The Femur

Robert Vaughan

When my ex FedExed me a small box of her pubic hairs it ranked right up there among the strangest things I’d ever received in the mail. But the oddest was my grandfather’s femur. I was away at college when he passed. Shoved in front of a train by his third wife while visiting Berlin. My mother’s theory. 

          Then Dad decided to send along the package. When I opened it, I wasn’t quite certain if it was a joke. No note, no return address. Just the bone, suspended and fused inside a rectangular plastic frame, like a tarantula my kid sister had. I placed it on my dorm room closet shelf. 

          Through the years, and multiple moves later, I’d grown attached. It was as if we shared bone. Cartilage. Nerves. Connective tissues. It was what prompted me to pursue forensics, and I’d tote it, not an easy task, to my yoga classes, or to weekly seminars in Vegas. Cradle it at night, the smooth surface reassuring, hum ourselves to sleep.

          After I got married, my wife begged me to get rid of it, wouldn’t listen when I pleaded with her to let it stay. She said it was too creepy. Really? What she doesn’t know is that I snuck it under the mattress, above the box spring on my side of our bed. And I can feel it, every time I lie down, growing.

Robert Vaughan is an award-winning author, playwright, and teacher. His books include Microtones (Cervena Barva, 2012), Diptychs + Triptychs + Lipsticks + Dipshits (Deadly Chaps, 2013), Addicts & Basements (CCM, 2014), RIFT (Unknown Press, 2015), Funhouse (Unknown Press, 2016), and Askew (Cowboy Jamboree, 2022). He was twice the runner-up for the Gertrude Stein Award for Fiction. His work has been widely anthologized, including the New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction (W.W. Norton, 2018) and Best Small Fictions 2016 and 2019 (Sonder Press), His plays have been produced in S.F., N.Y.C., and Milwaukee. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Bending Genres.

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