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Lived-In

Updated: Aug 16

By Najla Brown



He reminded me of home, so I moved in. Hung my art on his eyelashes. Pushed my bed against his left lung. His inhales provided just the right amount of breeze in the summer. The steady movement rocked me to sleep as the sounds of Rob Thomas reverberated in his rib cage. He couldn’t really sing, but I didn’t care enough to file a noise complaint. I knew what a bargain he was. The amenities were the best part: food, transportation, emergency support. He had everything.


I even made sure he didn’t smoke before moving in. I know from experience you can never get the smell of nicotine out of the sheets or your head. He was the perfect host. So good, we held dinner parties in his stomach. My mother raved about his cooking, and his mother loved what I’d done with the place as I ran my hand across the cubby holes I installed where his belly fat used to be. I’d really fixed him up, and together, we filled each orifice with our favorite things until movie tickets and tennis gear began to spill onto the floor, forcing us to start tucking things under the bed and in his atriums. We filled his heart until the beating slowed into a dull drone.


His corneas, which used to be my sunroom, became a shrine to worn-out shoes. We removed his teeth to make space for more concert stubs, but the weight of the paper became so heavy in his mouth that he couldn’t move his tongue. Whole sections of him became uninhabitable as more things called his body home. Dust settled as rooms went unopened and uncared for. Even the type began to fade on the receipts as they became confetti for a party we’d never throw.


I shuffled around lolling tennis balls in his arteries. Each hoped to embrace the laces of a racket once more, but there was no more embracing–or sleeping. I lay awake at night, hiding under the covers while his shallow breaths whipped the ripped paper into a frenzy. It reminded me of the twisters from back home. He became a body filled with so much love it left me with no room to grow.

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Najla Brown traded West Texas' oil pump-jacks for Houston's oil skyscrapers. She spends her days writing taglines and her nights writing everything else. Her work can be found in The New York Times, Redivider, Bridge Eight, and elsewhere.


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