by Aryanna Denk
When I first brought home the boy who would be my husband, he insisted on walking up the wheelchair ramp leading into the side of my house.
This is stellar, he said.
He heel-toed the slight incline and I wheeled behind him. He looked over his shoulder, popped out his backside, asked if I enjoyed the view. I said, Wait, wait, and scooched until I was in front. I used the palms of my hands on the push rim to wiggle back and forth, said, How about this view? He doubled, slapped his knee, said, That’s a good one!
I showed him how I moved from the chair onto the mattress. He stood next to me and held his hands out, all ten fingers spread like those construction paper turkeys I made as a kid, crayon brushing pointer, pinky. In bed, he hovered over me, tongue wetting his lips. I reached up, patted the oozes of sweat popping out of his forehead like tiny, infinite pimples, and gave him my body.
I told him that my bones weren’t permanent fixtures and he told me, That’s hot. The problem was my displaced hips, the twisted everything. His penis navigated the labyrinth of my mutated tissue. Lit me on fire. It’s okay, I told him. We talked to my disability sometimes on nights like this, said, You be nice, now. Laughed. Hoped it would be better the next time.
A few months later, he proposed in the staircase of a lighthouse. Oops, he said upon finding that there wasn’t an elevator. We called our families, cracked, Couldn’t even get to the top! The boy who would be my husband took me to Olive Garden for the wine samples, then, but they wouldn’t funnel them into my feeding tube, so he mooned the servers and I rolled my chair over a breadstick and we were asked to leave.
At home, he sulked around, kicking at cords on the floor, and, anyway, it was my fault we didn’t eat, so I asked if we should consummate the engagement. His gaze lifted to mine. I said, There’s something new we can try.
You’re stellar, he said. God, you are so fucking stellar.
And so, we began disassembling my ribs. His hands working at my bones, and my body doing what it was broken to do.
There’s that joke, he said, pulling his arm back up from the hole of my mouth with a rib, about the man who breaks his torso to suck his own dick, and he laughed for both of us because my lungs had started ballooning and I had too much breath and it came out like little poofs, like little farts. Ha, ha, we said. Pfft, pfft, pfft.
This was fine for us at first because I could bend into shapes, into nothing, but the gasps I made from the air and the pressure of his body on mine made him feel guilty.
It doesn’t sound like you’re enjoying it, he said. Does it still hurt? I said, No, no. He helped me sit up, brought me water and tilted my head when I swallowed the ribs back down into place like lubed pills. He rubbed the soft spot of skin at the bottom of my knee. He said, I want this to be just as good for you.
Next, we tried my jaw. Some disabled women can go full snake, I read: arms, legs, feet, all excess limbs removed. Unhinged and emptied, I put my mouth around him. Then, we thought, better remove the teeth, too. It was alright, he said, after, but a little cold in there. I nodded and fixed each molar into the black, sucking sockets of my gums.
On our wedding night, he carried me to the mattress in the hotel room. More wine for the Mrs., he said, and I was drunk, glitter everywhere, and put my ring against his, clink.
When he asked what I wanted to try tonight, I opened my mouth for him to reach in, but he shook his head. Had a different idea. He thought, if we could just remove the source of pain, we could find the good spot for me. Okay, I said.
I laid on my back and he adjusted my knees so they were bent, feet flat on the mattress. He told me to guide it out myself, and as I dipped my fingers between my legs, bore down to that place of gravity, tugged and released and tugged, I could feel the head of my pelvis crowning. I coaxed it out, cooing, and he said, Goddamn, you stellar creature, and I ripped and bled and birthed my bones to be a little more flexible for him—open, soft, body disabled, so nothing could get in our way.
ARYANNA DENK is a disabled writer from Buffalo, NY where she writes, teaches, and lives with her wife and their co-dependent cats. She holds an MFA in Fiction from Bowling Green State University. Her work can be found in Tule Review, The Merrimack Review, Healthline, Pain Resource, and others.
Visit her Twitter @bookishAryanna for more information.