Tusks

His skin became dry and oddly numb.  It thickened over the course of a month or two, and he found himself eating handfuls of grass during his walks in the park.  A few teeth fell out on either side of his mouth, and the sockets never closed.  Eventually a nub of bone grew out of each of the holes, blunt cones that distorted his cheeks and made him drool all the time until his cheeks shifted and thickened to accommodate the tusks.

The depression was crushing.  He was in pain and wept openly for most of the day.  One day he went through the apartment and smashed all of the mirrors so that he wouldn’t be reminded of his deformity.  He closed the shades so he wouldn’t catch his reflection in the windows at night.  He watched endless hours of television, drinking.

After six months the tusks were each a foot long and he could barely lift his head.   Either his fingers had shrunk or his palms had grown so that only one knuckle showed beyond the fleshy mass of his hand.  He could no longer speak and ordered food with his computer.  Mostly he got smoothies and such, as he had trouble getting normal food into his mouth.  He hadn’t left the apartment in weeks.

One day he lurched up out of his reclining chair and collapsed to all fours.  He crawled across the floor to the window, sweeping aside the curtains and smashing it open with his tusks.  He raked out the broken glass and splintered mullions and put his head out into the strange air of the place where he used to live.

Then he trumpeted.

–Steve Kilian

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