I’m an old man now, but I was a boy once, and I saw things—adults with backward rollercoaster eyes, muddy backhoe faces, steel wool fingers, javelin forearms that could tack anything they wanted to a wall, a floorboard, a bed board, or a rusty bedspring creaking for rescue.
I was a glass boy then, blown wrong, on accident or on purpose, I never knew. My spine was shaped like a jug handle. People would pick me up that way and pour me out, every bit of my being sprayed every which way like a never-ending salt shower. The crush of people walking over me sounded like a mouthful of Pop Rocks candy. It felt like sand stuck beneath eyelids. It smelled like formaldehyde steaming ripe under the nose. It…
It didn’t count if I cracked or got leaky. That just meant I would face the blow torch, get melted and reformed wrong again, this time my legs bent in upside down U shapes, me a human bike rack without any locks.
The things I was asked then were always puzzling, troubling.
Like: You wanna know where are all the angels are when you need one, take a peek in the garbage disposal.
Like: Did you ever know your heartbeat has a problem with arithmetic and your chin never stops doing The Charleston?
Like: How come you’re looking at me that way, you little fucking pussy?
My teacher sat me in the back of the class, in front of all the Mason Jars containing bloated dead frogs. One of them was actually a clown fish and seemed to wear a coiled beard similar to my uncle’s. I wondered if it felt just as rough against the skin, on those patches skin that are not supposed to be touched.
For a while, a girl liked me for some reason. She was only three and a half feet tall because her waist kicked hard to the left, as if the ribs on that side were soggy French toast. Because I didn’t know how to like a girl back, all I ever said to her was (…) I remember her name was Suzie and that her right hook felt like a sheet of molten steel.
At church, people spoke in tongues with their tongues, though I couldn’t actually ever see their tongues. One woman fainted, and collapsed into my lap, shattering my knees and groin, every shard ricocheting off the back of the walnut pew in front of me. Mother coughed coughed coughed, impressed or embarrassed, I never knew, and tossed my upper half into her alligator-mouth purse while it burped sour milk smell until she fastened the snap.
I saw other things… I shattered lots of other times… There were other…
I’m an old man now, but points of glass still float beneath the second layer of my dermis, glowing blue-white, like eager ghouls. When they push through the skin, I use a tweezer to pull them all the way free. There must be a million of them by now. I’ve made a mosaic with every flint shape of tainted crystal. They cover the entire wall in my study. Depending on the way the light hits them, they either resemble my mother, or on other times, an exact replica of my father, lighting a match or torch, inhaling smoke with one eye squinted sharply, his mouth a dark, gluey tar pit, staring right at me.