Glass Shards

By Mitchell Grabois


The glass shards embedded in my side usually work their way out slowly but sometimes emerge quickly, as if my body is spitting them out. Once, a Vietnamese woman woke up bleeding. My projectiles had pierced her as she slept. She screamed. She knew a bad omen when she saw one, a lover whose body was an unconscious weapon. I had to run—her father was the police chief. I never had the time to explain. I crossed the border into Cambodia.


When I came back to the U.S., I put an ad on I do not have blockages in my sinuses. I have Dustbowl allergies, allergies my parents brought from Oklahoma in the thirties. I don’t sleep. I’m unpleasant. I want you to know the truth.

Cheryl was the first to respond to my ad. Cheryl rusts from the inside. Her organs are pig iron, the connectors (intestinal, esophageal, eustachian) are lead, green corruption at their joints. She was made strong by Russian ancestors but not made to last. She’s rusting on the inside and her female organs are doing something down there, she doesn’t know what. She’s only seventeen but already menopausal. Three years of sex was all she’d had before this disaster befell her, erasing her maternal fantasies. But boys still crawl in her bedroom window, the sex as mechanical as heavy-metal drumming, but satisfying all the same.

Kayla was the second to respond. Kayla has a yard sale, sells her Minnie Mouse ears and matching gloves, then snap…! She has a vivid memory of herself as a suburban Mouseketeer, naïve, sweet, innocent… Regretting the loss, she runs down the street breathing hard. Her hair flies out behind her, snarled red. She hopes to spy the buyer—maybe at another sale… Kayla’s neighborhood is not so good. When she returns home, all her other possessions are gone, things she wanted to sell and things she had decided to keep after all. Even the tables are gone.

Kayla wakes to Olivia Newton-John working out on the Total Gym, $14.95/30 day trial. Kayla remembers when she herself wore a tight black leather mini-skirt and looked so good. Kayla switches channels, watches a documentary on the Holocaust, goes into the bathroom and gazes at the reflection of her thin, weak arms. Kayla’s not so sure the Holocaust ever happened.

Kayla squirts sunscreen on her toothbrush, realizes her mistake, laughs to herself, a light moment, one few and far between. Kayla’s cat wears a chronically peeved expression and wonders if it’s too late to become feral, already his fate in two of nine alternative universes.


Entire villages perish in an earthquake, crazed gunmen kill moviegoers and the righteous at prayer. Bankers steal billions, children go hungry. The only thing that rivets Ed’s attention is a report on Lady Gaga’s heat-seeking bra. He wonders: How does that work? What’s the technology behind that? Sex is so distant in his past, he lacks the muscle memory to begin to understand. Ed has had breasts in his hands, certainly, but not a celebrity’s, not even somebody locally famous. Shit, he says, rousing himself. He gets out of the chair. Lady Gaga’s heat-seeking bra—the thought won’t leave him. He’s obsessed, transfixed, but his mind can’t find any traction. He stares out the window of his farmhouse at the drought-parched corn. He responds to my ad on because he thinks that I might be the kind of guy who knows things.



Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over 700 of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize for work published in 2012, 2013, and 2014. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available on Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. He lives in Denver.