Fiction for Side A: “Feast” by Andrea Marcusa

Feast

The double-wide steel door clanks shut. I stand next to the man who collected me from the waiting room. We are the only people in the huge elevator. I am naked except for my thin gown. The man barely looks at me. He rolls back on his heels and digs his hands into his khaki pockets. His pants hug his firm backside. He’s tall, big footed, too. I open my mouth to say something but he’s already speaking.

“Here put this on.” He hands me a blue scrub cap.

“On my head?”

I slip it on and look down at my gown, cinched at my waist right above my belly button. They promised I will have a flat stomach. Nothing will show above my bikini line.

Sexy.

Uterus-less.

An empty space at my Qi Jong energy gate.

What will my bladder think left there all by itself?

Or this fit guy next to me with snug pants and oomph?

The doors open and I follow after him.

We round a corner and then another and enter a long hallway.

“Why are you making me walk there?” The cement floor feels cold on my paper-slippered feet.

“Hospital policy. Helps patients feel more in control.”

“I get it. The hospital is making me walk to my execution.”

“It’s not that bad,” he says.

An execution of my uterus. It will be a perfect execution. No hysteria anywhere.

We reach a set of doors. He opens it for me and holds it until I pass through, then strides ahead. I hurry to fill the gap between us. “Are we almost there?”

“Just about. What are you doing for Thanksgiving?”

Recovering from all this. Happy Turkey Day. You?”

“I’m going to my mother’s. She’s having a big crowd. You know, my cousins, my nephews, my brother, my sister, her boyfriend.”

All from a uterus. One without cancer cells.

Once a cozy home for two fetal boy tenants who are now so grown that they’re each married to women with their own.

Pink healthy ones.

A typical uterus. I thought I had a typical one until two weeks ago. Always when you least expect it. For most of the world, next week will bring a typical Thanksgiving with all the fixings. Today, once they clip, slice, and then pull out my uterus like a baby, it will be just like closing up a turkey—without any stuffing. And there’s the vaginal cuff they’ll sew where the cervix was. Will it be French or button?

We arrive at a room. Glass double doors slide open. I’m handed off by the man to a gowned and capped woman.

I blink in the bright white and break out in goosebumps. The woman doublechecks my name and date of birth. I imagine a smile under the mask. Or maybe it’s just her eyes that smile. Is it possible for eyes to smile? I want to think so.

“Sorry it’s so cold,” says the woman as I hug my bare arms.

Another mask pats the gurney. “Sit here. Put your head there.” I lie down on the narrow cot.

“You’re this morning’s racecar making a pit stop.” The masked voice says, as it pulls a sheet over my torso and down to my slippered feet. Soon they’ll be working under my hood.

A half dozen figures scurry around like every second counts sticking and strapping things on me. There is a loud whirring. Have I been set in motion? When will I start counting backwards? Or is that only on TV?

Everything looks blue under the glare. The room, gowned figures, caps. Something rubbery hovers over my face. I think of people passing, eating, spooning stuffing from that gaping cavity, carving that gutted bird.

Mini-interview with Andrea Marcusa

HFR: Can you share a moment that has shaped you as a writer (or continues to)?

AM: I wrote my first story when I was six years old about howling dogs outside my window. My teacher and mother loved it and I guess my career took off.

HFR: What are you reading?

AM: Diane Williams, Sartre, Andre Gide, Rosanna Warren.

HFR: Can you tell us what prompted “Feast”?

AM: I underwent this procedure right around Thanksgiving and the similarities between the two “procedures”—sewing and carving the turkey, a crowd around a table with the turkey in the center and being surgery patient (the turkey) seemed apt. I just went with the image and once I found the right narrator, it grew from there.

HFR: What’s next? What are you working on?

AM: I have a collection of short stories circulating and I’m working on two collections of flash fiction.

HFR: Take the floor. Be political. Be fanatical. Be anything. What do you want to share?

AM: Everyday I wake up feeling hopeless about the world and how people don’t seem to know how to get along anymore. I go out of my way to be kind to everyone, even when I’d rather not.

Andrea Marcusa’s work has appeared in Gettysburg Review, Cutbank, River Styx, River Teeth, Citron Review, and others. She’s received recognition in a range of competitions, including Glimmer Train, Raleigh Review, New Letters, and Southampton Review. For more information, visit: andreamarcusa.com or see her on Twitter @d_marcusa.

Check out HFR’s book catalog, publicity list, submission manager, and buy merch from our Spring store. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.