“Arms,” by Kate Lu

Dec 20th, 2010 | By | Category: Prose

When Philip had woken up this morning, he’d found that his arms had disappeared. 

“Well, this is no good,” he said, examining the smooth skin that now covered the place where his torso should have met his shoulder. He had no idea where they’d gone; he didn’t remember lending them out to anyone or leaving them somewhere. They must have either been stolen in the night or had walked off on their own—as much as arms can walk, anyway. 

Getting out of bed was difficult. So was trying to work the phone so he could call his boss and explain his situation. He set the phone on the floor and dialed with his toes. 

“Hey Mike, I’m sorry, but I don’t think I’ll be able to come in to work today,” Philip said. 

“Oh yeah?” Philip heard Mike yawn. “Why’s that?” 

“It appears I’ve misplaced my arms,” Philip said evenly. 

There was a long pause. “You’ve what?” said Mike. 

“Misplaced my arms,” Philip repeated. 

There was a click, and the line went dead. 

Philip decided that he would have to eat out for breakfast, because he wasn’t sure that cooking with his feet would be a good idea. He picked up his wallet with his teeth and headed up the block to the diner. 

Everyone stared when he walked in. He went up to the counter and ordered a plate of scrambled eggs before sitting down. 

“What happened?” The owner, Lulu, set his food in front of him. 

“Misplaced my arms,” Philip explained. He put his face into the plate and tried to eat. 

“I saw a man two blocks over selling some arms,” she said. “Maybe you should talk to him.” 

After Philip had finished eating, and Lulu had wiped the excess egg off his face, he went to find the vendor who was selling arms. He was a grizzled-looking man with salt-and-pepper hair and shifty eyes. He had a table covered in a black cloth, littered with disembodied, but perfectly healthy, arms. 

“Excuse me,” Philip said, walking up to the table. “I think you might have my arms.” 

The man looked astonished. He gibbered. “Your—I don’t think I— Couldn’t have—” 

“But they’re right there,” Philip said, pointing with his chin at a pair of pale arms sitting at the end of the table. “Look, I know times are hard, but can you just give them back, please? I won’t press charges, I just need them.” 

The vendor paled. “All right. I don’t want any trouble, okay?” He fitted Philip’s arms back on his shoulders. They were a little numb at first, but they felt natural once they had warmed up. 

“Thanks,” Philip said to the vendor. He turned around and headed home. 

When he woke up the next morning, though, one of his legs was missing. 

Philip sighed. “This is going to be a difficult day.”


Kate Lu, a native New Yorker, is currently a student majoring in English and Creative Writing at The George Washington University, where she is also the fiction editor of the G.W. Review. When she’s not writing, she enjoys taking epic walks around Washington, DC, and sassing people. Her work has previously appeared in Sillymess and Gone Lawn, and is forthcoming in The Battered Suitcase.

Tags: , , ,

Comments are closed.