Writer in Residence ยท 06/03/2010

Tom Jane

And then my thumb just kept going. The children were playing outside and making noise, and my wife was in the kitchen reorganizing the pots and pans, and it just seemed easy to make it keep going.

I would describe it as eighty percent resistance and twenty percent ‘wet give.’ Once it was in I got scared and pulled my arm away, a natural reaction, but my thumb was fixed in a hooked position and it came out with it. It was quiet after I did that.

Medically, all that could be done was done. I still have this though, and that is fine.

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I made noises in the house if the house was empty. I opened my mouth as wide as I can for a few seconds, and saw a fake scream coming out that was so loud, and then I would scream. It’s mostly disappointing but it feels better than not opening my mouth which is what I do most of the time.

I try to make it clear, and one note. And solid sounding. No rasp. Hollow, holler.

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The month after we lost Lucky that I started falling. He died and at his funeral I felt really big, standing over his body in the casket, and even when I put it on his chest, his chest the size of one of my palms, I felt giant. I could tell he was blue. I pointed that out to her.

The first came in the kitchen when my wife was outside with the other one, and cooking was happening on the stove and in the oven and on the counter, and my legs are numb, or, didn’t feel, I didn’t feel them at all and I went down and my right shoulder caught a frying pan that spun and slid off the stove and onto my head, where it clanged, and the boiling sauce and cutlets were out and landed on my face, mostly. Still have the scars to prove it. A shape sat on my face for at least three to five minutes, and, before my wife came in, because when she picked it up off my face it was already cool.

Scars to prove it.

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Ken Baumann is. For more information, visit kenbaumann.com.

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posted by Roxane Gay