Give it three days and it falls out of you like the baby it was meant to prevent you from. Its movement, its exit, is cool and slimy; the thought of an eel ribboning intrudes for some reason. You straddle the toilet, and you look down, and there it is floating like a lost balloon. The long and skinny kind, what clowns twist into poodles, bloated with the water you just peed in. You are hot with relief and horror in equal measure; you imagine this reaction is exactly the same. As if what was born instead was its warm opposite; had a scream and a beat; a spoon like an airplane.
You wonder if there is still him in it. If it is you and him now, two liquids in a bowl. Stirred together in a chemical soup, some amalgamation. A start. Or is it oil and water, what you two are more, seams congealing at the periphery of unmet blobs?
It suspends there, white translucent latex, a dirigible gliding across a yellow sky.
You want to call him but you don’t. You are alone and he has no car. You want to tell him that he was wrong—that it was inside you this whole time. That what he yelled he uncovered was a false positive. It was not the one.
It got technical.
It got him with two fingers inside you, digging around for it like change in a pocket. It got his tongue depending, stuck out in concentration, like a basketball player’s at the free-throw line. Him focused on feeling for the feel of the thing, that somehow, mid-fuck, had gone missing.
Wait, he had said, and pulled out his dick. It was pink and raw and shocked to attention. It didn’t know what to do with itself. A fear boner, check it, there was such a thing.
He scrambled in the sheets and forgot your state: the cowboy’s bandana cottoning your eyes; the hemp cords crossing your breasts in shibari; you face down and ass up, you David Bowie’s Slave.
You mumbled something through the perforations, the ones let air in and let spit out. A black wiffle ball, what you first thought of it, silicone and round and strapped to your face. At the shop under the bridge, he paid fifty bucks cash; she asked anything in particular and he said yes. You were on food stamps—where did he get the money? Hocked doubles of Captain Beefheart, is what he said.
Shit shit shit.
He undid it, undid you, informed you of the loss. Inserted fingers, extracted nothing, it felt clinical. Very Planned Parenthood except without the stirrups, no posters of young mothers, no llamada en español. It was you on a dirty mattress on the floor of a squat. It was you shrouded in a coil of your combined sweat. Trailing behind your walking-out legs, the bruise that was you, saying you’d go try.
You prayed no one was in there, please not that guy. That guy down the hall who wanted to watch. Whose offer of money, predictably, made it worse—a ham-fisted reminder of the transaction sex was.
Naked you squatted in the bathtub, powder blue and calcified, pubes stuck to bottles of cheap VO5. Cracked bars of soap and striations of grime, fungus mushrooming in real time. Up on the sink, a blackened toothbrush, its head smashed with abuse; splayed. Above the toilet, a peeled vintage poster: Iggy Pop with a baby plopped on his knee. It was black and white and they were both naked. Flesh upon flesh. Andy Warhol took it.
Every time you thought the same: Whose baby was it, where’d it come from?
You were an instructional pamphlet, your position in the tub, a folded illustration in a tampon box. You could feel it in there, wadded up and high, like a tiny balled fist, a lump of chewed gum. You tugged at it, snapped it, pinched until blood. Dizziness flooded. You could not get it out. Maybe what you were feeling was not what you were feeling. How often, think about it, were you up in these parts; how well did you know it, its strange topography?
You never felt so foreign in a place that was you, so much an intruder in your own body.
Only recently to your cervix were you introduced. A nurse practitioner produced a caliper, pointed to a number, said you’re too small. You never had kids, was the reason given; you took the alternative from a basket marked FREE. No oral contraceptives because he called them evil; you were not big pharma’s test pig.
He pounded on the door and yelled good news: he found it (holy shit) between the mattress and the wall.
You don’t answer to baby, you didn’t and you won’t.
You’ve reasoned this is fine, you can die right here.
Jessica Bonder is an American fiction writer. She has published short stories in The Stockholm Review, The Lonely Crowd, STORGY Magazine, Split Lip Magazine, Black Heart Magazine, and The Writing Disorder, among many others.
Website: jessicabonder.com / Tweet her @jessbonder