Saturday, November 30, 2013

Story #29

Dear Readers,

No turkeys were harmed in the making of weekly one-page story number 29 in a series of 52. Thank you for reading. As always, please feel free to leave a comment or pass this on to someone you think would enjoy it.

Yours sincerely,
Matthew Sharpe

Story #29

Henry had bursitis in his elbow. He went to a reiki practitioner who, while holding her cupped hands near his hurting elbow, told him to visualize it, and then to visualize the face of the first person who came to mind. “Picture the face inside the elbow,” the reiki practitioner, whose name was Lucy, said to Henry. “You don’t need to tell me this out loud, but whose face is it? What expression is this person’s face wearing?” Henry visualized his father’s grumpy mustachioed face. “Is the person saying anything?” “Goddamn it, Henry!” Henry’s father said, inside his elbow. “And what would you like to say back to the person?” Henry lay on his belly on her soft vinyl-upholstered reiki table, his face pressed into the medical tissue paper that surrounded the hole into which he had inserted his mouth, nose, and eyes. He stared down at the speckled gray indoor-outdoor carpet of Lucy’s office, which she shared with an acupuncturist and a Rolfer. He could think of nothing to say. After a while Lucy said, “What’s going on with you right now, Henry?” He told her. “Okay, I’d like you to work on that this week.” “Work on what?” “When the elbow starts hurting, visualize that elbow, that face, listen for what it says, and try saying something back to it. We’ll work with it when you come back next week. I’m seeing an expression on your face right now, what is that?” “I feel demoralized.” “Yeah, this is hard work, and it can be frustrating, it stirs up lots of stuff. Stay with it, I’m going to help you.” Lucy gave him a quick hug and he left. The hug made both his elbow and his mood improve. But that night when he was watching TV the elbow started to throb. Within minutes Henry was in agony. Okay, visualize, Henry thought. This time not his father’s face but Lucy’s appeared in his hurting elbow. Lucy was young, with short brown hair and glowing skin, and she smiled easily. Her face reflected her good health and inner beauty and her positive outlook on life. Neither Henry nor Lucy’s face spoke. With the non-affected hand he masturbated. The elbow felt fine afterward, but the pain returned the next night, and Henry did the same thing again, and the night after that and so on. When he arrived at her office the following week, Lucy said, “So how’d it go?” Henry smiled. “I told my father to fuck off. I mean, the father in my elbow, because I haven’t spoken to the real one in a year.” “And then?” “And then he turned into a baby, crying and crying and not being taken care of by anyone, and now I became his father. I picked him up and rested him in the crook of my arm, the one with bursitis, and I rocked him to sleep.” “And how did your elbow feel after this?” “Better.” “Henry, I’d call that progress.” “Me too.” Lucy had him lie on the table again and she cupped her hands an inch away from his elbow. “Oh!” she said, and drew back. “What?” “Nothing, I just, I felt a burning heat in your elbow and it startled me.” “What does it mean?” “It means things have definitely shifted since last week, and we have a lot of work to do.”


  1. Russell Edson must have been the face inside your elbow when you wrote this. Hilarious and so psychologically true to so many therapies. The indoor-outdoor carpeting in the office of a doctorish person is perfectly quietly bleak but also sort of poignant. One of many great details. Awesome!
    -- S. Wise, a.k.a Anonymous

    1. Thanks, S. Wise. Yes, Russell Edson is one of the guiding spirits of these stories.

  2. The touch professional feels secret glee admixed with terrible knowledge from literature linking onanism with elbow dysfunction.