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August 20, 2023

Apron Strings

Christina Rosso

Our husband inspires my creation on a Sunday night after he tells Lucretia she is only half the wife she’s supposed to be. His words tangle me in knots and burs. Lucretia twirls her pointer finger through me, a nervous habit of hers. I never judge; I am there to be styled, twisted and curled, steamed and slicked back. She goes upstairs and gently shuts the door. I know she imagines herself stomping up those stairs and slamming the bedroom door. Thanks to no-good lover boy, she has been stripped away to a paper doll wife.

In the bathroom, she slides a hairbrush through me, pausing to work out any knots. When she is done, she begins to pull the discarded parts of me from the plastic bristles with the intent to discard. Yet tonight she pauses, replaying the cruel words our husband spouted. You are only half the wife you were supposed to be. An idea sparks like a match in her mind. She continues to pull my strands from her brush and then she sets to work.

Lucretia fluffs and twists and shapes, her tongue clucking as she works. She has never created someone from scratch before, her talents diminished to pot pies and cakes and muffins, her apron strings digging into her flesh as she labors.

My little body lies on the bathroom vanity. Lucretia laughs when she’s completed me, the outburst sure to alert our husband to her activities. Lucretia clamps her hand over her mouth, terror clouding her eyes. This is when I make my move, flexing my limbs and noodling until I can stand. “Allow me,” I tell her. “Allow me to handle our husband.”

The fear slips from her eyes and she nods. I tell her to put on a face mask and go to bed. She thanks me and says goodnight.

Once her breathing becomes a soft rhythm, I open the door to our bedroom and move into the second-floor landing. I whistle to our husband, call him lover boy, tell him I have a big surprise for him. Tell him I am going to show him just how much of a wife I am.

I wait in position, on the top of the banister. Press my wiry body to the wood, knowing a man like him never sees his wives. When he reaches the top of the landing, I tell him to close his eyes and open wide. I watch him tongue his gums, his thin, chapped lips. I am going to enjoy what happens next.

I latch onto his arm, using his hair follicles as rope. “Ooh, something scratchy,” he purrs as I climb. I slink along his collarbone, tickling his throat with my coarse strands.

“You like that?” I ask.

“Yes, oh, yes,” he says. “I love it.”

“Open wide, lover boy,” I say before stuffing myself down his throat. His esophagus stretches and contracts, trying to pump me out. He chokes and spits and grasps at thin air, his foot slipping as he crashes down the stairs. I cuddle up inside his gullet, blocking out his life. I can feel it. He’s almost gone now. I wish I could see Lucretia awaken to the sound of my creation, watch the joy spread from her teeth to her cheeks to her eyes as she witnesses the symphony of our husband’s deconstruction.