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By Melissa Mulvihill

There was a time when I didn’t know what was mine.

For example, I’ve wanted to cut open the fat that rolled over my C-Section scars pretty much every day for 21 years, and I’m not talking about the kind of insightful cutting that has occurred when I needed to cut something open so I could see what it lived on.

I treated my fat roll like it belonged to me in the way a cavity belongs to a tooth, when really, the whole time, it was evidence of the sweetest thing I have ever done.

Who among us hasn’t wanted to kill the sweetest thing?

I remember after my bladder reimplantation surgery, when the nurse came in to take out my drain, I wanted to tell her, hurry up about this, because I’m done with having a 12-inch incision cut into me and also a drain sticking out of me.

I had spent a week refusing to look at that drain, but also wanting to be sorry about it.

I do that though, not look at things. I spent all of fourth grade not looking at Sister Alphonsus.

She was the kind of woman who made it abundantly clear that you do not want to make eye contact with her. I spent my time apologizing to her, and then apologizing for apologizing, but all without looking at her.

I had the same relationship with my fat roll. I can’t possibly look at whatever you are, but I’ll sure as fuck be sorry about it.

I could have done it if I had wanted to, spoken to my fat roll, I mean. But as sometimes happens, my roll of fat melted away before I had managed to learn that I am entirely free to say anything that I want. That is to say, in the last year, my fat roll gave itself away to something that was completely focused on it and that would speak to it incessantly, with love and devotion and rapt attention.

This went on until last Thursday, when I realized that sometime between my liquid diet and my shortness of breath, my little sorrowful house of fat had permanently left me.

I gazed down at myself, and so much of me was gone, that I had to say, now my fat roll is something of mine that has turned to nothing.

Once a hundred-dollar bill just disappeared from my grasp at some unidentified point in space and time.

We had been at The Snook Inn Gift Shop on Marco Island. I was loaded with Lamby and Cold Blankey and Soft Blankey and also with our one-year-old, and it was too loud and too crowded for our six-year-old, whose stuffed crocodile, Rainy, really wanted to leave the gift shop, and I was trying to judge the sizes of sweatshirts with sweat pouring from every pour of my existence.

When I lined up to pay for my merchandise, I noticed that my hand that had not taken the time to put the hundred-dollar bill safely away in the diaper bag, was now not holding anything at all.

I searched the floor of the entire gift shop, although this was a lot of money to us, the loss was not in the amount. The loss was that something of mine had turned to nothing, because I didn’t know where to put valuable things.

As I was writing this, I lost the letters t and h in the word ‘thing.’

For my whole life, my ts and hs have been something, and then in a single pen mark, they turned to nothing, just like my hundred-dollar bill in the Snook Inn Gift Shop.

My pen made a downstroke, a single line, and then I couldn’t decide what my pen was doing, what the line was, or what the line should be.

Right off, I knew this was wrong.

Wrong, like when I am walking and I begin to misstep, and I am falling through the air, and I know that I’m going to land, because everyone who falls has to land, and even before I’ve completed the fall, or even before I’ve planned how to think about what it’s going to be like to fall, there’s a flash of knowing exactly what it was that I missed. At that point, though, there’s no room for understanding because the ground is rushing up and it’s hard, and it’s coming fast, and I know I’m going to slam into it.

I know there is going to be a teeth-jarring, bone bruising impact.

And, there was.

It took my breath away.

I just forgot which letter, t or h, that came first in the word ‘thing.’

The whole thing happened so fast.

First there was something there. And then, there was not.

Just like with my roll of fat.

So, I gather my ‘t’s’ and ‘h’s’ and I move them far very far away from my frontal lobe.

I put them far away.

These things of mine.


Melissa Mulvihill writes poetry, creative non-fiction, and fiction that explore themes related to impermanence, family relationships, and living with progressive illness. Recently, she has had prose/poetry published with Tangled Locks Journal, Anti-Heroin Chic Magazine, Miniskirt Magazine, and TMP Magazine.

Long ago she graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in psychology and from John Carroll University with an M.A. in counseling. She is retired from homeschooling and from counseling, and lives with her husband, who is an attorney and who gets that meaning in living comes from the differences between what you expect to find and what you actually find when you look. She has words forthcoming with Misery Tourism, Full House Literary, and Wishbone Words. You can find her at, on Twitter, and on Instagram.


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