Prismatic – Kayla Eason

Though they were not from her body, they lived inside her body at one time, so her blood must have mixed with theirs. Blood carrying the memories of Jenny’s childhood, or her insomnia. Maybe the desire to be someone else, too.

..

Longing to be a mother means desiring traits of genuine nurture. Jenny’s husband had told her that they could incubate pregnancy. In fact, they could obtain fraternal twin embryos. She could give birth to one, and freeze the second for later. Parenting responsibilities staggered accordingly: one child entering first grade as the other child was being born. Perfect organization of time, attention, love. When Jenny’s husband had slid the brochures toward her, she swallowed the urge to throw her dinner plate at his throat because her husband is inside her. The bed squeaks. Sometimes the sound is distracting to her; sometimes he has spent enough time touching her breasts for her to be distracted by nothing. Her body like a sinkhole. Her skin breaking its jaw breathing in the dark. Her voice belonging to someone else.

..

Jenny rolls into the morning. Sundown, dawn, fog.

Her limbs will need to lift her body from the bed. The feeling is like paralysis. Like she’s gone into the heart of a lost wilderness. Like she was bitten by a large insect. The bite swelled to the size of a walnut. Fever, embossed in thoughts, night-sweat blooming fog: the perfume of her own body disinterested in being a body.

..

The first baby, Grace, was a happy child. Grace bubbled with joy, staring at her starry mobile. She learned to read quickly, and played the piano naturally. Grace made friends, was invited to many birthday parties. She will grow up to be a mother who takes her own children to pottery classes and gymnastics and teaches them how to ride a bike, how to braid hair, how to pour milk from a full carton. Grace will keep every baby tooth in a tiny porcelain treasure chest. She will keep an inch of umbilical cord, dehydrated as a pressed rose.

..

When Jenny was a young girl, her mother kept bees. Jenny was afraid of the bees, but was captivated by the comb: capsules sequenced and shaped in perfect tessellation. Honey bees twitching in geometric cavities, pollen marbling wings. Late spring humming like crystal. Her hem dipped in mud. She had often napped in the shade of giant artichoke flowers, bees zipping her temples, forehead caressed by the movement of drooping grass. She’d wake disoriented, unsure of where she was and who she was.

..

The second baby, Emily, was born quietly, as if asleep while she slipped from the womb. But then she slept too little for a newborn, though never fussed, moving barely a muscle in the silver baby monitor screen. When she’s older, Emily’s eyes, face, will hold the same stillness. She’ll move far away. Jenny will always wonder what’s inside of her daughters, if in their own ways, they’re still waiting to begin their lives the same way Jenny is. The same way she waits for her body to want to wake up. She’s still waiting to feel like a person. Jenny pinches the soft skin of her stomach because it should feel different now. Other people have lived there, inside.

..

Her eyes close to the sounds of bees. She hears the bed squeaking. She dreams of a child’s fist curling and uncurling. She wakes up in the middle of the night. She asks herself—what kind of capsule are you? What do you put into other lives for the future? The late spring. Routine. Effort. Disbelief. The people you imagine you are not.

Kayla Eason

Kayla Eason is the author of Mia (Orson’s Publishing, 2020). Her work is forthcoming or has appeared most recently in The Rumpus, The Bosphorus Review of Books, Orson’s Review, among others. Find her other writing and visual work at kaylaeason.com

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