Chrome Face

by Troy Farah

First the bike tire started to hiss, then began to swing, making a flat, wet flapping sound, a soggy beaver tail against the asphalt, then a crunch in a gutter and Ethan was airborne. He landed with his teeth wrapped around a fire hydrant and woke up eight days later with a new face. 

“It’s the best new brand of face there is,” the doctor said. He held up a hand-sized mirror. Ethan’s skull glistened in its new chrome exoskeleton. His molars were platinum and his eyeballs were porcelain. 

“Nnnngh,” said Ethan. 

“Oh, don’t worry about that,” the doctor said. “You’ll be relearning how to speak before you know it.”


“See?” said the doctor. “You’re already getting the hang of your new vinyl tongue. You’ll be reciting Chaucer in no time.”

Ethan’s ex-wife was there, flown in from Tucson, and she cowered over the bed. She had bought him a teddy bear. She held it out. 

“I’m so glad they could save you,” she said. “Maybe we should reconsider things.” 

Speech therapy classes were held in an old Mennonite church that was briefly a gay bar and was now a recreation center. The other students had faces of emerald cuts, sapphire enamel, diamond trellis. The group leader herself was tempered turquoise and her opal teeth flared when she spoke. She sang the alphabet and made the sounds of farm animals and smacked her latex lips in a method she called “bilabial clicks” and the class did their best to follow along. 

“Smch smch smch,” she said and the class followed along, clicking like dolphins. 

At the end of the week, each student was summoned to the front of the class to give a short speech demonstrating their newfound ability to speak. Ezra, the pearl face, fluently spoke lyrical poetry while topaz-coated Charlie somehow channeled Orson Welles. Ethan, however, could only slobber in weak, blubbering squalls. 

He left the church sobbing and went home to find a note saying his ex-wife had changed her mind again. Fickle, he wanted to say, but it came out “pthkl.” 

He was walking to the bridge to walk the last walk he’d ever walk, when he saw a girl with a labradorite face standing on the rampart, clutching the suspension beam. He ran to her just as she leaned into the breeze. He caught her and her scarf blew into Ethan’s chrome face, and they both tumbled backwards to the concrete earth, their mineralized faces click-clacking against each other. When he got up and pulled her to her knees, he saw she was crying tears of sapphire.

Troy Farah is a journalist from Phoenix, Arizona. His work has appeared in VICE, Spillers #3, Every Day Fiction, Broke Journal, LitReactor, LA Weekly, Phoenix New Times, and more. His website is
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