The doctor told her it wasn’t exoskeleton. “Melanoma can hide in surprising places,” she said.
“But,” Cassie said, “our bodies acquire trillions of new mutations every day. Why couldn’t it be exoskeleton?”
Dr. Orr patted Cassie’s melanomed claw. “Always look on the bright side, we caught it early.”
There would be a scar. Right in the middle of her life line. She had spots of melanoma in her right ear, inside the shell of her ear, too. She could hear houseflies humming from across the room. In the key of F. She hummed with them, harmonizing.
Her daughter treated her like the enemy. “You never let me have a childhood!” she said. Of course there’d been a childhood. Cassie had documented it meticulously.
“See, it’s here, it’s right here, your childhood, it’s in my phone, on the Cloud too, see, here’s where we went to the botanical garden and here we are at Johnny Cash’s childhood home!” she said, brandishing the device at her daughter.
“Mom, that’s Instagram. That woman has hands, not claws. That child is happy. It’s not even us.”
Cassie sat under the umbrella on the back porch. She’d always thought she’d become something beautiful, that the death and regeneration of cells would at last produce a work of art or, failing that, at least someone who knew how to be a good mother.
Cassie watched her daughter, her young cells regenerating every day, and she tried to stop it, to hold her daughter in place with filters and funny captions. There were so many pictures. Band concerts and plays, softball games and science fairs. She used her elbow to slide the screen. Her mutated scorpion hands could no longer do it.
“Even a small amount of alcohol will make a scorpion go crazy and sting itself to death,” she said, reaching with pincers into the bottle for the worm.
Epiphany Ferrell lives and writes on the edge of the Shawnee Forest in Southern Illinois. Her stories appear in New Flash Fiction Review, Third Point Press, Newfound and other places. She recently received a Pushcart nomination, and has a story forthcoming in Best Microfiction 2020. She blogs intermittently for Ghost Parachute and is a fiction reader for Mojave River Review.