The Magician

He sawed her down the middle and lifted a section out. It was no trick: he gave the bloody piece, spleen, appendix, gallbladder, to a little girl to take home as a souvenir. He was careful not to remove anything vital, but she was two inches shorter when he pushed the pieces of her back together—firmly—and asked her to stand and spread her arms and show the audience her smile.
The next show, he couldn’t avoid a piece of her stomach. A few yards of intestines. The crowd screamed, men and women both. Little boys cried.
Her appetite suffered. Her costume drooped. Feathers and sequins that had once stood taut against her skin sagged and bounced.
“Can’t you work some other part of my body?” she asked.
The next night, he cut off her feet. She wore her peacock blue slippers and he gave one bloody foot to each of two pretty young girls sitting in the front row.
“What kind of awful trick is this?” the dark one asked him. Her friend dropped the foot and ran.
“What kind of trick?” the magician asked. “Look,” he said. “Look, the girl survives.”

Lena Bertone writes and teaches in Syracuse, New York, the most beautiful, gloomy place there is. Her work has appeared in Redivider, Puerto Del Sol, and Hayden’s Ferry Review.