Loving Him to Pieces [cw: body horror] Arthur glanced at Lilith’s swimmer’s arms–again. Long, toned and lovely shades of gray. She’d been driving for hours, steering stiffly on the snowy mountain roads. Her horsey smile widened. “Now that we’re married, I’m all yours.” A sun ray flickered off her wedding band. “Right?” “Yes, my heart. Forever—bound in sickness and in death.” His own fingers, long and those of a pianist, caressed the dry skin of her knee. “Shall we stop to let you rest?” A road sign warning of slippery death flashed by. “No, no. I’m too on edge about tonight.” Tonight, their honeymoon night, would be about surrendering and relinquishing. She would be his first. His heart would be hers and hers his. Yes, her heart was from an Olympian, but her legs—if only his priest’s brain would shut off about this —belonged to a lady-of-the-night. Awful! It wasn’t his business. Not really. Insecurities high, he couldn’t resist. “Would you say I’m attractive?” Her laugh filled their car— —sharply, she twisted the wheel, avoiding a section of broken metal barrier. An abandoned car lay in the white valley below and past that—first glimpses of ice shining off the sagging roof of their hotel. The Colonial Revival façade was magnificent. Curtains billowed from broken windows lashing the falling snow. As they approached, Lilith finally answered. “Yes, Arthur, you are gorgeously handsome.” They parked on the front lawn. Dry branches wove around towering columns. When he lifted her out of the car, the weight of Lilith’s head pleasantly dug into his shoulder. Slowly, he shuffled toward the entrance, careful not to slip. God! He loved her body, heavy with electricity and substance. The glass door fell in cascades of shards and ice as he brought her through the entrance to the lobby. Icicles hung like ancient chandeliers. He kissed her forehead, cold on his lips as he placed her down. “It’s so wild. So abandoned. So us here.” The lone valley echoed with Lilith’s words. He ran back to retrieve the rest of their things. When he returned, Lilith was already part way up the grand staircase—the carpet in blood red rose toward an exposed sky. “Don’t you want to see where we’re staying?” That wasn’t exactly what he wanted to see most. Her eagerness stirred his poet’s heart. Turned his holy brain all kinds of nervous. “Of course. Yes.” He caught up, and they found their way to the abandoned room. The yellowed paisley wallpaper peeled in shreds around her. “It’s perfect.” Perfect for their night of Coming Undone. Near midnight, the room crackled with sultry ambiance. Light oozed from thirteen purple candles. Lips tight, eyes wide, hands shaking, Arthur laid out the cards on the mattress for strip poker. Lilith, her white dress riding above the scars in her knees, revealing forty shades of grey, had already given up her stockings and garters. “Five hearts. Flush.” She laid down her cards, face up and stared eagerly his way. “Oh, Great Lord Almighty!” How he needed the sacrament of confession. “Just a pair of hearts for me.” His shirt slid off exposing a rippled torso. Modesty brought a blush to his cheeks when he caught Lilith gazing at the scars near his shoulders. She reached toward them— “No. No. No. Patience, was never your virtue, dear heart.” She kneeled back, smiling. Arthur needed a distraction. Brow furrowed, he dealt again. A joker. Now, if luck would only fall his way, soon he’d get to see underneath her facade. Was she pure? Quiet, brain. Listen to the heart. His straight was no match for her four-of-a-kind diamonds. “Shoot! I surrender.” “Hand over your hand.” “Better.” He twisted his limb to the left. “For you, darling–the whole arm.” Her fingers seized his shoulder and tugged at the sutures. Each thread pulled at the skin, puckering the flesh, until his right arm, strong and muscular, fell between them. The skin near the incision dangled loose and torn. Fingers twitching, Arthur’s arm crawled toward Lilith’s crossed legs. He continued to explore above her right knee, before weaving his fingers in hers and resting the arm across her lap. Down to one hand, he still managed a riffle-shuffle. “Another round?” “Until there’s none.” Her hands locked around his. Deuces wild. An easy win for Lilith with her two of hearts alongside the two kings. “Love is blind. Your left eye, please.” No! But he opened wide letting her tug and rotate, until his eye popped and rolled into her fingers. “Careful with that—it came from an artist.” But he knew by the way she held the orb, like a small chick, that it was in good hands. “Hit me.” Ace of diamonds. Her voice hoarse, eager. “Hit me again.” Eight of spades. “One more time.” Was she throwing the game? “Oh shoot. Five of clubs.” His fingers, caressed her knee. “You are stalling, no?” Shyly, Lilith glanced over. “Well, what is it? Are you a breast man or a leg man?” He’d been desperate to stroke her inner thigh Sin! Sin! Sin! He’d wait, stay patient. “I’ll take the dress.” She lifted it slowly exposing skin and sexy scars. His fingers grazed her overly puckered lips. “Next round, I’m taking the best part.” A pink tinge spread beneath her cheeks. “You know the doc didn’t get my teeth right.” “It was a really good-looking horse.” He loved her so. They played on, and he quickly won the round. “How about I give you my whole head, Arthur?” “I’d love to hold it in my hands.” “Well then, let’s unscrew.” She rested his hand on the bed and lifted her arms. Both hands to her ears and eight turns later, the stitches near her neck tendons popped, freeing Lilith’s head. Her hair, long and flowing, brushed against his grey abs. She blinked at him through his fingers. “I could rest here forever.” “You could, but then you couldn’t kiss your new husband.” And he lifted his head to be near hers, where cold lips against cold lips created heat. They’d never been this exposed and never in so many pieces. Did this mean the same thing to her? What was left? His arm? His leg? Another eye? She was no shy girl, his bride. He’d give her his brain next if it would stop these judgmental thoughts. After his head, came her arm then his other leg. They carried on until limbs tangled, heads rolled, and all parts were explored, felt, held, and they’d completely fallen apart. Her arm rested against his hair. His arm against hers. Their hearts in each other’s hands. His eye watched from the corner. In pieces, how he wanted to be. Mixed up with her—forever. “Lilith, whatever you say, is alright. But is this your first time?” “Sure, I’ve been torn apart. Left in pieces.” They lay quietly dripping, bathed in moonlight. His hand lifted her hand, and reattached it to her arm. She threaded a needle and worked with the skin in his neck to attach his head. Gently, piece by piece, they sewed each part back. When Arthur returned Lilith’s heart, she said, “But never, has anyone put me together.”
Beeper Peddle is a writer and healer living on the East Coast. She lives with her partner and their beloved soul puppy. Beeper writes about sorrows, lies, and deep loves. When you read her work, you will dip down into her heart and end up in all manner of body parts. Should you find yourself reflected in these words, it is merely coincidence; however, it does not surprise her you share the same heart. Find her at bethpeddle.com and @beeperpeddle on Twitter and Instagram
Joanna Friedman‘s fiction and poetry has appeared in a variety of anthologies and on-line publications. She works as a psychologist in the San Francisco Bay area and lives with her husband, twin girls, and the spirit of her pug dog, Blue. Follow her on twitter, @j_grabarek or her website, https://joannafriedman.wordpress.com/.