Mechanical Martyr

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Mechanical MartyrChastiffany says, “Gross.”

Mine eyes are anchored to the darling firecracker held fast in her fingers. O, innocent candle! Brave object of mine, too tremblingly alive! At least you’ll go out with—

BANG!

Tis my cue to enter the ballroom.

The suitors congregate like gross philosophers who prattle about life, death, and eroticism. “It is pleasurable to meet you,” I lie.

“The pleasure is mine!”

“And mine!”

“And his!”

“And his!”

And his. And his. And his. And his. And his. And—

I abscond to the pleasure garden whence I chain-smoke. I find a stray shuttlecock crunched beneath my bootie and I slip her into my gown. If only everything were as brilliant and gay.

In the ballroom there’s a ravishing piano, a hot chandelier, and a self-winding clock. I should think I’m in paradise, except for the people. Not all girls are people, but most of them are. Chastiffany is both. She finds me in the pleasure garden, smoking. Lonesome, as far as she can tell—I won’t let her find my stray shuttlecock!

Chastiffany says, “Is anything more heavenly than coming out to the fashionable world?”

I tell her there’s a shuttlecock in my gown.

She slaps my face.

The cock clatters to the pavement and rolls toward a violent gathering of roses.

Forbidden love!

This is me: at rock bottom, on my hands and my knees, in a pleasure gown, at a pleasure ball, in the pleasure garden, rooting through the pleasure bushes for the lifeless body of my shuttlecock.  I sit beneath an electric lantern whom I rudely ignore. (I’m sorry, bright angel!) I don’t want to do it, but I do it: I text The Guillotine.

“Hey,” types I. “Want to kill my cousin, Chastiffany?!? Winky-face. Blushy-face. Angry-face. Heart.”

The Guillotine responds, “Yes.”

“Never mind!”

“Send her to me,” The Guillotine replies.

“No!”

I mean, think about it. The Guillotine. My Guillotine. Slicing herself. Intimately slicing herself. Into Chastiff—

No.

Hello, jealousy?

“I want her,” says The Guillotine.

“Too late,” types I. “She’s already dead! She just died!”

The pleasure ball comes to an end. And I sink.

Lower.

Lower.

Lower. But what matter my depths when soon I’ll be saved?

It happens on a Sunday, over an open fire, upon which I am burning my pleasure gown. Whilst sharing a bottle of gin with a charming little bottle opener (I don’t really love her) there appears amongst the flames a holy sign. It looks like a tampon!

“By the mechanical fluids of God,” says I, “it’s The Tampon of Our Lord’s Mother!”

Wait, tis bigger than a tampon.

“By the androgyny of androids,” I cry, “it’s The Dildo of Our Lord’s Mother!”

I curtsey and I drop to my knees—because The Dildo is speaking!

“Make your heart clean,” says she. “Let it feel for all that is human.”

“No!” I say, and my iron heart cracks.

And then I die.

I die of grief.

The end.


Photo used under CC.

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About Author

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Rachel Levy's fiction has appeared in Black Warrior Review, Fence, Tarpaulin Sky, Two Serious Ladies, and other journals. She is the author of A Book So Red (Caketrain 2015) and the recipient of a 2018 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Prose. With poet Lily Duffy, she edits DREGINALD.

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