The Girl in the Glass Case by Matthew Di Paoli
Fred sat in his bedroom surrounded by his collection of plants. His Coralberry, his Chinese evergreen, and his Dumb Cane. He’d heard talking to the plants was healthy, so he did. And through the plants, he stared into the glass case hidden away in his closet where the light could never touch it.
His room hadn’t changed much since he started going to college — white door, spotted green comforter, and a “rocking horse” in the shape of a sheep. He’d always had a large walk-in closet. On the wall, two hefty black fighter planes hunted seven smaller green planes. It would have been a slaughter if the wall were any longer. “You go to college in the city, and you stay here,” his father had said. “A boy your size should never pass up free rent.”
Fred didn’t like it when his father talked about his size. Though he was a bit small, he knew. Sometimes his classmates would ask him out for drinks because he wasn’t bad looking or weird or anything like that, but he always said “no.” He’d head straight home and into his room.
That was the reason they’d gotten the girl in the glass case, anyway: his general smallness. The Foster’s down the street did it for their boy, and the boy’s therapist said it had produced “very positive results.” Still, like any new treatment, there were doubters, protesters, and moralists — those who couldn’t see the future. They waved signs outside of the breeding factories that said things like “Glass Case Girls Are People, Too,” and “Break Glass In Case Of Emergency.”
Fred spent hours in his room. Sometimes, like Tuesday, his parents would worry, and his mother would send his father to the door. “What are you doing in there, little guy?”
“I’m trying to calculate the worth of a man’s soul,” said Fred.
“Any luck?” said his dad, his ear against the door.
“So far I’ve gotten it down to a buck fifty.”
His father laughed because he’d always found his son a little funny, but then concern set into his voice. “You’re not obsessing over that case again are you?”
It was true, Fred had become very fond of the girl in the glass case. He’d even named her Lorelei. The instructions expressly forbade such intimacy.
“You know,” said his father, “I told your mother it was a bad idea to get a young boy a girl in a case, but she knew otherwise. ‘It’ll keep him from moving away,’ she said. ‘He’s got to learn sometime.’ Blah, blah, blah. I just — there’s the old-fashioned way, too.”
Fred stared deeply into the glass case, wishing he could hold her. Her skin glowed even in the darkness, and the shadows of her lips moved slightly as if speaking, though he heard nothing. He imagined the countless wonderments a girl of her body type might have to offer, and he figured she probably had a name of her own. She was slender. They were all slender unless you made a special order, and that cost extra. Short, shorter than he was. As it said in the manual: “A girl in a glass case must be four centimeters shorter than her proprietor unless otherwise specified.” She had very full breasts, but no belly button. Blonde. She had to be blonde. Maybe living in a glass case all your life gave you a different perspective on the human condition, thought Fred.
After finishing an outline to his philosophy paper, Fred snuck into his parents’ room. They were out practicing pottery, he suspected. He rummaged around his mother’s jewelry box and found her engagement ring, which wasn’t that big, but he figured could cut glass nonetheless.
Back in his room, he moved the plants aside and approached the open closet. She moved inside the glass case. There was enough room for her to lie down and a forest green coffee table for her to play solitaire and eat, but nothing else. He imagined it as a beautiful aquarium, but instead of a damselfish, he kept a sultry, unclothed woman inside made just for him. He wondered if she thought about it the same way. Probably not, he realized. He used the ring to slice a small hole in the glass. It made a horrible screeching sound that forced Lorelei to cover her pallid ears. Fred pressed his ear against the tiny, jagged cavity.
His body shook with anticipation. “You can whisper to me,” he said.
“What would I say to you?” she asked.
‘Til Death Do Us Party
Call for Help
What Pavel Found
The Girl in the Glass Case
The Teacher’s Connection
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