HOW TO FORGET A PASTY SHIRTLESS CHEST WITH THE HELP FROM A BABY SUNSET DOLPHIN by Abigal Putnam

Two white flabs resting on a hairless flapjack stomach that ends in high wasted pants. Those are in fashion by the way. Wear them in the forest so those wild animals are dazzled with splendour, wear them to feel confident again, or just wear them to cover up the pudge starting to collect there and the fact that there is no impressive six-pack to go along with that shirtless-wilderness confidence.

We’re on to you Putin, can’t fool us.

Pale, pasty, white as can be. Even the chest hair has deserted those dusky nipples, or perhaps frozen off one cold shirtless night (Putin always sleeps shirtless, as he does during every activity in his life outside of more formal events), or perhaps the hair just got disgusted and crept away for a better, more fulfilled life. Either way, that shirtlessness cannot be unseen. Even with a thousand emergency eyewash stations, daily mediations with the masters in Tibet, and actual hypnosis, not the watch-swinging cartoon kind; but real hypnosis, like people-who-want-to-quite-smoking, hypnosis. How do you forget that chest?

Here are some helpful alternatives when the unfortunate image creeps into your cranium and makes you feel like a caffeine deprived mom at violin concert for seven-year-olds listening to the fifth squeaky version of Twinkle Twinkle.

First, try imaging the moist white skin of the Thanksgiving turkey that you brush with salt and other seasonings before shoving in the oven. Nothing weird about giving a dead bird a massage, nope, not at all. It’s not as if the turkey is still alive to tell you that you hit the right spot, or a little more down and to the left, please and thank you.

Second, imagine the type of beige rubber glove a dentist, or an anesthesiologist, or a person with a rubber glove fetish, or a baker behind a counter of cupcakes. No, wait, they probably wear clear gloves. Refer back to picture of Putin for correct skin color to match the imagined glove color to. Oh no! You saw it again. Now we’ll have to start all over from the beginning.

First the turkey. That nice, dead turkey. Move on to the gloves. Like a doctor would wear. Don’t get tripped up this time with color, just normal beige gloves.

Now imagine the color of a dolphin in the sunset, the kind of light that hits the slippery, gray skin and smoothes it into an even glowy color. Dolphins don’t really have hair, so don’t make the mistake of imagining any of that with the dolphin. Now, dolphins are mammals, so we know they must have hair somewhere. But it’s only the baby dolphins that are born with whiskers on their chin, these fall out sometime after they are born.

Spiral into thoughts about Putin as a baby sunset-dolphin. His whisker hairs detaching themselves in the water to float down to the bottom of the sea. So, that’s where those traitorous hairs went.

Google “Putin dolphin” without realizing what your thumbs are doing until it’s too late. What? He actually did swim with some dolphins? Well, that makes some sort of sense on further contemplation. After all, dolphins are the bastards of the sea, torturing their fellow porpoi about their weight issues, bouncing beach balls back and forth, not for show but just for the sheer amusement of keeping the beach children as an eternal monkey-in-the-middle. Haha, little monkeys, keep jumping, you almost had it.

Slowly return from this mind journey of sunset-Putin-dolphins, come back to your body. Who are you? What are you doing with your life? Wiggle the toes to test if the astral body has reunited to the physical. Yes, good. The connection is made.

How long has passed while you were away in that other dimension? Possibly a year, possible fifty years. If you have those good genes, maybe even a hundred. Continue to worry about the younger generations who have yet to Google the image, but it probably won’t be long, because they learned to speak technology in the womb, and vomit iphone operation solutions before age ten that you would never have even dreamed of.

We’ve got to protect them. The steps, written out in code form, saved to file and then emailed: first the turkey, then the gloves, and finally, the sunset-dolphin. But they might be confused without a reference. Attach a jpeg. of Putin.

Damn.

Now you’ve seen it again. Review steps for yourself. Rinse, repeat.


Abigal is a recent MFA graduate from Arcadia University just outside Philly, and her short stories have appeared in Maudlin House and Alban Lake Publishing, and are forthcoming in Dreaming Robot Press.