Polyester. The feel of polyester on skin: sticky, sticking, scratchy. Please stop scratching me. The couch in the surgeon’s office. It is scratching me. It won’t stop scratching me. The skin on the back of my thigh is raw. Like meat. Reddened. Dirty. Maybe soon it will be bloody too. The women across the room. They moan. Wailing, like children, like whales. Like the wind. Only angrier. Only sadder. Only why are their hands touching? Only why am I over here? On the couch. Alone. Not in their circle. Why am I not with the women wailing? With the whales wailing. With the Woosh. With the Wooh. I am dying too. Will you wail for me? I will wail for you. The women’s hands, they’re overlapping. Their fingers are suffocating. They look like they’re praying, but they aren’t praying; they’re just waiting. Waiting like I’m waiting. Waiting for the woman in the white coat. Waiting for answers. Waiting for questions. Questions they don’t want the answers to. I’m waiting to be cut open. When something is open is it no longer whole? I don’t know what it means to be whole. I am looking for the hole. On my breast there is a hole. Am I going to the hole? Where are you going? Asked my father. Do you care? I asked no one. I asked everyone all at once. Once I was a girl. Once I was sixteen. Once I was untouched. Once a boy asked to touch me. Once a boy didn’t ask. Once the doctor never asked. Once I thought I couldn’t be touched any longer. Longer is what it feels like when the doctor is using a knife to cut open your skin. Your skin is like chicken, the scraps you pull off the meat. The scraps you leave on the paper plate. Everyone is leaving me on the paper plate. Everyone is licking their fingers. The boy licked his fingers. The doctor licked her fingers. The plastic. The gauze. The wound. The wound is wailing. Please stop wailing. I will wail for you. Please don’t wail for me.
51 – November 2016
By Jenessa Abrams
Jenessa Abrams is a Norman Mailer Fiction Fellow and has been awarded residencies at the Ucross Foundation and the Vermont Studio Center. Her writing has been published or is forthcoming in The New York Times, Washington Square Review, The Grief Diaries and KGB Lit Magazine. She is currently a Master of Fine Arts candidate in fiction and literary translation at Columbia University.