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"Iris" by Mar Ovsheid

There were worms in Trajuni’s eyes, but she ignored them for a few weeks because she had too much laundry busying her arms. She had too much half-rotten food in the fridge and too little sleep to consider that she might have cause for concern.

About a month in, the worms began to dance and she began to count them. Eleven. She picked her eyelashes bald as she combed them clean again and again. “It’s probably just dust or old make-up stuck in there and catching the sun in an unlucky way. Allergies or something.”

She rubbed her eyelids until they started to bruise.

While buying new sheets Trajuni watched one body split in two, the sight of the shapes swimming apart made all the clearer by the bright white of the plastic-wrapped linen. Twenty-four.

“I’ve gotta go see a nurse.”

The nurse wasn’t in, but a doctor informed Trajuni that she had floaters—microscopic broken or dead or concentrated spots casting shadows in her vision that only she could see. “They come with age.” Not worth repairing. Showing mercy through medicine, the doctor tapped out a prescription to kill Trajuni’s butterflies. “This should help to level your moods.”

Worms in the eyes remind you that time is running out.

The unaffected worms began to chew away at the fantasy-vision Trajuni had so lovingly assembled. Doing the laundry became impossible as squirming spots of dirt never washed clean. “Why bother?” Trajuni left the clothes to mold in the machine, hoping that time would force them down the drain. The meals she prepared churned with maggots that vanished when she picked at them with her fingers. The worms bred in the morning and spent the afternoon eating away at the ceramic dinner sets Trajuni no longer had the energy to scrub.

The white walls of the house became mirrors for the colony of invaders; the ceiling a stage for the entrancement of their captive audience. Fifty-five. It became too much and Trajuni moved towards the sun. Maybe the air and more medication and the earth would heal her spirit.

Flat on her back, Trajuni watched the clouds pass by. “There’s a bear, and there’s a baby smiling as she watches it. A dove and a fish.” A whistle in the dandelion patch beside her turned her head. A robin hopped and sang and reminded her that maybe it’s not so bad, to be here growing slowly older. A few downy feathers stuck out from the brown bird’s neck, its red heart pulsing against Trajuni’s stinging eyes. It came closer. “You can see what’s pure and true in me, what I am, worms and all.” Its beady, black stare reflected the sunlight back to her, revealing nothing of the robin’s own soul. Letting out its soft too-da-loo it plunged its beak into her left eye.

The robin dug out the worms, pulling away the iris and the stems before flying off to spit the mush down the throats of its nearly-naked offspring. Trajuni layin shocked stillness, her hazy world with all of its pestilence suddenly swallowed by light and the hungry mouths of ugly, flightless things. Eyes licked clean as dinner plates, she rolled over and up and crawled on all fours in the direction she imagined would lead her home. One-by-one six little birds choked up their guts, their sick full of worms and veins and prescription pills. They quit their crying out and died while Trajuni wandered into the street.

Mar Ovsheid is a spoilsport who doesn't like to run or drive. She's had poetry and fiction published on-and-offline under a variety of names (real and made-up) since 2013 in publications such as DoveTales/Writing for Peace, Midway Journal, and Spark: A Creative Anthology. So you might've met before, but it's alright if you both forget. Mar works as a housekeeper and has her high school diploma.

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