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'How to Disappear' by Debra Waters

LISP 2022 Flash Fiction LISP Finalist 'How to Disappear' by Debra Waters

'How to Disappear'


To be seen, you must be unseen. Face on, you’ll be almost as he remembers; side on you’ll be as inconspicuous as a twig. In your euphoric plan, it’s then that he’ll recall you as a beauty once imbued with flesh – not just bones and fascia and skin—someone he grasped and hugged and held.

This is how you’ll do it. You’ll consume less and less, gram by gram. At first, no bread. Then no rice, pasta, potatoes. You’ll take your tea black, wincing as the tannins sting your tongue. Breakfast will be ignored, then forgotten. Your stomach will gnaw itself, and the pain will sustain you. You’ll ban the oils and sugar that set your brain alight and made life, briefly, a joyous thing. Mayo and ketchup? So many calories! Salt and pepper? Excessive! Meat in meals, rejected, then meals at mealtimes. You’ll fill the vacuum with lettuce and tissues and fantasies of that yakitoriya near Kitasenju station, where you shared moist umami chicken and corn dowsed in miso butter. Or the doughy knedlíky you washed down with Pilsner, in the cafe near Wenceslas Square. You knew that he would leave you – your cravings too great to be sated, the small folds around your stomach a distasteful accumulation – but your lone thought was how you’d never had such soft dumplings before, just the hard suet spheres your mother cooked with beef and rosemary stew. Now you’ll chew a nut only to spit it out into your dry, papery palms. You’ll Jeanne d’Arc the shit out of yourself – nothing will pass your cracked lips. You’ll talk in tongues, see angels on the Central Line and be carried away – blissed out by the bizarre belief that by being less, he’ll want you more.


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