Thanks for treating
me to dinner me on my birthday, Aunt Ethyl,
Im glad we
could celebrate together, Val. Who knows, I may
not be alive for your next birthday.
Dont say that,
her aunt insisted. Speaking of which, the
time has come for me to entrust you with a family
Ethyl scratched the place
where her ear had once been and then reached into
her purse to remove a small, red box, which she
handed to Val.
Be gentle with
I dont want to
know, Val, and I suggest you take the same
Ethyl once again scratched
the place where her ear had been. Im
sorry Val, I cant tell you.
theres something Ive been meaning to
ask you. What happened to your left ear?
I lost it.
How does one lose
Body parts dont
just get up and walk away, Aunt Ethyl.
In this family they
Val shook her head as Edith
signaled to the waiter for the check.
That night, Val lay in bed
thinking about how she had always felt like there
was a family secret no one was telling her. Her
mother had been missing a finger and her father a
toe, yet neither parent had ever been inclined to
talk about why.
Val heard a low groan
beside her in the bed and stiffened. She turned
around to see an old, wrinkled man lying naked
beside her. As her eyes adjusted to the dark, she
realized that the man was missing his nose. She
figured that asking him about its whereabouts
might start them off on the wrong foot.
Who are you?
she asked instead.
The man pointed wordlessly
across the room.
What is it?
The man kept pointing.
Oh, I get it!
Val got up and walked over to the desk. She, at
least, was decently dressed in a nightgown. She
lifted the small red box for the man to see. Is
this what you want?
The man ran over and
grabbed the box from her. Opening it, he smiled.
On a square of cotton rested a nose. He put it on
his face, where it fit perfectly.
It looks good,
Thank you, said
the man and walked out.
Dont you want
to get dressed, she called after him, but
he was already gone.
Just then, Val felt
something trickling down her face. When she
wiped it away, her hand came away with blood. She
touched her face and screamed.
Help! My nose!
have, Aunt Ethyl later said, I live
everyday regretting that I unknowingly gave away
my ear to a dead relative.
Why didnt you
warn me, Ethyl?
This is the family
secret, Val, though some say its a curse.
Val groaned. Am I
ever going to get my nose back?
In your lifetime,
reasoned Aunt Ethyl, honestly, who knows?