Welcome to another installment of If My Book, the Monkeybicycle feature in which authors compare their recently released books to weird things. This week Lynn Mundell writes about her flash fiction chapbook, Let Our Bodies Be Returned to Us, published by the University of South Carolina in March and now in its second printing.
If Let Our Bodies Be Returned to Us were a digit, it would be the thumb—the good-time finger. Indispensable for hitchhiking, firing up a lighter, smoking a cigar, pinching people on their bottoms, giving the old thumbs-up, thumb wrestling with third-graders, and hanging on for dear life to the edge of a cliff.
If Let Our Bodies Be Returned to Us were a purse, it would a wristlet. Big enough for everything that matters in life: housekey, driver’s license, phone, pepper spray, nit comb, and an emergency Kit Kat bar, but small enough that you could companionably spend a 10-hour day together at Mall of America.
If Let Our Bodies Be Returned to Us were an insult, it would be “You fustilarian!” from Shakespeare. Literary, zany, and something you’d feel compelled to popularize.
If Let Our Bodies Be Returned to Us were a famous woman, it would be a combination of Nancy Drew, Sophia Loren, and the Mona Lisa, with a little bit of your own bad self thrown in.
If Let Our Bodies Be Returned to Us were a TV sitcom mother, it would be Estelle Getty from “Golden Girls,” sugar and spice rubbed along the lip of a whisky shot glass.
If Let Our Bodies Be Returned to Us were a birth plan, it would be the one where you think you are doing it natural in the backyard kiddy pool with Enya singing “Caribbean Blue” on repeat, but pretty quick you are on drugs in an ambulance hurtling down the 580 while playing car bingo with your sunburned doula.
If Let Our Bodies Be Returned to Us were something you want to smash, it would be the champagne coupe. Whether it’s fact or fiction it was modelled after a woman’s breast, body parts show up in a lot of mundane stuff, don’t they?
If Let Our Bodies Be Returned to Us were your forgotten dry cleaning, it would be your favorite silver lamé dress you suddenly need for Stacey’s impromptu 40th at Ba Rumba in an hour, so you pick the dry cleaner’s lock and leave the money on the counter—and hot damn you have a good time and, yes, sometime it is worth the extra effort for something beautiful.
If Let Our Bodies Be Returned to Us were a feminist, it would be Ruth Bader Ginsburg, R.I.P. Substance and style.
If Let Our Bodies Be Returned to Us were a laugh, it would be the kind that starts out kind of low like a faraway crop duster, then builds to a thrilling hyena screech, then ends on a sort of haunting death rattle you’d do anything in order to hear again.
If Let Our Bodies Be Returned to Us were a bracelet charm, it would be the little silver blobfish your oddball Uncle Leo made in prison shop class for your seventh birthday. Something you enjoyed when you were alone because it was made with love just for you, then started to show off when you realized everyone else thought it was totally bitchin’.
If Let Our Bodies Be Returned to Us were a sister, it would be the youngest one. The baby who looks cute but when you turn your back on her is actually a street-fighting, hostage-taking little pirate who never ceases to surprise you.
Lynn Mundell’s writing can be found in Monkeybicycle, Booth, SmokeLong Quarterly, The Masters Review, the anthology New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction (W.W. Norton & Company),and more. Her work has placed in the Wigleaf top 50 Very Short Fictions short and long lists, and earned the Lascaux Price in Creative Nonfiction. She is co-founder and co-editor of 100 Word Story and lives in Albany, California, where her scholarship for graduating high schoolers committed to studying creative writing at college is now in its third year. Winner of the Yemassee 2021 Fiction Chapbook Contest, Let Our Bodies Be Returned to Us is her debut collection. Follow her on Twitter at @lynnfmundell.