Someone cut off my hands and sewed them back on wrong. Whoever they are, they're hopeless with a needle and thread. The skin of my wrists is bunched up like folded fabric frills, like pleated schoolgirl skirt, like I'm wearing lacy opera gloves.
On the stage below, a blonde soprano in a black Breakfast at Tiffany's gown sings about people hacking themselves free from felled trees or collapsed buildings. The plump singer removes her prosthetic hand; she sings a prolonged high note as she throws the artificial appendage into the fake cardboard trees of the painted scenery. She then unscrews the bejeweled hook hand nested inside her prosthetic hand like a Matryoshka doll and tosses it, too, over the one-dimensional treetops.
I look down at my hands and see them coming apart at the sloppy-threaded seams. You can see the muscle and bone inside, like a birthday cake after the first slice has been cut.
These hands are not my own, but they're the only ones I've got.
Cat got your tongue?
I push my fingers inside my mouth to check. No. I touch two tongues, thick and slippery, stacked like overdue library books one on top of the other.
I got my own tongue.
Out of the corner of my eye, I catch a movement. I grab the mouse by its tail and bring it close to my face.
I dreamed I was the hunter and you the prey, I tell it.
The mouse replies, We're all the hunter and we're all the prey.
I drop the mouse back down. I'm no longer hungry.
"You're sick," he says. "You're sick, but I'll make you better."
He wets a sponge and dabs it across my fevered forehead. Spoons some sort of acidic liquid into my mouth. There are cloth restraints around my wrists and ankles. The cherrywood bedframe creaks every time my lungs swell in a breath like kites along airwaves.
"It's for your own good," he says and places a kiss on my sweaty hair.
"Dear husband," my disembodied lips utter against my will, "Please sedate me."
His footsteps draw away, echoing through the castle corridors. He's bringing me more of that vile medicine, and I don't want it. I don't.
Outside, a bird knocks on my window. Its feathers an electric blue. It's here to warn me, or perhaps to gloat. Despite the heaviness of my eyelids, I gnash my teeth at it. The bluebird drops a half-eaten worm on the windowsill before flying away.
I hold my breath and wait for Bluebeard to return.
Avra Margariti is a queer Social Work undergrad from Greece. She enjoys storytelling in all its forms and writes about diverse identities and experiences. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Daily Science Fiction, The Forge Literary, The Colored Lens, Argot Magazine, The Arcanist, and other venues.