Girls in the Womb
after Emma Stough
My girls in the movie sit me down. We're in a room of glass. It is filled halfway with water and has markings stretching up the walls. Nobody really knows what will happen except that eventually we are supposed to drown. The director, a man with a beard, waves his hands and we all start. Our bodies bent into odd shapes, we curve around each other and make loud, inhuman noises. There are pretzels, shiny with salt, in a pile on the floor. There is no script. There's this girl, this one girl, she has lines on her face like an animal. Inside my stomach is an appleseed, she says, like that, Appleseed, one word. It's growing every day. We begin to compete. Another girl has a peach pit inside her, another a volleyball, another a yo-yo. Who cares about a yo-yo, we scoff, it's tiny and besides the string will get tangled up inside you until it pulls all your organs into these messy shapes. We know about mess. We know too well. Bang, bang and suddenly it's a competition. We wave our arms and I try to make myself big. I have never felt so bad about being small until now, when there are horns blasting in the distance. It's a cracking, dissonant sound. The director sits behind a glass wall and this is when he finally gives the nod. He makes a partial fist with his hand, twisting his index finger so it sits behind his pinky and then the water gushes in. It's flat, like a plain. And blue. I've never seen anything this blue before. My girls screw their eyes closed and bring their fists to their lips. We swallow ourselves whole and it is great improvisation. Bang, bang and my girls cluster together in my stomach. Sitting on glass chairs on pulsing, red membrane. We jerk around in my stomach with the peach pit, the volleyball, the yo-yo. There's space behind the hips to hide. I'm cold but we still go in. There's no water, no sound. My favorite girl presses her lips to mine and asks, What's that darkness in the distance? She's pointing straight down into my stomach. We take a step towards it. What could I say to her? What could I say. I want to tell her that it's just water but I don't. I can't bring myself to lie so instead I touch my fingers to her lips and say, Yeah, girl, that's all me. That's all me.
is a writer based in Taipei, Taiwan. She edits for Polyphony Lit, reads for the Puritan and harbors a severe artificial tea addiction. Her work is forthcoming at Parentheses Journal
and she can be found at twitter