Margin: Exploring Modern Magical Realism

S H O R T   S T O R Y
b y   e l l e n    b e h r e n s   ~   d e w i t t,   m i c h i g a n

SHE WONDERED how long he would be gone—longer this time than last? His eyes, sometimes gray and sometimes green, swept her clean on leaving as though he needed to erase her face before he could go.

"I have so much feeling for you," she told him, "I don't know where to put it all."

Her feelings overflowed her, spilling out of her eyes and nose and mouth and fingertips and sometimes oozed from between her toes unless she wore shoes to hold them in. She stuffed her car trunk with her feelings for him, her glove box, too. All of the pockets of all her clothes were crammed with them. Her feelings filled up her house where they clashed with her furniture and delighted in hiding her remote control from her. They took over her office at work where they got in her way and nearly got her fired because of the distraction of them running around screaming all the time. They sat close to her, sometimes on her lap, bumping her elbows while she typed or knocking stuffed Workers' Comp files from her hands, scattering papers everywhere.

"I'm running out of places to put my feelings for you," she told him over the phone. She talked to him on her cordless phone while she swept up more of her feelings for him from the carpet and deposited them behind her antique china cabinet—the drawers and cupboards in it already full, of course, her heirloom place settings with 24-carat trim removed from it months ago, given over to a hated second cousin who'd always wanted them. "Things are really getting out of control here," she told him, but he was flattered and just couldn't see the mess it was making.

She tried giving her feelings for him away to people she knew but nobody wanted them. "They're your feelings," they said. "You should keep them."

So she placed a classified ad. "Sell anything with us!" the paper said, and she thought it was worth a try.

"Free to good homes: Feelings for a good but absent man. Enough for everyone. Call today," her ad said, but only one lady called, asking why anyone would want feelings for a man who was absent.

"No wonder you want to give them away for nothing," the lady said, and she had to think about that.

"They're taking up all this space," she said to the caller, but there was no making anyone understand.

She hired a crop duster and loaded it with her feelings and flew with the red-bearded pilot who let those feelings loose over cities and towns across a 200-mile radius.

"Wish someone had so many feelings for me they could spare a few," he said. "Must be nice to be cared about that much. Sure must be nice," he said, dropping another four hundred pounds of her feelings through the air.

When her man came back the next time, he could barely walk into her house.

"This place is a mess," he said. "What is all this crap everywhere?"

They crawled around him, nuzzling next to him, all colors and shapes and sizes. Some wanted to suffocate him, they were so happy to be close to him. He beat his hands against them, trying to ward them off.

"My feelings for you have taken over," she said. "I can't get rid of them, though I've tried."

He looked around the room, still batting his hands at the feelings flying at him from his blind side. He tried to count them all but there were too many and a few of them switched places on him so he couldn't be sure, anyway.

"This is just too much," he said. "You have to do something. You can't live like this."

"You're right," she said, but she didn't know what else to do.

In the next few days, though, maybe because he was nearby, her feelings for him let up a little, then a little more. She could walk barefoot in the house again, knowing she wouldn't leak feelings for him with every step. They faded from fluorescents to primaries to pastels and stopped chasing each other all over the furniture. They took more naps and nestled against her while she watched television. But they were still everywhere, and she dreaded him going away again because she knew it would only get worse with his absence.

"Take them with you," she begged him, hiding some of those feelings in his luggage, tucking them into the pockets along the sides he never used. "Please," she said. "It'll make me crazy to be left here alone with them."

So he packed an extra bag for her feelings and with every journey away from her after that he took more and more. He chartered busses and private planes and gradually her feelings for him cleared up. She didn't know where he took them when he went or what he did with them, and she didn't want to know. Didn't want to know the truth if the truth was bad.

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