Story 10Button 10



Those plastic things hooked in a line, from her throat – the V of her collarbone – down to her stomach, like a list of eyes the colour of a dilated pupil. She looks at me and smiles with her teeth, and her teeth look like buttons, and there is no way I could get any closer to that, she'll taste of plastic and I'll choke on her as if she is a button herself.

It's strange how quick she moves compared to me. I cannot move, I'm fastened to the hardwood floor. Her hands are by her side but I don't move my hands. I pretend I am in control and I look at her clothing and the pieces of plastic holding them together, which are looking at me – little eyeballs of a CCTV biologically inserted intravenously with nerve endings and wires and veins into her body.

She says something about unbuttoning.

I say something like I'm not entirely sure that would be appropriate.

She frowns and takes to the motions of unbuttoning her clothes, as I rub my hands together so as not to touch the plastic discs, which I imagine feel smooth between my fingers. Black like coffee, white like cream – or cataract of a blind eye – I can taste the plastic in my mouth as the first button is undone and it's like coins sliding down my gullet, more and more, choking me with the acrylic taste on my tongue, right at the back of my tongue, touching my tonsils and scraping at the bitter taste buds.

I want to be sick, I say.

She says something like, Oh no, it is me? What have I done wrong?

I say, Of course not. But I cannot carry on this conversation because I've been trying to hold my breath. The talking has brought a quick release of carbon dioxide and the reaction of oxygen in my head sends me blind for a second.

I am now sitting down, looking at her face, my dizziness giving her four eyes like a button. She tells me I look pale. The rest of what she says is white noise from a radio. She is sitting so close to me that the buttons are almost touching my hand, and I'm frozen again. Don't move, don't move, don't be sick, don't be sick.

I tell her it's okay, I'm fine, I just felt a bit dizzy. And then I sit back into the cool leather couch. The buttons are undone, I don't have to look at her now- but her eyes, great big black buttons, just staring at me.

Pick a button