Matador Review

A Quarterly Missive of Alternative Concern

jennifer schaefer


"statue maker"


            Best give it a think, says Mum, on the day you can no longer dress yourself: which shall it it be, sitting or lying? Upright or reclining? "Bloody hell, Mum!"—your neck too rigid now to turn your face. But she has a point, hasn't she; you'd best choose before your body chooses for you, encasing you in stone. The one thing you can control, after all: in which position to solidify.

            Your second skeleton started forming ten years ago, at age eight, playing statue maker—blimey, the irony—your neighbor Helen flinging you to the ground so hard your arm snapped, the injury triggering your first flare-up; cementing your tendons in new plates of bone like an inner cast. Doctors, clueless, diagnosed some fluke infection. But then, two years later, the new lump on your back and Mum, reckoning cancer, whisked you straight to hospital. Half your back now a tortoise shell from that bloody useless biopsy.

            So now you must decide how to fossilize, your forever pose. Pros and cons either way. Sitting, of course, better for attending your sister's ballet recitals, family weddings and such. But you've never been one to sleep sitting up—even with pills—so you're basically enrolling in lifetime insomnia.

            Crikey, look out the window, there's that wanker Clive in Helen's garden, tickling her waist, his grubby mitts crawling towards her boobs. Like he did to you that time he realized: Fancy that—her arms are frozen at the waist, ace! Though he'd gotten a good bollocking from his stepdad after, it apparently hasn't discouraged him from taking his molestations elsewhere.

            Might be a relief, truth be told, to just lie down; to say sod all the ballet recitals and weddings, sod being stared at.

            You'll ask your friends. Your two best friends who form a human shield when you go out for walks, cushioning you from pervy Clive and hurtling skateboarders and cyclists. Your two best friends who smuggle Bacardi into your room and do your nails and hair and dance (oh-so-carefully) your arses off to Beyonce.  

            "Pity you can't freeze this way," squeals one, smacking her bum.

            "Shame your hands are already stiff," grins the other, "or you could've been like"—jutting her middle finger. The three of you howling (ever-so-gently) your heads off.

            And you know you'll still laugh like this one, two, three years from now, when they visit from university, even if through your locked jaw; they'll still bring Bacardi, help you drink it with a straw.  

            Right, then, Mum; you've decided. No lying down. No sitting up. The lady prefers to stand, thank you very much.

            You shall be draped each morning in the trendiest of clothes and propped in the front window perfectly composed.

            Piss off deathbed rigor mortis. Sod you wheelchair insomnia.

            You'll metamorphose into mannequin.


Jennifer Schaefer is a Chicago-area writer whose work has appeared in: North American Review, Chicago Tribune Printers Row, Curbside Splendor, Zouch Magazine, Tortoise Books' anthology and Akashic Books' flash fiction series. She also received an Honorable Mention from Glimmer Train and a Special Mention from Fabula Press. She is seeking publication of two books, a decadent London-based novel, and a YA fantasy adventure story set in a Renaissance Faire. She can be found at: www.jenschaefer.com and @jennyschaef.