New Voices: “The Split” by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam

April 8, 2016

In Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam’s New Voices story, “The Split,” a woman named Emma literally splits in two when she leaves her family and childhood home in Texas and moves to Oregon with her girlfriend. Emma’s two halves go on living their separate lives, in seprate states. “The Split” speaks to the parts of ourselves that we give up as we venture into adulthood.

When Emma moved to Oregon with her girlfriend she left part of herself behind. Her parents inhabited a two-story on eight acres in Texas where Emma had lived for the whole of her life. Oregon was an adventure. After all, she couldn’t rely on family forever. Here was a chance at a new family, built from the ground up. Emma seized it. But when she and Lin arrived at the rented house in Oregon, Emma realized she was missing half her body.

The hard part was getting out of the U-Haul with one arm and one leg. Lin hoisted Emma down and let Emma lean on her as they hobbled through the front door. She leaned Emma against the wall and carried in a chair from the truck.

“Thanks,” Emma said. “Guess I found a way out of unpacking.”

Neither was sure how they’d gone so long without realizing that Emma was missing a half. They’d been in the U-Haul for three days straight, stopping along the way at roadside rest stops and gas stations, but Emma, who with each mile had grown more lethargic, hadn’t once left the truck. Since Lin stocked up on Red Bull and caffeine pills, she hadn’t thought of relinquishing the wheel to Emma.

At the house, however, they were caught by the delicacy of the situation. With half a body, Emma lacked the strength she’d possessed before. She wasn’t able to lift her suitcase, let alone help lug the couch indoors. The neighbor boys offered to help, for a fee.

“What happened to her?” they asked when they saw Emma, half her head in her one hand.

“I’m sick,” she said with half her lips.

To read the rest of “The Split,” click here.


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