After years of deliberation, Eileen had decided to go through with the surgery. It had taken therapy and much consideration to finally allow Dr. Feildman to cut her head off. But, she did it.
Of course, it had to be done for the pain. Eileen suffered from inexplicable pain all over her body and when it became too much to bear she’d wanted to simply remove her head. It was a practical operation even if the condition was somewhat esoteric. So, Jo Ann was on her side however reluctantly.
Jo Ann opened a set of shades behind Eileen. Eileen began, “Thank you for helping me with this.”
Jo Ann smiled.
“Are you OK?” Eileen asked.
“I’m fine,” Jo Ann said, lying.
“Well, when they get here everyone will see that this was the right decision.”
Post op, Eileen’s neck healed like an amputee’s stump, smooth and round. And, at present, her head was perched on a stand on the coffee table. She was talking to Jo Ann from her stand and she was nervous. This was going to be the first time her friends had seen her since the operation.
Once everyone arrived, Sherry spoke first. She said, “Oh my gawd.” Another friend, a tall brunette named Daphne exclaimed, “Eileen, you’re a head!” Eileen was smiling. Her curly hair was short, sprouting from her scalp like fresh seedlings. She yelped, “Surprise! I had my head removed!” She was seeking support.
Sherry said, “We can see that.”
Daphne sighed. “Eileen.” She shook her head, disapprovingly.
Jo Ann said, “I’m proud of Eileen. You know how we always say she could lose her head if it wasn’—”
Suddenly, Eileen’s body stumbled into the room like a drunk. “I can’t see myself,” Eileen explained. Then she nearly poked out her own eye reaching down for her head.
Daphne pushed her straw down in a Diet Coke. She sipped.
“This is so stupid,” Sherry said. She crossed her arms. “I’m not helping you put yourself back together.”
“I have that under control,” Eileen said. “Jo Ann and I have been practicing.” Eileen held her head above her neck. She shoved herself down and swiftly spun her head until there was a click.
“That’s backwards, dear,” said Jo Ann. Jo Ann pulled Eileen’s head off and spun her body 180 degrees.
Eileen had always had boyfriends. She was a beautiful woman, so this didn’t change after the surgery. What did change was that she began receiving questions about her removable head. Men would say, Does it hurt? No, she’d respond. Then Eileen would explain her complicated condition. Can you swap heads? Of course not! Eileen would answer which may not have been exactly true. But, why would she want to? Some clever men wanted to know if there was any way to wear two heads at once since that would be better than one. There wasn’t, but Eileen thought this was funny. Do you ever lose your head? That was usually a joke. But, the truth was that Eileen often lost her head and took various men home with her.
On one occasion, she went to bed with a man and against her better judgment removed her head. He’d wanted to see what that was like. Then she fell asleep with her head resting on the bedside table in its stand. It was such a thoughtless move. The man left with her body.
When Eileen woke up she thought she’d been abducted, but there was no sign of a struggle. She must have gone willingly, she thought, as she wished she could wipe the sleep from the corner of her eyes.
As the morning wore on, Eileen listened to her cell phone ring, hoping that Jo Ann–whom she was supposed to meet for lunch–would come over to find out what had happened. Thankfully, Jo Ann did. She knocked on the door and Eileen yelled for her. Then she sighed. Her body hadn’t even bothered to lock the front door. She heard it open.
Jo Ann walked into Eileen’s bedroom calling her name. When Jo Ann saw Eileen on the bed stand, she said, “Where are you?”
“I ran off with a man.”
“Without your head?”
Jo Ann sat down in an easy chair. “I knew something like this was going to happen.”
Later that night, there was a knock on the door. Eileen’s body walked in. The first thing she did was turn around and show Jo Ann and Eileen the new tattoo on Eileen’s lower back.
Eileen said, “At least, I didn’t feel it.” Then she looked at the tattoo again and said, “You know, I kind of like it.”
Another short story and original illustration by Chapel Hill’s finest, Justin Meckes.