My Flea Beloved
By Micah Dean Hicks
Stepping inside my house, something like a bell falls on me from the ceiling. I drop my briefcase, and three pairs of saw-like legs wrap around the backs of my thighs, my waist, my neck. The stiff hairs lance through my shirt and scrape my skin. The giant flea shoves her proboscis into my mouth and impales my tongue.
The first suck of blood feels like an elevator dropping, and then I am calm, calm, too calm to worry. I feel something light on the flea’s back, slide my hands across the sandy scales of her abdomen until I have it in my hands. I pull the strands through my fingers and hold them up over her shoulders: my flea has the loveliest golden hair.
Her proboscis jerks my tongue to the side, against my teeth, and her spines twitch. I stroke the hair softly. It’s all right, I think, certain that she can hear my thoughts. Everything is lovely, I think to her. You’re lovely. This is lovely.
She shivers and disengages her bloody mouth, pushing against me with her legs and trying to turn away. My tongue is withered and sticks to the bottom of my mouth.
I shake my head, no, clutch her tighter, bury my face in the hair. So much hair, damp smelling, with a little curl to the ends. She makes an unhappy buzzing from inside her flattened body, her back to me in my arms. She flicks her mighty thighs, but I have her. She is repulsed by me. I see it it plain. But she chose me, and I won’t let her give up on this so easily.
I smooth that blond stream down against her segmented back, let it drop along the overlapping plates like a waterfall, twist it into braids so I can unbraid it and smooth it again.
She can only take the impropriety so long. After a day, she dies. Her body grays in my arms, the hairs grow brittle and pop off her head like cables. I collect a bouquet of them in my fist. Something to remember her, I think, but the pieces fracture further in my hands and sift down into the rug. Her body curls into ash, and I can find no more of her golden hairs, not in the carpet, not on my coat, not around the attic vent she crawled from.
I am a desperate man for days, wandering around my attic. One morning, I take a bus to the pound, hold every dog close to me and whisper into its fur, I need you back. I can’t find a flea who’ll have me.
Going home, I am alone in my bus seat until a woman steps on. She sits next to me, her yellow hair settling against my shoulder. It’s darker than yours was, a little shorter, but I know how it will feel between my fingers.
She smiles at me, hands on the book in her lap. My love would burn you up, I think.
She sees me staring at her hair, asks if I want to touch it.
I’ll burn you, but I say nothing. Instead, I stroke the ends, those softly curling ends.