Aphelion Issue 244, Volume 23
October 2019
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The Tail

by Nikhil Kshirsagar

Z woke up one morning and realized his tailbone hurt. A quick visit to the doc was fruitless because the doc insisted the tailbone hurting was no big deal. But this was different.

A few days later, Z awoke from a typically sound sleep (zzz isn't affected by tailbone problems) and found a tail growing out of his lower back. 'Am I dreaming?' he thought. But it was no dream.

He tried wagging it and it made a curious left-right swish. At this point, the true horror of the situation kicked in, and Z yelled out loud, pinched himself, and sat down because his knees had suddenly become untrustworthy.

A (longer) visit to another doctor confirmed his suspicious that the tailbone was extending out of his body dramatically, and essentially growing a tail, was he. The doctor confirmed it via an x-ray, which cost 400 R. (The tail is essentially a bone, and bones are visible on x-rays). Z felt the x-ray had been unnecessary, but in such a state was he, that money had suddenly become one of the least important things on earth.

Unfortunately, apart from confirming his observation, the doctor had very little to offer in terms of solutions. He suggested cutting it off, but given that it was growing, and growing fast, he did not expect cutting it off to be of any help. ("It's a bit like nails", he explained, coolly, concealing his professional puzzlement expertly)

Z went home and worried himself to sleep, and woke up the next morning with a swish of his own tail hitting his face. This is bad. This is very bad. (he thought)

Once he stood up, he realized the full extent of the problem. Now that he had a fully grown tail, he couldn't go out, nor wear clothes, at least the fashionable ones. Wrapping a cloth around his lower half, he paced the room, frantically calling all the medical expertise at his disposal. (not much)

A few days later, his mother arrived home as a result of a frantic phone call, and found him sitting on his own tail, all curled up like tails do. (well at least he wasn't endlessly chasing it)

What she noticed was, Z was now 1/4th tail and 3/4th of his body seemed to have accomodated the rest of his earlier stature. I'm not sure whether she was more shocked at the tail, or at the shrunken shoulders, the missing neck, and the halved back.

As mothers are wont to do, she worried, worried, and worried till he sent her off back to her own house, and realized calling anybody for help was futile. This was his, and his problem alone, he thought, while angrily swishing his tail about and knocking things down to the floor. (from shelves)

A few days later, there was a head (no hair now), and the rest was all tail, (in fact a second one sprouted out from the bone-blossoms of the base of the first...) and he'd rounded out the edges of his body somehow, and had a curious metallic taste in his mouth all the time.

He was now a coin, and was flipped about at the start of cricket matches, to decide which team batted first.

The beauty of it was, nobody actually cared for the suffering of a coin. All they wanted was to know which team bats first.

2019 Nikhil Kshirsagar

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