Psychopomp Magazine Summer 2015 - Page 6

Jaclyn Watterson

Charlie's Kidney

I. Introducing Charlie

That winter, so many animals and people froze to death the state began distributing their carcasses for meat, and I fought every dervish for Charlie. That winter of 19--, the competition nearly secured Charlie Habsburg’s affections.

Charlie—possessor of palaces and countries, various exotic birds and expensive furnitures, and generations of breeding—was the most eligible bachelor that century. All we girls wanted.

His jaw.

His limbs.

His skull.

Singular to his breeding, wealth, and dominance.

We watched him with the passion of eggplants—we knew he would wed one of us, and the lucky girl would dab his famous jaw with a cloth, sopping up royal drool within the winter palace.

Our envy was compounded by the winter palace being a one-bedroom apartment in the center of the historic district in our small city. The future Mrs. Habsburg could count on this, and as the winter lasted through, so too did each of our resolves. To be—Mrs. Habsburg!

My own resolve was founded on certainty and mistrust. No stranger to my mother and married sisters, I had just achieved my seventeenth year, and I was not willing. Therefore, I stood in line Saturday morning, two-hundred deep, for my chance at a curtsy directed toward Charlie Habsburg.

II. The curtsy did not win him

Charlie kept a trained assistant, Dot, and the flourish at the end of my curtsy revealed for her my finishing school background.

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