I was the amazing human Post-It Note. I had paper skin and money hands. Prisha was the pretty woman who worked in the cubicle across from me. She was plump and wore a cinnamon perfume. I ran calculated risk analytics chained to my desk on our gray forty-seventh floor. Prisha spoke into a headset with a put-on smile on her face.
I was born at Synthique, Blacksite 17. Prisha was the daughter of an Indian man and Irish woman who moved here two decades back and opened up a pottery store. I was raised Ed P.R. Schumann, after the doctor who had often frowned and shown me presents he’d bought for his teenage daughter. He had taken his own life with a .22 during the raid.
One day I was sitting at my desk whittling down my paper money fingers on the keys of my computer; I was worried because three more George Washington faces were almost gone. I etched notes into the expanse of my flat, light yellow body until it was almost black. Prisha spoke into her headset and rubbed her eyes. I could see her crying. I could never hear what she was saying. That morning, she’d brought me coffee, and I’d put my flat, cartoonish face against my glass to drink it through my diamond-patterned air holes — twenty-seven total, I had counted — precision-laser-cut.
Then there was the accident. A bomb. A terrible thing. Red-haired Denton had become disgruntled running base relative value reports for Robert McKinley. He had made a homemade death mixture of soap and gas and set it off the floor below. I guess he felt life wasn’t worth living any more. It killed thirteen people. It tore a hole in Alberta’s young-at-heart. It split our gray-tiled floor to pieces so it looked like a scattered deck of cards.
I could see Charles, who worked next to Prisha, killed instantly from a jagged piece of metal in his skull. I was sad because I’d always quite liked Charles. The force hurled Prisha through the windows of the forty-seventh floor, and she must have felt like she was being lifted by the unseen hand of God her parents always argued over. It may even have seemed fitting, in the end.
The explosion broke my glass and singed the edges of my paper abdomen. I picked up a piece of ceiling tile. I broke the rest of my chains off my paper wrists.
Well, what do you think I did, among the smoke and fire? All the stillborn screams? I could hardly tell you; I could barely think. What I did was I dove out the broken window. I unfurled my body and felt the wind streams take me up. I felt like a flying squirrel. I pulled my paper arms toward me and plummeted. I understood now why I had been made this way.
I grabbed Prisha by the shoulders with flexible paper feet. I grabbed her hands in mine, and they felt soft and slick. I struggled to hold on. I parachuted down across the cityscape. Money leaflets tore off from my arms and legs and flittered down over the buildings like a ticker-tape parade.
Prisha’s eyes lit up with horror and excitement.
I guess we were falling.
“Don’t drop me,” she said. “Don’t drop me!”
I was there to lift her up. She was there to ground me.
In other words, we started a traditional relationship!
At EllianceLife. In 1992!
I said, “Guess I’m worth something after all!” Money kept on peeling from my arms and legs and fluttering to the streets below.
She looked up. “At least you’re letting me down easy!”
I was flaking bits of paper. They were pouring down around us. My arms hurt. My body was being torn to pieces.
We landed and looked at one another and we smiled.
I was torn to ribbons on the grass!
I set her down. She picked me up.
We watched the sun set over a blackened skyline, beyond the soot-choked hills, burning scraps of paper money raining over the poor houses in the north.
IAN SACKS is a 2012 creative writing graduate. He has lived in Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin, which makes him the most accidentally Midwestern person he knows.