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magazine coverI’ll always remember the quick teaser Anne sent us for this story: “Gwen is having some trouble with George and Gracie—her breasts. A new bra is all that stands between her and a life out of control.” Little did I know when Anne sent “Still Life with Boobs” that it would end up as a finalist on the Nebula ballot for best fantasy short story of the year. Then again, I did know right away it was one special story. And so, of course, here it is here. It was also reprinted in David Hartwell’s Year’s Best Fantasy 6. The cover for #30 was one of several that Northwest artist Jeff Sturgeon did for us.



She could no longer ignore the fact that her breasts were going out at night without her. Gwen stood in front of the bathroom mirror and gave George and Gracie a long hard stare. They bore marks she knew they had not acquired in her presence; scratches, smears of dirt and other, less identifiable substances.

“Shit,” she swore under her breath. “What do you want from me?” But George and Gracie just stared back at her innocently with their cold-puckering nipples, like two children caught making mud pies in their Sunday clothes.

They hadn’t looked so innocent when she’d caught up with them last night in the back room of Menzer’s Art Supply.

She’d fallen asleep in front of the television again. That was her routine these days, plop on the couch with a carton of peppermint stick ice cream and let prime time rob her of the capacity for coherent thought.

When she and David were still together they’d have stimulating conversations about art and politics. She’d watch him paint or they’d go to art openings. She hadn’t minded her job back then, because she was working to foster something she believed in; David’s art.

It was David who named her breasts George and Gracie. He had a regular puppet show he’d do. “Say good night, Gracie,” he’d say in a deep voice, jiggling the left one. In a high-pitched voice he’d answer, “Good night Gracie,” as he jiggled the right one. And then he’d kiss them, his mouth soft and open, with a flicker of his tongue that still sent shivers down her spine, just thinking about it. Gwen sighed and stepped into the shower.

She’d nodded off last night sometime between Law & Order and Conan O’Brien, awakening again around two-thirty in the morning. An old black-and-white movie painted the room in flickering shades of noir and the ice cream had melted and leaked out the bottom of the carton, forming a pink lake in the middle of the coffee table.

When she got up to clean the mess she realized her breasts were gone. She ran her hands over the blank, flat place where George and Gracie should be, and felt a tremor of panic deep inside. She’d had this dream before, she thought, and pinched the featureless flesh hard. It hurt. The ice cream dripped off the edge of the table. She wasn’t dreaming.

She threw on a sweater, sweatpants, and a pair of slippers and ventured out into the hallway of the apartment building just in time to see the elevator doors closing. Without stopping to consider if breasts even know how to use an elevator, Gwen plunged down the stairs.

But the lobby was deserted. She ran out onto the street and fancied she saw two small round objects rolling around the corner. She hurried after them and found herself in an alley behind a row of shops. The night was windy and damp. She shivered and wondered how her breasts could stand it. Up ahead, a door was just closing. Gwen ran to it, pulled on the handle and found it unlocked.

There was a small step up into a short hallway. Light leaked out from a doorway up ahead and she moved toward it. The muted thump of an insistent disco beat grew louder with every step she took. Gwen peeked around the edge of the doorway into a storeroom lit with Christmas lights. A disco ball made out of foil candy wrappers hung from the ceiling. Somewhere a stereo pounded out “Do You Wanna Touch Me?” by Rod Stewart.

Dozens of detached body parts cavorted about the room. There were penises, pussies, breasts, mouths, and even a couple of asses. She spotted George and Gracie off in one corner, wobbling lustily up and down the shaft of some rampant dick.

Shocked, Gwen started toward them, wading ankle-deep through bundles of bobbing flesh. George and Gracie froze in their cavorting, their nipples swiveling to face her like dark brown bull’s eyes. They made a little squeal she didn’t know breasts were capable of and darted for the doorway.

She ran after them. George and Gracie were remarkably swift for having no feet. They were out the back door before she could catch up with them. Gwen burst through the doorway and completely forgot about the step. She pitched forward, landing hard on the concrete. Groaning she lifted her head and saw a pair of men’s brown oxford shoes. She gasped, staggering to her feet. “Hey, careful now. You okay?” said the guy, and she got a vague impression of light brown hair and a white shirt. He put his hands out to steady her, but just grazed her sleeve as she fled down the alley.

She never did catch up with George and Gracie, but they came home sometime before dawn, and when she awoke, there they were, looking pretty much as she would have expected. Grimacing, Gwen got a good lather going on her body puff, closed her eyes, and scrubbed.

Late for work again, Gwen charged into her bedroom and grabbed panties and pantyhose from the clean pile by the bed. But she couldn’t find a bra. She definitely needed a bra. She rummaged around in the bottom of the closet where she generally threw everything she didn’t want to deal with. She really had to clean this mess up, she thought as she tossed aside a butterfly net she’d had since she was six.

Finally she found a black lace bra she’d bought back when she was still with David. It was far from ideal. Under the circumstances, she’d prefer full coverage and reinforced straps, but there was no time to worry about that. She sniffed the bra to determine if it was clean enough, decided it was, and put it on.

After work that day Gwen and her friend Tammi browsed through racks of bras at Target. They both worked at J. Thomas Design, Tammi in sales, Gwen in accounts receivable.

“I can’t believe you put up with that crap from Charlie Axel, Gwen,” said Tammi, tilting her curly brown head to one side and flashing her a glistening lip-gloss grimace. “I don’t care how great a designer he is, he wouldn’t call me a lower life form and walk away from it.”

“I believe his exact words were, ‘I won’t put up with this constant badgering from some low-level bean counter,’” Gwen corrected her.

“Yeah, after he dumped a foot-high stack of memos and specs on your desk and told you to sort through them yourself. And you probably will. Why does that guy have you so whipped? Don’t tell me it’s the artist thing.”

Gwen shrugged. “He is talented,” she admitted. “His multi-media piece, ‘Bart Simpson’s Guernica,’ won first prize in a juried show at the Pierce Gallery.”

Tammi gave her a sour look and changed the subject. “So, what’s the occasion for new lingerie? Could it be the ice age has ended at last? Do you have a date? Who is it?” Tammi grinned and elbowed Gwen in the ribs. “Is it the new guy in accounting? He’s got a cute butt.”

Gwen shook her head. “It’s not for a date. It’s for my breasts.”

“Well, duh!” Tammi held up a leopard print underwire with black lace trim and eyed it critically.

“No,” Gwen shoved aside a frothy lavender concoction and pulled out a white cotton sports bra. “I mean I need something more substantial, something . . . architectural, if possible.”

Tammi cast a doubtful eye at Gwen’s bust line. “I don’t know if they make those kind in your size. You usually don’t see those ‘foundation garment’ grandma bras in anything less that a 40 C. Besides, you don’t need it. All you need is a little underwire, a little shaping.” She took the sports bra from Gwen and hung it back up again. Twisting her bangle bracelets she shrugged and said, “Maybe a little padding?”

Gwen rolled her eyes. “I need a lot more than that.”

Tammi frowned. “Oh come on! What are you complaining about? You’re beautiful.” Her mouth quirked in irritation. “You wouldn’t have any trouble finding guys if you’d just get out a little more. Which reminds me, Buzz wants to go to Moosejaw’s next Friday for dinner and drinks. He’s got this friend Tom, and I was thinking, he could bring Tom, and you could join us.” She wiggled her eyebrows.

Gwen sighed and turned to the Playtex stand, rifling through the cardboard boxes, trying to find something in her size. “I don’t think so, Tammi. I’m not much in the mood for dating right now.”

Tammi rolled her eyes. Her chewing gum gleamed pink between her whitened teeth. “Gwenny, I love you, but you have got to get out of this rut.”

She was in a rut, Gwen admitted to herself. She’d thought it was a comfortable rut, but now that had changed. You could hardly describe a rut in which your breasts were detaching from your body and getting into God knows what as being comfortable. “All right,” she said. “I’ll go.”

That night Gwen sat cross-legged on the floor of her closet, rooting through old clothes and boxes still packed from when she’d moved here after her breakup with David.

In a far corner of the closet, beneath a red sequined dress Tammi had talked her into buying, she unearthed a carefully sealed cardboard box about the size of a bowling ball. For a split second she had no recollection of it, and then, like the sinking of an unsinkable ship, her mind capsized, plunging into remembrance and giving her a good long look at the rest of the iceberg.

She was seventeen, and she was going to be a famous sculptor.

Unbidden, Gwen’s hands peeled back the tape on the box.

She loved the smooth, slippery feeling of wet clay, the act of molding it in her hands, the damp earth smell and the rich golden-red color.

The flaps of the box squeaked against each other as she pulled them open. The newspaper rustled and fell away like shed scales as she lifted the statue out.

Sitting in her room at night, naked in front of the mirror, seeing herself . . . touching herself . . . as a woman for the first time. In art class the next day molding the clay with her memory as a model. Forming her face, her body, with her hands, exploring herself as she sculpted the figure. And when she was finished, her art teacher, Mr. Teslop, standing over her, telling her that it was “exquisite” and “very advanced.” Her body rushing with pleasure at his words. She quickly agreed to his suggestion to enter it in the district art competition.

And she won. Oh, how sweet it had felt, standing there in the Menamanee County Convention Center as the judge tied the blue ribbon around her statue and she smiled into popping flashbulbs and they ran her picture in the paper. Her statue went on display back at the high school, right in there with the football and wrestling trophies. She got a little jolt every time she passed it.

Gwen sat cross-legged on the floor of her closet and held herself in her lap, running her fingertips over her tiny clay face, her shoulders, her breasts. Trapped in their new, full coverage bra, George and Gracie tingled. What pleasure it had been to feel the clay taking form in her hands, to see a thing of beauty and to think, I made that.

And then came the next day. The last day of her sculpting career. Walking to civics class with her “friend” Charlene Ryans.

“Oh, is that your statue?” asked Charlene as the display case came into view. And Gwen’s own prideful, foolish, “Yes.”

They paused before the statue as Charlene peered at it, and Gwen’s heart swelled with more pride, more idiotic self-satisfaction.

“Oh my God, Gwen,” said Charlene and Gwen prepared to receive her admiration for this great work of art. Then Charlene turned to her and said, “Is that you?”

Gwen’s big, swollen prideful heart was ripped right out of her. Her face went red. Charlene laughed, and very loudly in the crowded hallway cried, “Oh my God, Gwen, you sculpted yourself naked. It’s a self-portrait!”

Soon after that her sculpture was removed from the case of honor and returned to her in a square cardboard box. But long after it was gone, the statue haunted her. She was “Boobs” Bramble after that, all the way through high school.

Gwen sighed and put the statue back in its box. She was about to close it when she hesitated, and then all at once, not giving herself time to consider it, she took it back out, ran into the living room and set it down on the coffee table. She stood back, waiting for what she didn’t know, an explosion, or Charlene Ryans pounding on her door. But nothing happened.

Moosejaw’s was a new wilderness-themed restaurant next to Costco.

The menu was sprinkled indiscriminately with game in much the same manner as the walls were festooned with every kind of backwoods paraphernalia imaginable. There was even a stuffed bear standing just inside the door, a box of menus wedged between its paws. Gwen had to admire the logic. There was something about sitting beneath an owl rowing a birch bark canoe that made eating boar empanadas seem normal.

“So I said, the best way to maximize your potential is to proactively pursue advantageous opportunities and contacts,” said Tom. He was in his mid-forties with wavy chestnut-brown hair and freckles. “Be an evangelist of your product. People can’t resist a prophet, or a profit. Hey, I like that! Be a prophet of profit.” He whipped a Palm Pilot out of his breast pocket and jotted his bon mot down. “I’m collecting all these inspirational sayings for my book, 101 Things To Do When There’s Nothing You Can Do. See, the first lesson is, there’s always something you can do.” Tom took a drink of his Rusty Nail and leaned closer to her. “Look at me. Two years ago I was at rock bottom. My second marriage had just fallen apart, I owed the IRS $75,000 in back taxes, and I hated my job. Now thanks to Maxway, I’m living proof that no dream is out of reach if you can identify it.” He fixed her with a manic stare. “Do you have a dream, Gwen?”

George and Gracie stirred inside her bra, and Gwen crossed her arms to quell them. “I — I don’t know,” she stammered, but obviously her breasts were of a different opinion. They quivered and surged. She tightened her arms.

“It’s okay,” said Tom, “I was afraid at first too, but realizing what you really want is the hardest part. Once you do that, the rest is easy.”

George and Gracie wiggled beneath her entrapping arms. “No, really, I’m very happy.”

Tammi snorted. “Yeah, right.”

Gwen’s breasts gave up trying to pry free from her arms and started sliding down instead. George made a break for it and Gwen grabbed at her, elbowing her wine glass in the process. The glass twirled on its base and Gwen reached for it, her fingers glancing off the rim and knocking it off orbit. The glass tumbled to the table, spilling Chardonnay across the nachos with venison and sage sausage.

“Oh!” cried Gwen as George and Gracie squeezed through the bottom of her bra and rolled out from beneath the hem of her blouse. She thrust her hands into her lap, grasping for their warm, pliable flesh, but they tumbled free. Gwen ducked her head beneath the polyurethaned raw oak table, but it was dark down there, and the pale mound beside Buzz’s shoe was only a crumpled paper napkin.

The rest of the evening was agony. Gwen kept spotting her breasts everywhere; in the bric-a-brac on the walls, on people’s plates. She nearly had a heart attack when Buzz uncovered the rolls, and her quail and wild asparagus croquettes were a trial to her.

Finally they were down to coffee and Gwen thought she might get out of this with only minor humiliation. Buzz and Tammi were discussing their plans for Labor Day, and Tom was calculating the tip on his Palm.

“We’re either going to Four Bears Water Park or Six Flags,” said Tammi. “Six Flags has better roller coasters, but Four Bears has all the water slides and stuff — Oh!” Something over Gwen’s left shoulder caught Tammi’s eye. “Oh look! I hadn’t noticed that before. That’s really funny!”

“Geez,” said Buzz. “I’m surprised they can get away with that. This is supposed to be a family place.”

“Wow,” said Tom. “I guess it’s a girl bear.”

Before she even turned around, Gwen knew what they were looking at. George and Gracie had been found. She craned her neck around to look, and there they were, each nestled in a crook of the bear’s arms. By now other people were pointing and murmuring. Laughter ran through the restaurant as more and more people noticed that the bear was wearing Gwen’s breasts.

Gwen’s head felt light and the restaurant swayed around her. “Excuse me,” she said, fumbling money out of her wallet and standing up. “I have to go now. I forgot I — I have to do something. It was nice meeting you, Tom.”

Gwen fled the restaurant, glaring at George and Gracie as she passed them, but they didn’t seem to notice. Caught up, no doubt, in being the center of attention. She managed to make it all the way to her car before losing her croquettes on the blacktop.

Gwen lay on the couch eating peppermint stick ice cream and brooding over her fate. George and Gracie were back again, but she knew it didn’t mean anything. They could leave again at any moment and no bra could stop them. She wondered if she really needed them anyway. Maybe they were more trouble than they were worth.

She put down the ice cream and lifted up her shirt, looking down through the neck hole. They were pretty breasts, she had to admit. Gracie a little more so than George, who was larger and kind of droopy, but they both had a soft roundness to them which was very appealing. She snaked her arms beneath her shirt and ran her hands under them, hefting them in her palms, enjoying their watery weight and warmth. A thought occurred to her. If they could detach . . .

She cradled George in her hands, raised the jiggling lump of flesh to her mouth and rolled the nipple over her tongue. A jolt of pleasure shot down her body, making her toes tingle. Restless, Gracie rolled into her lap and burrowed at her crotch. Gwen relaxed her legs even as she continued sucking on George’s nipple. It felt good. It felt so good it was almost certainly wrong, but so what? Her life was already ruined, why not wallow in whatever debased pleasures the situation offered? Stuffing as much of George into her mouth as she could, she unfastened her jeans and reached for the ice cream.

Gwen lay in a sticky stupor on the couch, the ice cream carton tucked into the crook of her arm. Inside George and Gracie lolled indolently in the melted pink froth. They really loved that stuff. Gwen sighed and gazed at the ceiling with blissful satisfaction, not caring, at least for the moment, why and how she felt that way.

Someone knocked on the door. “Gwenny?” came her mother’s voice from the other side.

Gwen shot up off the couch, grabbing the lid to the ice cream and shoving it over George and Gracie. She refastened her jeans and wiped away the worst of the ice cream film with a paper napkin. “Just a second, Ma!” she yelled, racing into the bedroom to throw on a bulky sweater.

She answered the door and her mother swept in dressed in a powder blue micro-fiber jogging suit, her bleached curls sticking out from around a coordinating headband. “Sweetheart, I was just over at Kohl’s, and they have the cutest little sweater sets that’d be just perfect for you.” She leaned forward to give Gwen a kiss.

Gwen quickly pecked her mother’s cheek and backed away before she could get a hug in.

“They’re on sale,” her mother continued. “I thought maybe we could go back together — maybe have a little lunch while we’re out.”

Gwen took a deep breath to steady herself. “Oh, no thanks, Mom. I’m uh, kind of busy right now.”

“Hmm. I can see that.” Her mother glanced around the disordered apartment and then turned to eye Gwen closely. “Are you okay?”

“Oh yeah! Yeah, I’m fine.” Desperately Gwen searched for something to distract her mother. “H-hey, look what I found,” she said, pointing at the statue on the coffee table.

“Oh, isn’t that pretty!”

Gwen flushed. “Thanks, Mom.”

“Where did you buy it? Was it on sale?”

Gwen stared at her. “Mom, I made it. In high school, remember?”

Her mother shook her head. “I don’t remember you ever sculpting, Sweetie. You’ve always been such a good, practical girl.” She looked around the apartment again in disapproval. “I just wish you weren’t so messy. I mean look,” she picked the ice cream carton up from where Gwen had left it on the floor, “how can you just leave this sitting out like this?”

“Mom, please . . .”

But her mother ignored her. “I bet it’s all melted now,” she said, opening the lid.

Her eyes widened briefly and then she froze, staring into the carton. It wobbled slightly as her hand shook. She shot a glance at Gwen, taking in her bulky sweater, and then looked back into the carton. She replaced the lid carefully and set it down on the coffee table next to Gwen’s statue. She sat down on the couch. “They are yours?”

Open mouthed, Gwen nodded.

“Well, that’s something, at least.” Her mother sighed. “Dotty Greenfield’s boy wound up with somebody else’s testicles and he got his girlfriend pregnant with them. It was a mess.”

Gwen couldn’t contain the laughter that burst inappropriately from her lips.

Her mother scowled, frown lines standing out around her mouth. “Oh, you think that’s funny, do you?”

Helplessly, Gwen nodded her head and sank to the couch, weeping with laughter. She laid her head on her mother’s shoulder and suddenly her giggles became sobs.

“Oh, now. There, there, Honey,” said her mother, wrapping her arms around Gwen and rocking her, just like when she was a little girl. “Come on now, don’t cry. It’s not so bad.”

Gwen sat back up, rubbing her eyes. “Not so bad? How can you say that? You’re not the one whose breasts are gallivanting all over town!”

“No, but I was, once.”

“What?” Shock made Gwen’s hands and feet tingle.

Her mother sighed again. “Oh yes. I was a little older than you, but they say every generation matures earlier, so . . .”

Gwen shook her head. “So you’re saying this happens to everyone? How come I’ve never heard about it before?”

“Well, it doesn’t happen to everyone, dear. Just an unlucky few. And of course no one talks about it. I mean, it’s just too embarrassing, isn’t it?”

She nodded in agreement, and for a while they sat in silence, staring at the ice cream carton. At last Gwen said, “But it happened to you?”


“B-but it doesn’t anymore?”

“No. Thank God.”

Gwen turned and looked at her mother. “So what happened?”

She shrugged. “One day, they just didn’t come back.”

“Oh my God! How horrible!”

“No.” Her mother shook her head and took Gwen’s hands in hers, gripping them tightly. “No. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. And the best thing for you to do is tape that ice cream carton shut, pop it in the freezer and never take it out again. Take it from me Gwenny, you’ll be better off without them.”

Gwen stared at her mother in horror. “How can you say that?”

“Because they will publicly humiliate you over and over again if you let them, until you lose your friends, your job, everything. They will destroy your life unless you give them exactly what they want.” She released Gwen’s hands and folded her arms.

“What they want?”

“Mmm-hmm.” Gwen’s mother gave her a sinister look.

Running a hand over her sticky jeans, Gwen thought she had a pretty good idea what George and Gracie wanted.

Gwen’s mother patted her knee and stood up. “Now you need to get your mind off all of this, Gwenny. Focus on something else.” She smiled brightly and clasped her hands together. “I know, why don’t you put the ice cream away and come shopping with me? Mervyns has some lovely oversized knits you might like.”

Gwen shook her head. “No thanks, Mom. I think I’d like to be alone for a little while.”

Her mother sighed and pursed her lips. “Suit yourself,” she said as she headed for the door, “but believe me, you’ll feel a lot better once you take matters into your own hands.”

“I’m sure you’re right, Mom,” said Gwen, following her. “And thanks.” She gave her a big hug. “Thanks for stopping by.”

Armed with a cost-estimate form and the bulging Pottery Barn file, Gwen approached Charlie Axel. Charlie was on the phone, so Gwen stood in front of his desk waiting. Her arms ached from holding the huge file, but with the enormous graphics monitor, the scanner, and countless printouts and CDs, there wasn’t a square inch of space open on his desk.

“Okay, I’ll email you a thumbnail this afternoon, and as soon as you approve it, I’ll go ahead with the final layout… Great. Bye.” Charlie hung up and immediately dialed another number. “Hey, Baby, how you doing? . . . Ha! . . . Me? Not much . . . Hey, you want to go to the Icebox tonight? DJ Jah Love is spinning.”

“Um. Excuse me,” said Gwen.

Charlie glanced at her and put his hand over the receiver. “Just a sec,” he said.

Gwen stood there for fifteen minutes while Charlie and his girlfriend made plans for the evening, discussed the local music scene and critiqued their friends’ fashion sense.

“Dean should have stuck with black work. His new Elvis tattoo clashes with his hair . . . Oh, you gotta go? . . . Catch you later then baby, bye.”

“Excuse me Charlie,” said Gwen, edging closer to the desk as he hung up and returned his gaze to the monitor. “I need to talk to you about the Pottery Barn account.”

“Sure, what do you need to know?” he asked, fingers briskly tapping at the keyboard. He never took his eyes off the monitor.

“Well —” Gwen shifted her weight and adjusted her grip on the file as a blush crept over her face. Suddenly she was furious with this smart, smarmy, hotshot young “artist,” sitting there, not even looking at her, barely acknowledging her as a human being.

What gave him the right? What made him better than her? That he had talent? Well everybody has talent, just not everybody gets to use theirs. He was lucky. He was lucky and that meant he could treat her like a moderately bright stapler? “There’s a few things,” she said sweetly as she very gently shoved half the crap on his desk onto the floor and made room for the Pottery Barn file.

“What the hell are you doing?” She had Charlie’s undivided attention at last. He gaped at her as she walked around his desk toward him.

“I have to file an invoice for this job tomorrow,” she said, brandishing the cost-estimate form. “And I don’t have one useful piece of information in this whole stack!” She smacked the Pottery Barn file with her other hand.

The noise made Charlie jump. “Geez, chill out! It’s just an invoice. That’s valuable work you just threw on the floor, dude!”

“Not if we can’t bill for it,” she said, resting one hand on his desk and leaning in toward him. “It may be ‘just an invoice’ to you, but it’s my freaking job, dude. For weeks now, you haven’t been letting me do my job.”

Charlie blinked. “Okay, okay. Relax. Just leave the form with me and I’ll fill it out and get it back to you tomorrow.”

“Oh no,” she said as she hauled a chair over beside his. “We’re going to fill in the information on the form right now. And then I’ll have what I need, and I can leave you alone, which is what we both want. And next time, you can avoid all this by filling out the form yourself.” She looked Charlie in his bratty, talented, dumbstruck face, and she smiled.

When Gwen got to the elevator the new guy in accounting was just stepping inside. He held the door for her. He had sandy brown hair and an earnest, slightly perplexed expression. “Thanks,” she said, and then wondered if he’d witnessed her little freak out with Charlie. She blushed and stood very still, staring at the brushed stainless steel of the elevator doors.

“I hate that guy,” he said conversationally. “My first day here he kept me waiting at his desk for half an hour while he negotiated a new deal with his cellular provider. All I needed was his signoff on a Fed-Ex receipt. What a jerk.”

Gwen smiled and glanced at him, and found him smiling back.

“That needed to be done,” he said, and his smile became a grin. He swept one arm out in front of him, “Swoosh!”


Though her social life was in ruins and her job hung by a thread, Gwen’s relationship with her breasts had improved considerably. They seemed to appreciate the attention she gave them. They didn’t go out quite as much, and when they did they always came back in the manner of excited children eager to share their adventures. Gwen would wake up around four or five in the morning, her breasts bouncing on top of her chest. She’d fondle them for a little while, until they got sleepy and nudged away the covers so they could reattach themselves.

One night she awoke to find three blobs of flesh wiggling on her. She fumbled for the bedside lamp and beheld in the amber glow George and Gracie perching proudly on either side of a semi-flaccid penis. It was a testament to her reconciliation with her situation that she didn’t scream and fling the thing across the room. Clearly, her breasts had meant well, but there was no telling where this little cock had been, and no way she was going to let it join their nocturnal games.

Groaning, Gwen sat up and stared at the penis, which regarded her with cycloptic innocence. She took a slip from the floor by the bed, draped it over the wayward penis and scooped it up, padding across the room to her dresser. She placed the penis gently in her underwear drawer, shut it, and went back to sleep.

The following afternoon was J. Thomas Design’s annual office party. They’d taken over the lobby of the Hilton for the event. Towering posters of award-winning advertising images stood about, guests mingling among them. Gwen almost didn’t mind being there. Since she’d been pleasuring her breasts there’d been no more public incidents and she felt more in control of her life than she had in weeks.

“. . . so I figured, at least with accounting I could always find a job,” said the new guy in accounting. “All in all, I think I did the right thing, switching majors.”

Gwen, who’d been taking full advantage of the open bar, smiled pleasantly and allowed herself to focus on his nicely formed shoulders.

He smiled back at her, but at the same time his eyes darted nervously over her shoulder, like he was looking for someone. He seemed to catch himself and refocus on her. “So what about you, how do you like working here?” he asked her.

“Oh, it’s great,” she said, feeling her smile calcify into a rigid grin. “J. Thomas is a great company to be with and I love working around creative people.” As she paused to drain her third whisky sour, she distinctly felt something warm and soft roll free from under her bra and drop down the front of her dress. She looked down in time to see George scampering beneath the hors d’oeuvres table.

No. Oh God no, not now. Swearing under her breath, Gwen ran after her left breast. She pulled up the tablecloth and stuck her head under the hors d’oeuvres table. George was nowhere in sight.

A pair of men’s brown oxfords appeared beside the table. “Did you lose something?” asked the new guy in accounting.

She straightened, slamming the back of her head against the underside of the table, creating a minor shower of pigs in blankets. The new guy in accounting helped extricate her from the tablecloth. “Careful now. Are you okay?”

“Oh! Oh yeah.” She folded her arms across her chest, as much to imprison Gracie as to hide George’s absence. “I — I, um, lost my earring.”

He wrinkled his brow. “But you have two now.”

“Oh, oh yeah.”

At the far end of the room stood an enormous poster of a model in a dress comprised entirely of pink balloons. The crowd before it parted momentarily, and she thought she saw George rolling behind it. “Excuse me,” she said, and dashed off to investigate.

The poster stood in an alcove, one side pushed up against the wall, forming a little cul-de-sac behind it. And there in the shadows was her breast. Gwen got to her hands and knees and squeezed behind the poster. George rolled to the far corner, but could not escape. With a cry of exultation, Gwen grabbed her.

Awkwardly she managed to unbutton the top of her dress and push her bra down, but as she tried to put George back in her rightful place, the breast bucked, causing her to bump the poster with her elbow. The foam-board wobbled, and then, with a whooshing sound, toppled over. Gasps erupted and everyone turned to stare, and then silence fell as they saw Gwen, on her knees, naked from the waist up, clutching her left breast in her hands.

Still shaking with humiliation, Gwen rummaged in her bedroom closet until she found the box she’d kept her statue in. She got a roll of duct tape out of the junk drawer and put them both on the coffee table next to her high school masterpiece. Now maybe she’d be able to keep her job, she thought, steeling herself. Now maybe she’d meet someone and settle down to a nice, ordinary life. She stripped to the waist, and took George and Gracie lovingly in her hands. “I don’t want to do this, but you’ve left me no other option,” she told them.

As she grasped them more firmly, George and Gracie wiggled free from her hands. They rolled under the couch and she shoved it over onto its back. They fled to the bedroom and tried to hide in the bed covers. Gwen fished the butterfly net out of the closet and pulled the covers back in a whoosh. She swiped at them with the net, missed and dashed across the bed after them as they rolled into the bathroom.

Twenty minutes later she had them trapped behind the refrigerator. She rousted them out with the handle of the net and almost got them as they slipped out between the refrigerator and the stove. As they raced back into the living room, Gwen was right behind them. They sprinted across the carpet, heading for the television, but the overturned couch was in their way.

They thought they were being clever; George went one way around, Gracie the other, but Gwen leapt onto the couch and caught them on the other side. Unable to stop themselves, they rolled into her waiting net and she swung it up with a shout of triumph.

Her breasts hung heavy and limp in the swaying net, and Gwen reached forward to grab it and trap them inside. She overbalanced and the next thing she knew she was flying forward off the couch, right into her sculpture sitting on the coffee table. As she slid across the table, clutching the net in one hand, she reached for the sculpture, but it sailed free of her grasp and crashed to the floor, smashing into hundreds of pieces.

Gwen lay across the coffee table on her stomach, panting, her breasts struggling feebly in the net. She stared at her sculpture, her beautiful sculpture, destroyed, and then glanced at the box lying on its side nearby and suddenly great wracking sobs welled up inside her and shook her body. Hot tears streamed down her face and she couldn’t stop crying.

The net slipped from her hand as she crawled off the coffee table and knelt beside the shattered remains of her sculpture. She sifted through the fragments, but much of the clay had turned to powder when it hit the floor. There was no repairing it. The one thing she’d ever done that she was really proud of was gone. It wasn’t worth it, she thought. It just wasn’t worth it. George and Gracie rolled into her lap and nuzzled against her as if to comfort her. She held them to her and cried until she was empty, and then she got the broom.

She struggled through the doorway with the block of clay and took it into the living room. With one foot she cleared the coffee table of dirty dishes and magazines and dropped the clay on top of it with a slam. She got a bowl of water from the kitchen, sat down on the couch and sank her fingers into the soft moist clay. It was smooth and cool, receptive to her every thought, every twitch of her fingers.

She didn’t think about what she was doing, what form she wanted to wrest from the blank block, she just did it, molding and smoothing, feeling all her sadness, fear and self-doubt ebb away as she gave herself up to the task at hand. With wonder she watched the forms take shape as if of their own volition, emerging whole and perfect from between her fingers.

When she was finished, her arms, face, pants and blouse were streaked with red-brown clay. She sat back with satisfaction and looked at what she had created. An assemblage of fruit — apples, pears, bananas and peaches, and among them two round, disembodied breasts, almost indistinguishable from the fruit until you looked at it a while. And then you began to wonder about that banana. She decided instantly on a name, “Still Life with Boobs.”

Gwen smiled, more pleased with herself than she’d been in years. She didn’t care if the piece was good or not, she didn’t care if anyone laughed at it, or her. She was through living for appearances. It wasn’t worth it. It made you miss out on the really good stuff. It made you forget why you were alive in the first place.

Someone knocked on her door. Startled, Gwen wiped her hands on her jeans and opened it.

The new guy from accounting stood there, shifting restlessly from foot to foot. “Um. Hi. I — uh, I’m sorry to bother you but . . . Geez, this is embarrassing. I — uh, I lost my — I lost something and I was wondering if . . .” His blue eyes wandered past her to peer into the apartment, desperation and dread warring on his face.

Gwen suddenly remembered the penis in her dresser drawer. Good Lord. “Why don’t you come in?” she said.

He looked relieved.

“Sit down,” she said, gesturing to the couch. “I’ll be right back.”

She went to the bedroom and rummaged through her underwear drawer until she found the penis. But she couldn’t just go out there with it in her hand. It seemed too . . . personal. She emptied the basket where she kept her scrunchies and placed the penis inside, then took a scarf and arranged it on top, as if it were a loaf of bread she wanted to keep warm.

She went back out. He was still sitting on the couch, hands clenched on his knees, his head tilted down, peering at his crotch. Bingo.

“Is this yours?” she asked.

He took the basket, tentatively lifting up one corner of the scarf. He heaved a sigh of relief. “Oh my God. Thank you . . . I — Could you excuse me a moment?”

She smiled. “Sure, bathroom’s down that way, second door on the left.”

When he came back he looked a lot more relaxed. She offered him a beer and they sat on the couch, drinking together in companionable silence for a few minutes. At last she said, “It was my breasts. They brought . . . him here. It wasn’t me.”

He laughed. “Oh, I know. Anyway, knowing him, he probably talked them into it.”

She smiled. “How did you know he came here?”

“It’s Frank, by the way.” He stuck out a hand.

“How did you know Frank came here?”

“No, I’m Frank, he’s Clyde. As in Bonnie and Clyde? It was a thing my old girlfriend would always say, back before we broke up.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

“Not your fault.” He looked away. “Anyway, to answer your question, I followed him. I saw them all come in here, only at the time, I didn’t have the guts to knock on the door. I was hoping he’d just come back, he usually does, but he’s never been gone this long before and I was pretty desperate.”

“I can imagine.”

“So, has this been happening to you for long?” he asked.

She shrugged, caught up in the square line of his jaw, the compact sturdiness of his shoulders. She’d like to sculpt him. “About six weeks.”

“Heh, me too. It’s insane isn’t it? I mean, I thought I was, until . . . until now.” He leaned closer to her, his face intent, as if he were discovering something.

“Yes,” she said, her voice a husky whisper. “Maybe we are crazy, but I don’t care anymore, do you?”

He shook his head ever so slightly. “No.”

“Me neither,” she said, and she kissed him.

Their lips, soft and crushable, locked onto one another with sudden urgency. He ran his hands down her arms, across her back, holding her tight, and she brought her own arms around and up, to play with the hair at the back of his neck, to clutch his shoulders and crumple the starchy whiteness of his shirt between her fingers.

They parted, and his gaze focused on the sculpture. “Hey, that’s beautiful. Did you do that?”

In her blouse George and Gracie tingled, and Gwen smiled broadly. “Yeah.”

“Wow. That’s great that you do something creative like that. I wish I could be creative. I used to love to draw, but I haven’t done it for years.”

“You should pick it back up again.”

He looked pleased. “Really, you think?”

“Oh, definitely.”

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