,” she snapped. Her body shifted into a squat and then into a three-limbed crawl. She swept one hand in front, searching for the heels—in plain view slightly to the right of the bed post. She grasped one, slipped it on the correct foot and soon the other shoe followed.

Her body raised up, precariously balanced on tall heels made awkwardly unstable by the bedroom’s thickly padded carpet—installed to protect against head bumps if Marcy slipped the post. She crept to the vanity. Her right hand gathered blush onto a brush and gently stroked the air. Plainly, Marcy noticed, the fool forgot it was headless. And to make matters worse, a gather of chiffon remained tangled in her thong.

“Hey,” she screeched. “No one goes to prom with a gown wedged up her ass, especially not Marcy Alexandra. Now let’s go.”

Marcy dropped the make-up brush. She scooped up her head by its blonde top-knot and dropped it in a large, golden mesh handbag that provided a porous 360 view. Marcy rolled sideways, scraping her nose on the latch.

“You fucking nitwit. You don’t deserve me. Don’t you ever think? Don’t you ever think about anything?” she shouted. “Oh God—it’s the doorbell. It’s Richard. I swear, if mom was here—well I don’t know what I’d do. You will pay if my nose bleeds.”

As Marcy ranted, she walked out of the bedroom, down the hall and into the front foyer. Marcy pulled open the front door. There Richard stood, eye-level to the sweetheart dip of her bodice. He pressed close. His hands began to wander. Then Mother hopped in from the kitchen. “Damn if I didn’t lose a leg, both ears and my left eye this time,” she said. “I snagged front row tickets to Neil Diamond and a guide dog. My nose told me you were here, Marcy. Aftershave, perfume—they say, smell kicks in when other senses fail.”

Marcy rolled her eyes. Mother was talking to the coat stand. From the mesh handbag, Marcy whispered up to Richard, “Let’s go.” Together, they turned toward the door. As Richard stepped forward, Marcy quietly placed her handbag on the tiled foyer floor. Looking up, her head hissed, “Wedged. God dammit. I’m still wedged.” Her body shrugged, and then left. Mother’s dog pulled at its leash, sniffed and whined. It was hungry.

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