Splinters By Brigid Hughes

Hesitation by Anne Garvey

*Featured Image: “Hesitation” By Anne Garvey


By Brigid Hughes

At the hospital I met a young woman who’d smashed a light bulb, poured the glass into her afternoon Diet Coke, and drank it. Then she called her husband to tell him what she’d done.

He wanted to leave me for another woman, she whispered to me. But there would be no permanent damage from the light bulb, she explained. She was disappointed.

Still, the splinters of glass remained. It was painful. She doubled over all the time. She was the only one allowed not to eat. The rest of us scooped food into our mouths with sporks three times a day. Then we all went out to the yard, framed with barbed wire, and smoked cigarettes. The nurses had to light them for us, so all you could hear was scratch scratch scratch whenever people wanted more.

The mattresses were made from plastic, so that shit or piss could be wiped away easily. They had pumped my stomach. No one told me they put the tube up your nose and into your stomach. If they had, maybe I would have thought about a light bulb. My shit was black from the activated charcoal for days. But I never shit the bed. I just spent my time wishing the pills had done their job. It was a real letdown.

Artist Anne Garvey self portrait
“Self Portrait” By Artist Anne Garvey

After a few days, the woman with the light bulb in her stomach was going home. It turned out she was a mother, and her children were missing her. We tried to do a puzzle together in the common room. She didn’t seem concerned about her kids. They were young, and they would recover.

What about your husband, I asked. What did he think?

Oh he’s back, she said, her eyes all lit up. She was the happiest person I’d ever seen.

So it worked, I said.

It worked! she said. Then she doubled over again, waiting for the pain to subside.


Brigid Hughes is a memoirist, essayist, and fiction writer from San Francisco. Her pieces have been featured in several publications including The Rumpus, sparkle + blink magazine, and the anthology Fifteen from 826 Valencia released in October 2017. Her website  is brigidhughes.com.

Anne Garvey is a visual artist who resides and works in Oakland, California. Her paintings and drawings strive to represent both the inner and outer realities of human existence. "I am particularly interested in mental states such as anxiety, hope, anticipation, and despair- and the methods we employ to either alter or prolong these states. The cords, knives, and other images are not only metaphors for thought processes, but serve as problems in themselves to be solved, by myself as well as the viewer. In doing so, we are reminded of the almost constant battles we face within ourselves, while recognizing a shared commonality." See more of her work at www.annegarveyart.com

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