A Trio of Shorts from Aaron Burch's forthcoming chapbook
How To Take Yourself Apart, How To Make Yourself Anew
Grow antlers. Focus, visualize. Apply a balm or lotion to the base. Prepare for the added weight but be ready to adjust. It never happens or feels quite as you'd expect, nor all at once. Balancing can be tricky, like learning to walk all over again for the first time. Be proud. Stand straight, or as straight as possible. Knock them around a little, rough them up. Rub them on trees, the walls of your bedroom. Be proud. Exude pride. Feel at home, finally, as yourself.
Make yourself like a piece of paper: crease, fold corner to corner, half, quarter. Tuck piece A into newly-created slot B. Begin to recognize the reproduction of yourself. Pull tight like you barely, but perfectly, fit. Slide into yourself like a glove. Like a mitt. Remember the first baseman's glove you got as a present in fourth grade, though you wanted to play third base. How you'd worn that glove always, tried to make it a part of you. How your hand had been most comfortable under that mitt, something secured in its webbing: a baseball; your other hand, made into fist, clapping into it; collected and balled-up paper. Wrap around yourself like that, like the baseball in the first baseman's mitt for the final out. Fold in tight and small, like a paper crane's origami heart.
On bring-your-kid-to-work day, I stare at my computer, my cubicle walls. I remember going to work with my dad when I was little-on days off from school or special occasions when my parents would write me a note. He'd drive me around the city in his truck, introduce me to everyone he knew and worked with. Everyone seemed to love him; they grew big smiles as soon as they saw him approaching. It made me proud. Some days, he had to go to the dump and those trips were my favorite-watching the truck bed lift as he pushed a button, helping sweep out what didn't fall. The big hills of trash that seemed like magic. I don't travel, don't even get up and walk around much. There's nothing magical like the dump.
Aaron Burch has had stories appear in New York Tyrant, Barrelhouse, Another Chicago Magazine, and Quick Fiction, among others, and a full-length collection of short shorts,How to Predict the Weather, is forthcoming from Keyhole Books. He is the editor of Hobart.