by Eleanor Stewart
‘I’ve got too many bones,’ Aisha said, stretching herself out in front of the mirror, counting her ribs.
‘There are too many bones in my body. Can’t you feel them?’
Stanley pressed his fingers onto the parts of her she pointed at, and felt the hard bone ripple under her papery skin.
‘I don’t think there are too many,’ said Stanley, quietly. ‘I think it’s just right.’
‘I can feel my teeth growing,’ Aisha moaned, sinking back into the sofa. ‘They hurt!’
‘Shall I get you some tea?’ Stanley said.
‘What good will that do?’
She twisted about as if in terrible agony, her white body stark against dark fabrics. Stanley watched her eyes. He trembled when they touched him.
‘There are too many bones!’ she wailed. ‘I can’t fit them all in. This body will never work.’
She strode around the room, thighs quivering. Stanley longed to hold her.
‘What are you staring at?’ she said, ‘Can’t you see there’s something wrong? There’s something terribly, terribly wrong.’
Aisha sat counting her bones. She found every bone in her body and drew a map on paper. Long lines, painstakingly etched. A perfect reproduction of what a skeleton is supposed to look like. She looked up how many bones there were meant to be in the human ear.
‘How many can you see?’ she demanded, as Stanley shone a torch inside her head.
In the morning, she pulled at her teeth and complained that they hurt.
When Stanley tried to hold her, she sobbed.
‘I’ll die soon,’ she said, and left to drink ice water to dull the pain.
Stanley found her one morning lying on the kitchen floor, perfectly her but only her bones. He counted them all and found there were just the right number. Her teeth looked jagged at the roots, and Stanley understood why she would have been in so much pain.