The Machinery of Self
by William Wood
The pattern cut into crystal goblet looks like teeth. Ready to chew me up. Just like a hundred times before. Or a thousand.
I can’t remember.
Light snags in each crystal facet and the wine shimmers, blood red. Who will I be tonight? What have you programmed for me, you fat bastard? Sitting across the table, sweat beading on your forehead, eyes wide.
Will I be the trailer trash cheerleader from high school that snickered at your invitation to the prom or maybe just your wife, but with cravings to do the things you only dream of at home?
My pulse is slow, my breathing steady. Lies. I shudder but you probably think I’m excited, eager to begin.
Will my chest swell, my belly, my biceps? Will I laugh or cry, Mister Wednesday Night? Will the tiny machines swimming in that glass ever make me…me again?
What did I do to deserve this? To be rebuilt every night into someone new, someone else. To more than just look the part. To be the part. To want to do the things you’ve paid for.
What did I do? I don’t remember. Probably rewritten or lost.
Is it the rush of watching me become someone else that makes you spend your pretty family’s money?
You’re squirming in your chair, glancing around. Time is money.
I scream in my head but my arm reaches for the glass and I swallow. Fire erupts in my veins and I begin to laugh.
[William Wood lives in an old farmhouse in the Blue Ridge Mountains with a patient and understanding family. He frequently writes instead of sleeping.]