My ear fell off yesterday. I was combing my hair, and I bumped my ear, and it fell off into the sink. When I picked it up, the lobe crumbled away under my thumb, but the shell of the ear stayed intact.
“See, I’m dead,” I told my mother that afternoon, having stopped by specifically to show her my ear, which I’d wrapped in wax paper and tied with string.
“No,” she replied. “You’re simply down an ear, Jonah.” She lifted her hand so I could see her fingers. Her index finger was half-gone, had been all my life. “I’ve been down half a finger since I was six and tried to help my father clear the lawn mower blades. Being down a digit or piece of your head doesn’t mean you’re deceased. You’re just slightly used. It’s the natural state of the human body.”
I looked at my ear. It was sitting on the coffee table, the wax paper beneath it, almost exactly centered between my mother and I. “I don’t breathe,” I told her.
“It’s because you talk too fast,” she said. “Think before you talk, and you’ll breathe better.”
“I don’t sweat.”
“It’s winter, dear. No one sweats in winter.”
“I didn’t eat all last summer.”
“It was too hot to eat last summer. I dropped ten pounds not eating last summer.”
“I’m dead, Mom.”
“You are not, Jonah.”
I unbuttoned my shirt and showed her the hole in my chest from the gunshot wound that had killed me. A .22 caliber bullet fired from a pistol. It had exited out my back in a slightly bigger hole. “You can see through me.”
She waved me off. “Everyone can, dear. You’re a bad liar.”
“I’m so happy when you visit,” she interrupted. “It’s always so nice to see you. I miss you when you’re gone.”
“I know,” I said. “I miss you, too,” I added. “But, Mom, we really have to talk about this.”
“Oh, what’s to talk about?”
“My ear fell off. There’s a hole in my chest.”
“You know your great-grandfather lost a piece of his left leg in the war? He had an indention an inch deep for the rest of his life, and he lived until he was 94.”
“And I’ll probably live longer than that. Even missing half an index finger. So you’ll surely outlive us both, with a hole and a missing ear.”
“You’ll outlive us both,” she repeated. “Children always outlive their parents.”
“Tell Marie I say hello,” Mom interrupted. “She never comes with you anymore.”
Marie was my wife. She’d been shot dead alongside me. The mugger who’d done it had gotten away with forty-three dollars and her imitation gold watch. But her family had grieved and moved on, accepted it. My mother refused to believe, to see what was right in front of her, light shining through me that she wouldn’t follow to the other side.
“When I see her,” I said. “I’ll tell her.”
BIO: Gayle Francis Moffet writes prose, poetry, and comics. She grew up in Yellville, Arkansas, spent some time in Springfield, Missouri, and then moved to Portland, Oregon with her husband. She has had fiction published in Daily Love, Weird Year, and Milk Sugar Literature. She keeps a news blog at gaylefmoffet.com.