an ear, a heart, a life a life a life

by Rachel Abbey McCafferty

Her best friend in fourth grade had her left pinky; her high school boyfriend her right earlobe. She had given her husband her right kidney and taken his left kneecap; her sister had hers. She had tried to give her mother her right lung and her father her left hand, but they wouldn’t take them. Instead, she now had two livers and a spare spleen.

When her daughter arrived, pink and screaming, she gave up her right ventricle, her frontal lobe, her left hip. When she was three, she offered her right palm; when she was five, her left arm.

The woman did not notice the lack — learned to lift with her right arm, think from the back and pump pump pump from the left — and evolving, went on with her life — its ins and outs, its stops and starts, its march ever forward.

And then one day she awoke to find a flower where her palm had been, a vine in place of her arm. The woman felt an unfolding — in her heart, her brain, her hip — a blossoming, a becoming, a taking root.

With each piece of herself she gave away — to her colleague, to her neighbor, to the stranger at the store — a tooth, an eye, an ear — flora bloomed anew — a marigold, a lily, a rose. The woman was a garden. She turned her face to the sun whenever possible; she stood out in the rain with no regard for her shoes.

She had never felt so grounded. She had never felt so free.

When at last the woman was a patchwork of vegetation, save for her feet, she walked to the edge of her yard and called for her daughter. She was old now, the child a woman herself, life curling undetected inside.

The woman gazed at the girl — a woman, a daughter, a mother — and smiled, sunlight shining through her eyes. She stepped out of her feet, growing roots that burrowed down deep, soaking up rainwater and minerals and memories. Her arms — outstretched, unfurled, unburdened — her face forever to the sky.

Rachel Abbey McCafferty has been writing since she first learned that was a thing people could do. She’s a newspaper reporter in Ohio whose favorite questions are “what if” and “why.” Her flash fiction has appeared in journals like formercactus, The Ginger Collect and The Cabinet of Heed.



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