Substitute Angel

Devin Strauch

She’s in the shower and washing away her old apartment when she finds the first strand of angel hair. It slumps from her scalp, pretending to belong. She rolls it between her fingers and then traces it up, feeling where it connects with her skin. By the time she finds the courage to pluck it from herself, the water is cold and she’s shaking and the pain doesn’t surprise her, but she isn’t quite ready for it. She chews on the soft noodle and wonders if her new boyfriend has a magic apartment or if maybe her body is just changing realities, to one where hair is spaghetti and spaghetti is hair. She worries that maybe she got so lost in her old head and old apartment and old boyfriend that even old lunches have fused to her skin. Mainly though, she wonders if her new boyfriend likes pasta.

Months pass and soon she finds her fingers sneaking through her regular hair to feel the growing mass underneath, like a bowl of brains on Halloween. She worries her boyfriend will find out, so she started cutting it off every morning after he leaves for the day. She slices the thin pasta off, naked and alone in the bathroom. She watches it drop into the toilet and down the drain. Their pipes are starting to clog from the wheat, but her boyfriend already asked why their trash was always full of the odd noodles, so she has no where else to dump the angel hair.

It’s not until she cuts her finger with the blade and instinctively sucks on the wound that she notices her blood is starting to taste less like copper and more like tomatoes. By then their toilet has stopped working, so she’s been cutting her noodles into plastic bowls and hiding them deep in the fridge, past the rotting lettuce and forgotten strawberries.

Her boyfriend loses his job and she’s already lost hers, forever ago before her nail clippings would turn into parmesan cheese.

“We’re fucked,” he says, coming home and opening a beer and slouching on the couch.

“We’ll be okay,” she says.

“How are you going to live? How are we going to eat?”

She wants them both to eat the pasta, her pasta, but she feels it’s something he has to ask of her first, something she can’t offer without him recognizing it, wanting it, demanding it.

“I guess you’re right,” she says, wishing he would bite into her. “We’re fucked.”

DEVIN STRAUCH is a writing undergrad at Metro State University in Denver, graduating Fall ’14. He likes to take apart computers and get lost in rivers.

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