Prompt Day #129: Write about a character who has a peculiar problem: a body part keeps falling off and it’s embarrassing the hell out of him/her.
The Headless Husband
“You’d lose your head if it weren’t attached.” His wife said shaking her own well affixed noggin and handing him his keys. He snatched them away irritated. He wasn’t a child after all. She didn’t need to speak to him that way. He just had a lot on his mind lately.
He ran into the bathroom to brush his teeth and could hear her still muttering on about how careless he was. He rolled his eyes. There was a moment of vertigo as if his eyes were rolling on their own and then it stopped. Everything was still again but the view had changed. He wasn’t looking in the mirror anymore. In fact, he seemed to have found himself lying on the floor. Someone, a man—a paramedic maybe—was standing beside him. Had he passed out? Of God, was it a stroke? Where was Lisa? Why was it so quiet in the room? If this was a paramedic standing in front of him, why wasn’t he doing anything?
He tried to get up and he realized he couldn’t get up because it was only his head on the ground and the feet he was staring at were his own. He willed his body to pick himself up. It stumbled around the bathroom, hands reaching out blindly, patting the sink, the wall, the floor and finally poking himself in the eye before picking his head up. He again had to imagine how he wanted his head positioned before trying to replace it. He had no idea exactly how it attached. There was no pain, and as far as he could see, no blood. His hands set his head back onto his neck. They wiggled and pushed it until he heard as well as felt a popping similar to the way a vertebrae pops back into place and that was it. His head was again in its rightful place. Just then, Lisa shoved the door open and barged in.
“You’re gonna be late, Steve!” She yelled. “Just like a child, I swear!”
“Yeah, Yeah. I’m going” He said. He couldn’t get out of there soon enough. She did not need to know about what just happened and if it happened again, he didn’t want her to see. That would be all he’d need after all.
The subway was unusually crowded and he couldn’t find a seat. He stood holding the pole and tried not to get irritated as people jostled into him, stepped on his feet or shoved their backpacks in his face. He was about to say something when the train came to a stop and that dizzy feeling began. Oh no he thought as his head hit the floor of the car. Mass chaos immediately ensued. He tried to yell over the screams of the crowd that everything was ok and please no body move. He watched as his own feet got shoved further and further away.
“No!” He yelled “Come back!” He was sending telepathic messages to the confused and headless body now being jostled back and forth like a pin ball. He got kicked in the face and his head went spinning. He expected to get nauseated from the spinning but no. When he stopped moving, he found himself closer to the feet he was 99% sure were his own. He couldn’t look up to be sure.
“Can anyone help me?” he called. He could see that there did not seem to be any other feet near his. They’re probably all backed away on the other side of the car, freaked out. He thought.
“Listen, it’s fine. I’m fine. Obviously, my head doesn’t seem to be well attached. But it’ll go right back on, I swear. It happened to me before.” He could hear the gasps and murmurs. Well, if he was gonna get his head on straight, it looked like it was up to him alone. He used the same mind trick he’d used in the bathroom; he closed his eyes and visualized how his head needed to be picked up so it could be replaced. He saw the hands coming for him. He kept the image in his head, eyes closed to better keep the image clear until he felt the familiar pop into place. He opened his eyes and there he was, standing alone in an otherwise crowded subway car. The other passengers stared and then began clapping, assuming he had just performed an elaborate magic trick. Some even came up and handed him money as if he was a common street performer and not a senior ad executive. He was shocked and embarrassed and even irritated with them for not helping. He almost rolled his eyes, but caught himself in time. He stood motionless for the rest of the trip, too concerned about losing his head again to move.
Steve sat in his first of three meetings. He kept forgetting about his little problem and found himself leaning his chin on his fist. Then he would remember and sit up straight. The last thing he needed was to lose his head at work. The second meeting was a big one for him. His presentation on a big ad campaign his team had been working on. If their ad got chosen, he was a shoe-in for a promotion.
His presentation was well received and he busied himself shaking hands with the board members. He didn’t see his boss coming up behind him or he might have been able to stop the man before he had a chance to give Steve a hardy pat on the back. But he only felt the first pat before the now familiar spinning sensation followed him down. This time, however, it didn’t last long at all. He tried to look around but his face was smooshed up against the belly of the man he’d last shook hands with. The man who had out of instinct caught Steve’s head as it flew off his body and into the air.
“Oh shit!” Steve heard the man say and then felt his head flaying up and into the air before again landing short of the floor. His head was now nestled in the hands of his boss but only long enough for the man to realize what he too had caught instinctually before shooting his head up and out. They were playing hot potato with his head. He was aware of his body’s location. It was a strange type of proprioception—as if his entire body had been injected with Novocain. He knew it was there but somehow couldn’t really feel it either. It was hard to concentrate on telling the dream-like body to catch a volleyball sized flying object that it could not see but he needed this to stop immediately.
Somehow, he caught it, locked it into place (he was getting pretty good at it actually) and grinned sheepishly around at the group.
“Sorry about that everyone.” He paused. He had no idea why this was happening, so what excuse could he offer? “I…uh…Well, I do some magic in my spare time and I had rather foolishly considered showing you this trick as part of my presentation but changed my mind at the last minute. Unfortunately, I didn’t properly…uh…deactivate it, so I apologize if I frightened or shocked you in any way.” He felt the heat rising in his cheeks. Just let me get through this and I’ll make a doctor’s appointment. He thought.
“Yes, well, it was a bit shocking Steven, and you obviously made the right decision not to perform any stunts for your presentation. It would have and has in fact marred what would otherwise have been a very impressive proposal.” His boss said. And once everyone agreed and left in an uncomfortable silence, turned to Steve. “I think you need to get this little problem of yours taken care of. Will six weeks mandatory leave do the trick? Pardon the pun, of course. I do not want to see anything like that again, understood?”
Steve nodded—gently. “Yes sir.”
He arrived home exhausted, frustrated and confused. All he could think of was crawling into bed and trying hard to forget the day had ever happened. He trudged up the stairs trying not to stomp. Opening the door to the bedroom, he smelled the candles before he saw them, burning away. Lisa lay on the bed, wearing some strange contraption of leather straps and lace.
“Well hey there, Handsome.” She said, rolling onto her side. “How did your presentation go today? You get that big promotion? I’m sure you did, so I thought we could celebrate” She gestured at the candles, ran her hands up her leg and winked at him.
“Oh God Lisa.” He said taking his suit coat and tie off and then unbuttoning his shirt. “I’m really not in the mood, It’s been an unbelievably strange day and” he began to unzip his fly
“What? Did you lose your dick this time?” She said already irritated with his rejection
“Shit, No! Don’t say that.” He yelled just before he heard something thump on the floor at his feet.