PIECES • by Stef Hall

“She fell to pieces when he left,” we say and nod wisely. Secretly you think, silly cow, what woman is so weak as to lose the plot just because some man left her? And you sit there, blissful in Smugville, population you and your honey, and tell yourself it’ll never happen to you, but even if it did you could handle it better than that.

But then he left me.

In the first hour, I was outraged. In the second hour, I waited for him to come back and beg forgiveness. In the third, I was grief-stricken. In the fourth, I had seen it coming. In the fifth, I was better off without him.

In the morning, as I got out of a bed tangled from lack of sleep, my little toenail bounced onto the carpet. I peered at my foot; there was a tiny pink puckered place where the nail had been; I must have knocked it. I shrugged, dressed, painted on my brightest smile, and went out to face the world without him.

At lunch time, I took off my shoes to wiggle my toes in the summer grass, and found I no longer had them. I gaped into my sling-backs with incomprehension; ten plump pink little piggies stared blandly back from their leather blanket.

On the way home, I left my right arm on the bus. I was halfway down the road before I missed it, and had to run to the next stop, leaving clumps of hair fluttering to the pavement in my wake.

Sobbing, I fought into my living room, managed to dial my mother’s number before the last of my fingers rolled under the sofa. I opened my mouth to speak, my teeth clattered to the table like hailstones. My tongue twitched and writhed between them, like a landed fish, slicking the wood with saliva.

I struggled into bed, dragging the covers over my head with my remaining hand. All I could think of was him, leaving, as though his presence before had stopped me from unraveling.

“She fell to pieces when he left,” they’ll say about me.

And nod, wisely.

Stef Hall is a 30-something country girl living in the big city with her musician partner Paul and their bonkers cats. Stef writes short stories, some of which have been published, and novels, all of which have not. Yet. Although she says she does not write poetry, occasionally she does, and even more occasionally she does it well.

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