The Subject of Space (Heaps)

The surgeon, after his second date with Marisa, seemed sheepish about the more gruesome facts of his work — When she wanted to know if the surgeon could bear the jolts of electricity when he touched the cold metal, he called for the waiter. When Marisa asked when he learned to stop looking into the mirror after in case he might see his own torso pulled open and jagged like those he tended to on the tables, he ordered another slice of chocolate cake.

Marisa, distracted, biting the pregnant glass, thinking of photos she had seen of incisions and war and slaughterhouses, the boy calves in particular, grouped together with fear — Soft still to the touch?

The surgeon reached out to walk his fingers along the back of Marisa’s hand as she began to imitate the gestures of stroking the fur of the quivering animals.

As soft as you?

Marisa let the surgeon caress her thinking how they again would find themselves in her apartment with his nose buried in the back of her neck and the capillaries of his cock, soft itself, filling. The layers like yellow tissue paper in stacks, or like tiramisu, and becoming a menace — Marisa would lie in bed and try to explain to the surgeon the wonderful warmth of the mothers’ wiry, not soft, coats. The black spots which in the sun became the same temperature of an almost settled tan after the beach.

The surgeon nodded. Like the way you wrap your heartbeat around me?

No. Marisa meant the way the surgeon’s own heartbeat retreated, transferred in her so she still raced in her mind as he abandoned her being.

Marisa in a cotton slip preparing for surgery and the anesthesia too slow — The surgeon appraising Marisa’s torso as she began slipping, tapping at her belly. She thought of the dry skin around her right nipple and the surgeon seeing it and blushed as she was pulled under.

Sometimes while they were in bed she would imagine the surgeon standing over her, the scalpel through the flesh, fingers probing. Finding. God she wanted him to find it.

The cows Marisa had grown up with were not used for dairy or meat. Marisa was the daughter of a scientist, a man who worked with a group of similarly glassy eyed doctors in dirty lab coats and stethoscopes slung over their necks they would eye the animals, they called each one Bessie, slipping their gaze into the beasts sides which bore large plexiglass windows, portholes — Inside were stomachs and spleens. Marisa would filter through the rows, her small hands brushing along knees and bellies, not a child to be seen, counting beats per minute.

The father would tread excrement into the kitchen sometimes — The surgeon on their last date, picking a piece of chicken up off the floor and placing it in his mouth.

Five second rule.

And Marisa was too tired to start on the subject of time with him.


Heaps is a queer writer whose first book is forthcoming from CLASH Books in Spring 2022. You can find more of their work in Entropy’s WOVEN Series, Communion Arts Journal, A) Glimpse) Of), Taco Bell Quarterly, Giallo Lit, and others. Heaps holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and teaches at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.