The baby is screaming. I turn to the kitchen window, hoping you are mowing the backyard, but all I see is overgrown green. The smoke alarm blares. I grab the baby, rush past the burning skillet, and scatter papers around on the dining room table. I find the autopsy report and read it aloud to the baby: maybe he can make sense of what I am too broken to understand. My chest rattles as I make my way down the list of organs. It’s here somewhere, between the weight of the liver and the color of the spleen. Flames grow higher. I beg the baby to stop crying, hoping he has an answer to reveal—we can cut it out of us and throw it into the fire. The smoke rolls in like a procession through the center of town. The baby is screaming. His cheeks are swollen and red. I wrap him tight in a dishtowel, press my face to his body, and imagine you waiting for us out beyond the galaxies, where time keeps all of our regrets.
3 Questions for C.Cimmone
What was your process for creating this work?
This piece was crafted like nothing else I've ever written. The obsession with reading his autopsy report lasted a very long time; I overcame this aspect of grief, but I wondered what would have happened had I not recovered - if I had let my mind continue this obsession with his organs, his body, his death. I wrote it in my head, sent it out, but it never felt right. It needed more 'punch' and I later re-worked the piece, added in the punch, but I worried it would be rejected based on the suicide/homicide subject matter. I took a chance all the way around with this piece.
What is the significance of the form/genre you chose for this work?
This piece is a hodgepodge of CNF, flash fiction, poetry, prose - you name it, it falls in. When I saw the Harpy sub call, I sent this over, as it was a perfect call for this interesting piece.
What is the significance of this work to you?
This piece hits me hard because it could have happened. Had I not taken a very difficult journey to work on my grief, I could have very easily ended up as the mother does in this piece. This short piece is a reminder that grief comes in all forms and although you can't see it, it can take hold of you like nothing else you've ever encountered.
C. Cimmone is an author and editor from Texas. To read more about her, visit www.ccimmone.com.