Alice’s Atlas

Alice has a scar on her left wrist from when she forgot to pierce the eggplant and it exploded the second she opened the oven door. That was a day before her wedding, but none of the guests noticed. The kitchen doesn’t belong to her anymore, but that damned scar’s still there. It even outlasted Joe. She laughs a little every time she sees it and doesn’t bother covering it with a watch or bracelet or rubbing in vitamin E oil.
On the inside of one ankle (same side), Alice’s flesh is puckered and stretched. New Year’s Eve in Paris. She hooked up with a tall guy from Perth at Harry’s Bar and they kicked empty champagne bottles in the Champs-Élysées. Correction: Alice kicked a bottle and it kicked her right back. At one in the morning, she sat in a Red Cross tent with a plump French nurse insisting on stitches and the Perth guy insisting on cleaning the wound himself. She decided in favour of the Wild Turkey at the flat and hobbled home with a stranger, singing Waltzing Matilda along the streets of Montparnasse.
Dark spots freckle her forearms— memories of an island sun on infant skin. The term SPF didn’t exist back in 1969 while Alice and her mother waited out the war out on a beach of pink sand. Dad waited on a different beach. Alice never knew him.
If you look very hard, you’ll see all that remains of a pressure cut on her right knee. She barely remembers sliding across the floor, thick with unmoppable grease, at the restaurant she managed during her last summer before college. The Jersey boy who bandaged her up (and later that night kissed her lips for the first time) now lives somewhere in Ohio with his wife and kids. Alice still talks to him, but not very often.
She has two scars no one can see: one on her cervix, the other in her heart. Alice got them both at the Marie Stopes clinic in London four years ago when they took her little girl out. Her mother-in-law died the same day on another continent.
Twin red pinpricks from this spring’s biopsy dot her breasts and show themselves whenever Alice wears that seersucker sundress. They remind her of how things might have turned out, but didn’t.
She is still around, somewhere in the American South, the land of Styron and crabs and barbecue.




Christina Dalcher is a linguist and novelist. She doesn’t own a mobile phone; she hasn’t watched television since Seinfeld aired. Home–for the time being–is the land of Styron, crabs, and barbecue. Her short bits can be found in The Molotov Cocktail, Saturday Night Reader, Pidgeonholes, Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, and Platform for Prose. Alec Shane of Writers House represents Christina’s long work.




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Cover Photo: kcw1939 (