When the corporation finally comes to bed, he bites her throat, branding her with his mouth, which consoles her. Relationships are work, he informs her.
What is she to him? The rugged individual? The nanny state? She’s insecure, has never felt sure in their relationship–though she likes what he gives her, that’s certain, even if she sometimes wonders if the culture presets her to need what he provides. She offers him chocolates, expensive vacations, tax breaks, each the trace of her affection.
He fattens up, slowly at first, then overnight his bulk consumes the space they once shared. Grown too big, his heart stops.
When they come for him—other corporations, mostly, though some entrepreneurs drop by; parts for sale, cheap—they split him up piecemeal. His mind goes first, in a bidding war. They cart away his arms, his legs, the tire round his middle. She watches, mourns, remembers their first meeting. Him, an upstart in a cheap suit. Her eager, unformed, until he gave her something to want.
Even as scavengers divide the spoils (is this purchase, merger, or theft?) — lymph nodes, brand name, customer base, arterial blood — she wants to be supportive (this is what he would have wanted, isn’t it?), because she loves who she was when she was with him. She collects his leftovers: Fax machine. Tendon slippery with gristle. Rotary phone. Collapsed lung. An office chair missing one wheel. His big toe. Presents for the next corporation come to woo her–larger than life and fiercely desirous—marking
her neck with brittle stolen teeth.
Brooke Wonder’s previous work has appeared in Monkeybicycle, Brevity: A Journal of Concise Nonfiction, Clarkesworld, and elsewhere. She is a PhD candidate at the University of Illinois at Chicago.