You are a guest on Dr. Phil. The theme of the show is “People Who Live Inside Dead Animals and the Partners Who Love Them.” You look down at yourself and see you are inside the carcass of a deer. Your hands and feet are its hooves. Your skin is warm hide. Your head has two giant antlers pointing in all directions. One of the antlers is pointing directly at Dr. Phil’s eye as he leans over to study you. You notice that he has not trimmed his nose hair in a very long time. He is telling the audience something is wrong with you and the other guests. He says this while sweeping one of his small hands in your general direction. You look to your right and see your partner smiling at you. Your partner is a beautiful white swan. Their wing reaches out and sweeps over your hoof in a gesture of pure love. You look to your left and see other couples: a red fox and a hound dog, a dolphin and a flamingo, a horse and a brown bear. The audience is scowling. They are shaking their heads in disbelief. Dr. Phil is talking in a loud voice but gradually becomes quieter. The audience leans in to hear him. You look at Dr. Phil and notice his nose hairs have started to take over his face. His small hands are becoming even smaller. After a few minutes of staring at Dr. Phil, you see he has been hiding inside the carcass of a hedgehog all along. He leans towards you and in a tiny voice says, I’ve always felt safe in small spaces.
Hillary Leftwich is the author of the forthcoming collection Ghosts Are Just Strangers Who Know How to Knock from CCM Press (Civil Coping Mechanisms) in 2019. She is the poetry and prose editor at Heavy Feather Review and organizes/hosts At the Inkwell Denver, a monthly reading series in Denver. Her writing can be found or is forthcoming in print and online in The Rumpus, Entropy, The Missouri Review, Hobart, Literary Orphans, Matter Press, and others. Find her online at hillaryleftwich.com. Photo of Hillary Leftwich by Jay Halsey.