E.K. Smith
         Across the street from a large hospital, a girl sat in the bar seat of the small café with the big name, calculating the world’s fate…. By blank year, blank many will die of blank, and that will constitute blank percent of all deaths in the world. She tossed around death counts as light-heartedly and almost as gracefully as a clown juggles his big red balls. Suddenly though, the inevitable happened. As the doctors behind her discussed where they’d completed their residencies and how wonderful Europe as a whole actually is, she felt an itch in the middle of her forehead. Despite seeing the moderate amount of dirt under her nails, she dismissed her hesitation in a split second and gave in to her primal urge. What she had failed to consider though was how incredibly sun-burnt her forehead was at that moment, and as a result, how flakey her skin there must have been. As she scratched away, she did not feel the Burma-sized skin flake loosening. In fact, she didn’t notice anything awry until she saw something fly into her five dollar Café Americano past the corner of her eye. Her immediate instinct was to look around her to ensure that no one had seen the unfolding of her unfortunate predicament. Convinced that her privacy had been preserved by the structure of the seating arrangements of the little café, she now allowed herself to ponder her moral dilemma with some sense of peace. What should she do? There were people in third world countries- people whose lives she was calculating- who would kill for a five-dollar cup of coffee, right? That’s what anybody’s mother would say anyway.
         Staring inside the cup, she noticed how perfectly the flake was floating in the middle of the brown ocean of caffeinated goodness. Her mind drifted to the constitution of the flake. It must have been comprised of thousands and thousands of her own cells, each containing five feet of DNA— that magical molecular basis of who we all are. Other than her own DNA, maybe a few of her cells had the DNA of some unknown virus that had recently attacked her face housed inside of them. That made them even more special to her. She loved reading about the pathophysiology of viral infections. And what about the bacteria? No, one cannot allow oneself to forget those crazy prokaryotes. There would definitely be Staph epidermis on that precious flake, but no one knows who else could currently be taking a coffee cruise. What if she left the flake in there? Was it possible that some of the bacteria would mutate into a caffeine-loving strain and take over coffee shops all over the U.S. all because of her little, seemingly unimportant, mishap? Or would all the poor little guys on her skin boat die because of the acidity? Would her own cells drown? Was her DNA decomposing in her drink? Having not too shabby of a background in biology, she knew that she was being unreasonable and that there were already tons of cells in her coffee from the moment she picked up her cup. It’s funny what visible things can do to the human psyche. Finally, knowing the drink was getting cold, she decided to be smart. She picked it up, swirled around the liquid, and docked the skin boat on the side of the paper cup. Sticking her borderline-chubby, pale finger in there for just a brief second, she wiped the skin flake off the wall of the cup and onto a napkin. Then she continued to enjoy her drink and mathematically determine the fate of the world.

©2012 This work is the property of the author.

  1. I enjoyed this piece by E.K. Smith, a writer new to MM. I think it conveys a good sense of the internal being at odds with the external world.

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