Tweezers, Tongs, Pincer-Grip
Jason DeYoung


As if she expected visitors, Shirley reasoned it too early in the day to masturbate. In its place she chose to shun nascent ancestral traits middle years had brought on by tweezing darkening eyebrows over a mellowed half-moon throwup cup. (Not saving hairs exactly—just tidiness under a low-volume lite-rock she played to keep her company.) The attentive x5-side of her vanity mirror harnessed sunlight and shone it on the roseate of flesh between her eyes where she rubbed spiritedly the sting after liberating each hair. “The uncomely becomes comely,” she tittered aloud (her voice itself somewhat magnified by her vision). Her left green eye enlarged and flirty.

At that moment, between pluckings and considerations—of time, disappointments, and absences—the general loneliness of the heart—the meteor that had been traveling toward Shirley since before she was born pierced her roof, zip-seared through her unvented living room, and bull’s-eyed her stereo, sputtering a mid-day Hall & Oats triple-shot.

The clatter rocked Shirley off her stool and onto the floor.

Eyes wide, elbow sunk in carpet, she listened to the final crunching shards of falling ceiling and avian cackles afresh through the meteor’s entry. Then Shirley crawled cautiously toward the heaven-blackened remnant of her stereo.

She peeked inside. She judged the meteor. A simmering nugget the size of a large bullet nested in the stereo’s wires and boards. Bedridden was the word that came to mind when she thought what if it’d hit me? Misfire was another one.

She retrieved from her kitchen silicone-tipped tongs and pulled the smoldering rock out. It was as brown as a toddler’s turd. She turned it over and over expecting something to come from it. Ever looking for signs, she thought its looks gravid despite its small density. What magnitude it must have lost in its fireball! Purified.

With her free hand, she nipped at the gold cross gummed to her chest, and then she brought the rock to her nose. Scent of all the worlds—outer and inner. I’m going to eat that, she thought, and then shook her head no. The pecking order of her thoughts confused her: What to do with a speck of space dust?

She deposited it in the throwup cup and rattled it around, cozying it up with her short, age-angled eyebrows. Who should she call, if anybody? She squinted up through the hole the meteor had punched, exposing the second story bath and a basketball-sized spy of sky in the roof. Was there now a hole in the sky over her head, a hole that lead directly to outer space? Meaningful? Yes. How late was it?

Antediluvian and knobby, she hovered a hand over it and felt its warmth: What kind of ancient pleasures could it hold traveling for so long and for so far to blow out my radio? She thought of seeing how it would fit within her lonely integument. Unrealistic. But still, coitus with the cosmos sounded intriguing. The sleazy thought quivered in her mouth, and then she spat on the rock, sensing, yes, her loneliness’s extinction.

Obliterated by universal oneness! “Foolishness.”

With a second trip to the kitchen, she collected an oven mitt.

Shirley pincer-griped her meteor and brought it a little closer. What to do? With it between her fingers, thoughts became muddier and muddier until they weren’t such a bother, crushed by the terror of manna meeting biology.

But once its interstellar heat had diminished enough, Shirley unzippered her robe and brought the stone to her matt of graying hair. With the meteor’s initial stroke, she felt the primal tickle to nurse.



Jason DeYoung is a fiction, essay, and travel writer living in Washington, DC. His work as appeared or is forthcoming in Los Angeles Review, New Orleans Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Gargoyle, and Harpur Palate, among others. He was a contributing editor to Not For Tourists: Guide to Washington, DC, and a former Managing Editor of Poet Lore.