The Homunculus

The Homunculus

 originally published in Revolver. Read original here.

After all my other birthday presents had been opened, he had one last gift for me. It was a tiny box that he held out with such a grin that I became nervous. What is it? I asked. Just open it, he says. Inside was a tiny man, about 6 inches high. He was dressed in tiny polo jeans and a tiny madras shirt with pullover sweater, and he looked very much like a tiny version of my boyfriend.

It’s a homunculus, he says. Since I have to be out of town so much for work, and I know how much you hate being alone, this will be the perfect solution! It’ll be like we’re together all the time.

But how will I take care of him?

He’s a grown man, he can take care of himself.

It was a bit awkward at first, but my boyfriend reassured me it would be fine. So I put him in the inside pocket of my purse, where I keep special things like my mirror and my flash drive. He never complained, even when I once saw him all twisted under some lipsticks and dirty from the random filth that collects at the bottom of purses.

I felt bad, so I started taking him out more often, setting him on the table at meals. He got brave enough to sit at the edge of my plate and eat with me; I didn’t have tiny utensils, so he used his hands. He was always clean, even though he wore the same clothes, all the time. When I finally asked him about it, he just said, I’m a homunculus.

We were really hitting it off, which shouldn’t be surprising. He was just like my boyfriend—except tinier. And more available. We liked all the same things, of course. I let him ride in my breast pocket on my weekend bike rides. I started taking him out of the purse when watching a movie, sitting in front of the fireplace, and eventually I let him sleep on the pillow next to me. That first night I was terrified I would roll over and crush him, but he was fine in the morning and I started to relax, and then on one of those mornings I let him go beneath my panties when we were lying there, and things happened.

That’s when I started to feel guilty—what was my boyfriend going to think? But he’s the one that said it would be like we were together all the time. The more time that passed, the more I rationalized it to myself: this was ultimately going to be good for us, me being less needy, and all. But I didn’t want to admit the truth—I was falling for the little guy.

The first night my boyfriend got back into town was strange. It felt weird to sleep next to a full sized person again, and I lay awake for the longest night of my life, feeling worried about the homunculus, who was back in my purse.

The next morning after my boyfriend had left, the homunculus climbed out of my purse and found me on the pillows. Let’s run away, I suggested. I couldn’t stand the thought of not being with him. Suddenly the whole world was full of possibility again. Then I heard my boyfriend coming up the stairs. I left my tofu by the bed, he said. He stood in the doorway as I tried to hide the homunculus. But he must have seen it in my eyes, because he yanked the pillow away and there was the homunculus, trying to disappear between the folds of the comforter. His face contorted.

You backstabber! he yelled, snatching him and running down the stairs. I followed, screaming—don’t hurt him! For god’s sake you’re crushing him!

My boyfriend ran out the front door and across the street and all the way to the top of Jackass Hill, where he wound up his arm and threw my homunculus as far as he could. I saw his tiny dot fly through the air until he disappeared into the blue sky.

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