When I show them what I have and what I do not have they’ll say, Why don’t you rest in your trailer instead; we have someone else in mind and they’ll call you. I brought my oldest son’s red Gameboy in case this happened, but one cannot fully prepare for this kind of disappointment. I have all the sounds of Donkey Kong memorized; the thud of barrels splintering against rocks, the pings of collected coins, that sick, guttural sound he makes when hit head-on.
There are things beside that you should know — how I bend at the waist when I laugh, how awkward I look smoking cigarettes — but these are not the reason you’ve been called. I know about hiding my body because everyone thinks it is wrong. When my neighbor shouts into my house from outside to tell me my toddler is about to fall through our broken window screen I answer with my arms folded across my chest, though I must admit I considered going to find my binder before coming to thank her, before saving him, even. I change in bathroom stalls in the locker room, or, on a more fearful day, just wear shorts under my work pants. I am terrified to look at the naked men changing in the YMCA; why must they stand around like that, for minutes and minutes on end? They are folded like old blinds, white as turnips. One day my son asks if it’s really ok for me to walk around the house with no shirt even though I have boobs, not a chest; I want to tell him I still have them because I like them, but I don’t. I just laugh; laughing always helps. They hang between us. Yes, it hurts to hide them, and thanks for asking, but I cannot say goodbye. Even though I know that if I do, I can do my own sex scenes. Just let me play the game and come get me when you need me again.
It’s easy cash. You’ll be a body among bodies. No one will even know it’s you. Your name in the blur of names at the end or not there at all; we see you pop on IMBD but it must be a fluke. Imagine the theater, that big screen, waiting. The smells of butter flavor and industrial vacuums, the pop of plastic soda lids under your feet. The feeling of your limbs on screen, heavy and electric. Your quads are so symmetrical. Lie back. Drape those legs over the edge of the bed. Think of fame. Do not think of sex because this is not sex. This does not smell of slick and sweat and it does not ache of waiting and wanting. It is just being. Just being beautiful for a moment. Wanted. Perfect the way everyone wants you to be. Lie there and imagine money, money underneath you, stuffed into your mattress, money in a trunk in the closet, money you throw down at the butcher for an entire beef tenderloin because you can. Money for coffee you grind yourself in the morning, a rich dark roast, every bean sheening with oil. Make some sounds, not too much but enough to earn your keep. Close your eyes. Tense everything.
Krys Malcolm Belc’s collection of flash essays, In Transit, is forthcoming from The Cupboard Pamphlet. His work is forthcoming in or has been featured in Granta, Black Warrior Review, Brevity, Sonora Review Online, and elsewhere. Krys lives with his partner and three sons in snowy Marquette, Michigan, where he is a student in the MFA program at Northern Michigan University and an Associate Short-Shorts Editor at Passages North.
“Notes for My Body Double” was chosen as the runner-up of the Ryan R Gibbs Flash Fiction contest, judged by Matt Bell. Visit our contest page for more information.