The Temerity of Imperfection



Rory shoves the marbles into his mouth and ‘talks’ to me, spitting out the smooth glass. He does this because he thinks it’s funny. I bend and pick up each as they fall, keeping my eyes on the carpet: I don’t want him to see my grin. He makes a bowl with his hands and puts it at my chest. I pour the marbles in and he yells a vowel like he told me so. He loads them in again and I, again, tell him to stop or he’ll choke. His eyes twist and hit me with that light and I lose two inches. I wipe my fingers on my pants and bend down, ready.

We go to the farmers market and he makes shadow puppets for six little kids from a beam of nine am sunlight. His dog and eyeball fight black against the white side of a flatbed. The kids giggle and clap mesmerized by the slate shapes, the incongruity of Rory’s face now forgotten. I walk to the next booth. They’re selling orchids. I touch the alien petals with the tip of my finger. Silken whites dotted with purples and blushes of pinks on attacking curves that come at me from uneven angles. Strange can be beautiful. I turn my head to call him and see that now he’s making a dove; his hands rounded soft with the rise and fall of its careless flying.

The waiting room of the doctor’s office is more like a playroom than a place where one sits to find out what bad things are going to happen next. There are puzzles and blocks, stickers and cars. Rory likes the Play-Doh table. He barely lets me sign in before he’s imprisoned my shirt in a solid pull towards the tiny plastic chairs. I sit giant, my knees almost level with my shoulders. He opens a can for me and then for himself. His hands embrace the goo and he chortles and hees. The nonsense sounds escalate and fill the room but here nobody pays much attention. I relax here. Here, I can admire his face where it is just a part of things like the carpet or the couch or the small plants. I look at the faces of the other children and feel a guilty sense of satisfaction: Rory’s is not as bad as some. He notes my distraction and wraps my hands in his and squeezes. The red goo squirts out between the cracks in our collective grip and he hoots, reclaiming.

I trace Rory’s face with my finger while he sleeps. I am always fascinated with how it lifts where it shouldn’t and is raised where it should lower. I feel that if only I could press one of these places correct, everything else would fall into alignment, but I know that’s impossible: I’ve seen every x-ray. Instead, I think about how his facial hair will fill in. I hope he reaches puberty so that I can find out. His huffing begins again and I turn him on his side before it escalates and wakes him. I spoon against him and my hand snakes into his; they are so perfect.


xTx is a writer living in Southern California. You can find her writing in places like PANK, Smokelong, decomP, elimae, Dogzplot, and >Kill Author. She has a free e-book entitled, “Nobody Trusts a Black Magician” available at nonpress. She says nothing at


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