Anatomy of a Marriage by Stephanie Hutton
The scan confirms what I already suspect: my organs are in the wrong place. The doctor shakes her head at the computer screen.
‘This explains the abdominal pain,’ she says, turning the screen to us.
My brain is nestled beneath my belly button. Out of habit I place my hands over it. When I press my fingers into dimpled skin, memories are provoked: a first kiss with barely-there softness, the salty tang of tears, the scent of his neck in the night.
My husband pushes his glasses up the bridge of his nose and frowns in concentration.‘How peculiar,’ he says.His understatement confirms the cliché that I married my father. He stares at the screen, not me.
The doctor shines a torch down my throat. She finds my liver tucked into my palate. It must cause the bile that spills from my mouth after days of silence: leave me then, I’m no good anyway. A sharp stick to check if the bug of our marriage is dead or just faking.
Then clunks and whirrs of a CT scan. In the viewing room, students gather round, phones held high with red lights flashing. Through a headpiece I hear their excitement, like chimps ambushing a monkey for meat. Instead of two hemispheres of a brain they find my lower intestines coiled like a snake. No wonder my memory has been poor. It skews to the dark side, leaves me wallowing in faeces of judgment.
Once I exit the machine, I vomit a little, then walk out of the room, corridor, hospital, county – still wearing only my medical gown. I crouch in some grassland for camouflage.
Now I’m someone of interest. A superstar. A specimen.
I roll myself small and tight, bring the parts of me back together. None of the tests showed the location of my most important organ. Maybe I never had one. In crash-landing position, I clutch the back of my neck. My fingertips find a beat just above my shoulder blades.
Stephanie Hutton is a writer and clinical psychologist in Staffordshire, UK. Publications include Atticus Review, Gravel, and Five2One Sideshow. She was shortlisted for Bristol Short Story Prize and Bath Novella-in-Flash Award. Her debut novella Three Sisters of Stone is published with Ellipsis Zine. Find her at stephaniehutton.com and @tiredpsych.