Arts & Culture

Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You, Baby.

By Sierra Firley
I wake up, roll over to my nightstand, pick up my mason jar and chug. After a few moments, my body manages to drag my body to the kitchen and peel one slice of orange off the one I’ve been working on this week. I followed the slice with another glass of water. Usually I would end my breakfast there, but for the past ten weeks I’ve been eating for two. So, I peel off another slice and eat half of it. I set the rest down on the table for tomorrow and make my way to the bathroom. While my shower gets hot, I peel off my socks, bottoms, and t-shirt, and bundle them into a ball on the floor. The next part of my morning routine has become dreadful; it’s weigh-in time. I close my eyes and step onto the scale. When the number reads 104 lb, I taste my shame. As quickly as I can, turning to the toilet, I shove my fingers down my throat. The orange and water do not fight to stay with me.
When I step into the shower, I examine my body. I am constantly aware of the amount of space I take up, and it always feels like too much. With seven billion people in the world, it seems greedy to take up any more than absolutely necessary. It’s not about looking skinny, it’s about feeling light. If only the world could carry me effortlessly through the breeze. I adore the effortlessness of thin air. Pre-pregnancy, at eighty nine pounds, I still feared my tomb would be too heavy for the Earth to bear. I would never want to inconvenience anything as sacred as the ground I have walked on with the duty of bearing me. Instead, I hope my bones whistle like the sound of leaves in the wind.
In between shampoo and conditioner I study my stomach and the little bump that has formed over where my ribs used to protrude loudly. I feel disgusted by the skin muting them now. In truth, I resent this child for taking up space in my body. I resent this child for insisting that I grow too. I ate an extra piece of orange for this unborn mass of weighted cells, and while the water is running down my body, I imagine what it must look like to watch from the bottom of my stomach as I slide my fingers down my throat. I bet it’s desirable, to see first hand how a famished body is an act of rebellion. You don’t need anything, baby, I whisper.
I turn off the shower and grab the towel from its hook on the wall. Again, I am reminded of my changing body when the towel only wraps around my now fuller body once. I sit on the toilet in hopes of a bowel movement, but instead my stomach clenches and halts. My vagina is warm, and I reach in between my legs only to feel something wet and slimy. Within a few moments, my very own child slides into my hand. I feel a sadness brew in my stomach where I have spent the last ten weeks sustaining another being. I lift my hand and the fetus out of the toilet and slide onto the floor.
For a few moments, I study the bloody creature. I cannot help but feel envious of the fact that this human fits in the palm of my hand. How beautiful to stare at something I created that mirrors my desire to be frail. The resentment that felt as if it got heavier inside of me with every ounce I have gained slides off my shoulders and brings me to an epiphany. You are brave, baby. I suddenly feel proud. I thought this little being was intrusive and heavy, only here to weigh me down. Yet it gave its life so that I would not have the burden of carrying it. You understand, baby. You gave up your space so that I could float. I’m locked in an one sided conversation with my dead fetus, whom I owe so much gratitude.
Fuck those suicide bombers who strap explosions to themselves in crowded areas for a God who never carries them up the stairs to heaven. Fuck the cowards who jump off bridges and make the ocean drag them to the banks. Bravery is not and never will be anchoring yourself blindly to an already sinking ship. I will do my best baby, not to wish away the risen light purple streaks you began to embed onto my stomach, consider it a nobel prize, baby. Nothing is ever going to hurt you now, baby. I am sorry, baby, that there just wasn’t enough space for the both of us.

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