Replacement Parts – Short Story

Replacement Parts - Short Story Artwork - French Horn

I hope you like this week’s short story, “Replacement Parts”. Typo hunters are welcome. If you like this story, check out my other short stories that I post on Fridays. You can also buy my fiction collection, Crushes, if you’re into that.

Replacement Parts

I dropped the fifty on the white countertop and eyed how round my middle was in the bell of the French Horn on the stand by the register. I’m sure it really wasn’t, but I could almost see the jiggle when my arm hit my side. It was how I always imagined I’d realize I was fat, when the time came for it. I never guessed through a musical instrument exactly, but a funhouse mirror, maybe a trophy case, or something like that. When Tom came from the back with a ziplock back of bubble wrapped pieces, and exchanged the fifty for a twenty, Matthew must’ve felt his skills were needed.

“Every time someone loses one, you have to buy four?” Matthew switched from a smile to a pucker in-between the oversized chews of his bubble gum. Matthew cleared his throat and looked from the counter, ending on Tom with his chin down and his eyes up.

“Most people don’t lose these,” the man said. He looked at me. I had just watched myself through the brass as I poked my belly.

“Don’t you have to take these off to oil them?” My partner looked at me. When no one else talked, I picked up the twenty.

“It’s fine, Matthew. Thanks, Tom,” I said. The man behind the counter nodded as he squished his bottom lip with the muscle behind the other. I started towards the door with my box of valves. Matthew walked after me. When the bell dinged and the door shut, Matthew whispered to me on our way to his Honda Accord.

“Too much? That’s what you meant right? I can be too much sometimes?” He said. We crossed at the crosswalk. He put his hand on my back. “I just thought it would be like picking up a pick at the guitar store.”

“It wasn’t like that?” I asked on the other side of the street. He pulled his hand away. I went to the passenger door. When he got closer to the driver’s side, my door unlocked. I caught my reflection in the car window, my belly stretched thin this time. My head wrapped around a scratch in the glass, as tall as the storefront behind me.

“No, it wasn’t like that,” he said. He smiled before he went down to his seat. I watched my eyes in the mirror hanging on the visor until we got back to his place.

By Eric Shay Howard

Eric Shay Howard lives in Louisville, Kentucky. He's the author of the fiction collection, Crushes, and is a literary editor. He also works at a law firm and is writing his second book. He's a graduate student in the Bluegrass Writers Studio MFA in Creative Writing program at Eastern Kentucky University.

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