The girl was short, although she appeared to be fully-grown, and had tiny ears that she drew attention to by leaving her head defiantly bare. It was January, and the sun was shinning but the air was cold, and everyone, looking at the girl’s tiny red ears, immediately thought: Frostbite! The simple act of uncovered ears bringing the passers-by who passed this girl by into communion in a way that neither politics nor music ever could. The girl sparked a desire to impart warmth. The girl was fully-grown, though short, and walked along the street with her ears uncovered. The girl was a woman. I wanted to cup my hands around her tiny ears and fill them with warm air. This desire quickly outran itself and soon I was fondling a fantasy of her in my bed, my breasts pushing up against her own; the warmth of women’s thighs. The woman showed a total disregard for reality. The woman had sat down on a snowy bench and taken a book from her purse. She was reading. The snow had stopped and a woman with tiny uncovered ears was sitting directly below my window reading a book. And (presumably) getting a bad case of frostbite. I imagined the woman without ears. I imagined the doctor who would remove the ears. I imagined the different sounds the woman would hear once the flesh that channeled sound into the hearing parts of her ears had been removed. No more earrings for that woman. I looked out my window to where she sat with her book below me, oblivious to her tiny red ears that were exposed to such great risk. I consulted the thermometer that hung outside. It read thirty below. The degrees were Celsius. I looked at the woman and her tiny red ears looked back at me and shouted: Frostbite! I wanted to bring her up into my bed. Her coat was red, a deeper red than her tiny ears, and I pictured the woman entering my apartment and unzipping her coat. Unzipping her red coat and placing it over the back of a chair and then putting her hands to her tiny red ears as though it were only cool outside and not dangerously cold. I wanted her to be warm. I knew that if I walked out into the street the snow would squeak under my boots. I put my hands to my own ears. The woman sat below my window, oblivious to me. My apartment, which I had selected for its view over the park, had become a prison. I reveled in the thought of her amputated ears. I dangled unwearable earrings in front of her face. I pushed her naked body out of my bed and into the snow, watching as her flesh became swollen and red. I turned from the window and went to my closet. In the cupboard a pair of black earmuffs hung from a hook. I went back to the window. The window was frozen shut. I put a kettle on and paced until the boiling began. I poured scalding water around the window frame. The heat fogged the window to opacity and sent a sharp jagged crack through the glass. The window came loose, and I stood with my arms outstretched, looking at a book abandoned on a bench. My fingers holding black earmuffs began to turn red.
Sasha Laing is from Meaford, Ontario.