Fiction, Monologues, Plays & More
By Chelsea Sutton
Originally published in The Rattling Wall’s Only Light Can Do That: 100 Post-Election Poems, Stories & Essays. On November 9, 2016, The Rattling Wall and PEN Center USA put out a call for post-election poems, stories, and essays. People had six days to send their “protest, promise, rage, and wonder.”
It feels normal to watch your skin turn into paper. Cardboard around your knees, recycled fibers on the soles of your feet, glossy coated strips down your chest and around your boobs, Photoshopped to a gossamer shimmer.
On the second day of your period, there’s a yellow legal pad where your pubic hair used to be, a stranger’s handwriting scrawled across the thin blue lines. Christmas gift-wrapping curls around your thighs and backside, crepe and tissue springing from your head and falling in wisps down your neck of carbon copy. You move through the world slowly and quietly so as not to be ripped and torn and crumpled, as paper always wants to do. Paper practically asks for it.
But then one morning, your lips are newsprint, sopping and breaking from the saliva of your words, bleeding ink, your voice jumbled in smears and stains across your college-ruled arms. And so you get to work. You begin with your parchment legs, folding yourself, creasing and twisting down the length of your veins, your remaining skin on your hands scarred and puffy with paper cuts. You fold your legs into cranes with flapping wings, your head into a lotus flower, your feet into boats and arms into planes. You fold your chest into an open origami box holding your pulpy heart with music sheet valves, each breath spraying a bloody ticker tape parade.
You fold and fold and fold until you catch on fire. Fire spreads to others with paper skin, and it burns and burns but you never stop folding. Folding and folding and folding because here it goes, here it goes, here it comes.
Chelsea Sutton is a fiction writer, playwright, and a 2016 PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellow. Her fiction has appeared in The Rattling Wall, Bourbon Penn, The Texas Observer, The Exposition Review, and others. She was the winner of NYC Midnight’s 2011 Flash Fiction Contest and a 2016 Finalist for the Indiana Review Fiction Prize. Her plays have been finalists for the O’Neill Playwrights, PlayPenn, and Seven Devils Conferences, the Ingram New Works Lab, and the Stanley Drama, Woodward/Newman Drama, and Reva Shiner Comedy awards. She was nominated for a Stage Raw Award for her play Wood Boy Dog Fish, written for Rogue Artists Ensemble. She is currently working on a short story collection entitled Curious Monsters and developing new work with the Humanitas PlayLA Workshop, Skylight Theatre’s Playlab, and Rogue Artists Ensemble. Withcoffeespoons.com