Friday
Dec062013

Things that come from inside of us

Tasha Coryell


 

Her french fries were waiting for her at the fast food counter. A double cheeseburger. A cup still empty, waiting to be filled with her drink of choice. She was going to choose diet coke. She always drank diet coke, it was healthier that way. But she had to do something about the baby in the toilet. She couldn't just leave it there, though it occurred to her. Washing her hands, wiping between her legs, all that blood. It had felt like a ripping, the sound the same even, as when fabric rips. Her stomach had been hurting for weeks and she didn't know why. She had thought it was gas. She could feel it moving around in there, the way that gas does with its little hands and feet, pressing the sides of her organs, begging for her to allow its release.

The baby was wailing. She took it over to the changing table, which was already unhooked from the wall. The table smelled like baby wipes. Her baby smelled like shit. There might've been some of that in there too. She flushed the toilet. It clogged, but she didn't work there, so it wasn't her responsibility to fix it.

It was purple and dirty. She took off her sweatshirt and wrapped it inside. Her t-shirt was stained underneath. She walked out of the restroom and got her food from the counter.

"Can I get this to go, please?" she asked.

She left her drink cup. She didn't have enough hands to carry everything. She ate in the parking lot, her mouth dry. She carried it home in the sweatshirt, using the sleeves like handles on a bag.

"That sweatshirt's ruined now," she said. "Cost me forty dollars."

Some men catcalled her as she walked inside. She had to balance the baby on one arm in order to unlock the door. There was nowhere to put it really, amongst the piles. She was what you could call a piler, not messy exactly, but it would be messy if all those towers were to get knocked down. She put it on a stack of mail. It made some noises. She was hungry again and opened the refrigerator and ate a pickle. The pickle juice dripped down her chin, across her hands.

She changed her shirt; the last one was soiled. Put on her work pants; they were just sweatpants really.

She carried it on the bus, swiped her card but only once. Sat in one of the seats meant for the handicapped. A kid next to her blasted music out of his headphones. He had a hood over his head. Hood-lum. There was something about bus windows that made the world look grey. She pulled the cord. The "Stop Requested" sign lit up. She grabbed the ball wrapped up in her sweatshirt, stepped off the bus and onto the curb. There was something about bus stops that collected litter. She entered the windowless building. It could be a box just as easily as a building. She punched her punch card. She sat at her desk. Put the sweatshirt on the floor, its contents leaking. She put on her headset. There was some wax on it. The script was in front of her. Sometimes they sold one thing and at other times something else. The folds of her sweatshirt kicked, gurgled. She dialed a number. They didn't pick up. She dialed another number. Every few weeks, they would get a new list. Until they got a new list, they dialed the same numbers repeatedly.

"Hello?"

"Good morning, ma'am. I'd like to talk to you about—"

There was a click, constant clicking.

A man answered the phone. He was watching a western. She could hear him chewing. He was very interested in the product that would both help him lose weight and regulate bowel movements. People made their way onto the list for all sorts of reasons, but primarily for past vulnerability.

It started to shriek. She didn't realize that it was shrieking until she removed the sweatshirt.

The man on the phone was threatening to hang up.

"I want you to listen to me," he said. "I need to be convinced of something."

She hung up the phone. This was against company policy. They were only permitted to hang up on phone calls when there was some sort of verbal abuse involved. Swear words of some kind.

It had become crusty. Flakes coming off every inch of skin. She took it in the bathroom and stuck it under the sink, dumping the sweatshirt in the trashcan. She scrubbed it off until it was mostly clean, some pieces of grime stuck on there so hard they could no longer be removed and had become part of its body.

"Baby." Language degenerates to a single word when faced with something small.

Her coworker peered over her shoulder. She was eighteen. She had large hoop earrings that she admitted she had purchased from the chain store in the mall that primarily catered to children.

"Is your baby all right?" she asked.

"Yeah, it just hasn't taken a bath yet. I'm giving it a bath right now."

"Oh."

She took it out from under the faucet, stuck it under the blow dryer for a few seconds and wrapped it in paper towels. She took it back to her desk, sticking the package down by her feet. She called the man back. He didn't seem to remember her calling previously and bought an entire case of pills. Her boss stopped by and told her to clean up that mess under her desk."Sometimes when things get too messy, new life starts to form," he said.

After work, she got back on the bus and the driver made her swipe her card twice, which was expensive. At home, she put on a sparkly dress and wrapped it in a matching scarf. She put on red lipstick. Sprayed some body-spray that was supposed to smell like cucumber melon, but she had never smelled a cucumber like that before. She spritzed a little on the scarf too: it still smelled a funny, not like a normal person at all.

She took the bus to her favorite club downtown, showed her ID at the door and they checked her scarf to make sure it wasn't a package full of drugs. She ordered some jag bombs at the bar. Went out onto the dance floor, tripping over her heels, but not so much that she fell down. A man came up behind her, rubbed his front into her back, handed her a shot. The scarf was wriggling; it was a dancer already.

She went outside for a smoke break. It started wailing through the fumes. She passed her cigarette off.

"I can't smoke this no more," she said. "My scarf is already starting to reek."

She went back in the club and placed it on a barstool, stomach down. The same man or maybe a different man started to dance with her.

"Let's go back to my place," he murmured into her ear.

"Only if my baby can come too."

"Baby, you can bring your baby anytime."

She went and got it from the barstool.

"You got your purse?" he asked. "Let me close out your tab."

They got on the bus. He swiped his card twice. They sat in the back of the bus. He slipped his fingers up her sparkly dress and inside of her. They made out, sticking their tongues down each other's throats. She pulled the cord. "Stop Requested" lit up. They got off the bus and walked into his building. He held the door for her, which was good because her hands were full. His apartment was the kind of apartment that men live in: nothing on the walls, a plain white comforter. She set it on the table. He pushed her back onto the bed, everything white.

"You feel real loose, what've you had up here lately?"

She could feel the wet on her legs. She thought for a second that it was his cum; that it was trailing out of the inside of her.

"Are you on your period?" he asked.

"No," she said.

He was still inside of her or it felt like he was, which were essentially the same thing. It started to cry on the table. There were tears on her face as well. The man's body was sweaty, a substance sticky like glue.

"When you said baby, I thought you meant something else," he said.

The mixture of cum and blood together had turned his sheets pink. It looked like tie-dye. She stuck her fingers in it, put them in her mouth.

There was a thump. She looked over; it had rolled off the table. The scarf sparkled on the floor.

"Too bad," he said. "Babies aren't supposed to be able to roll over this early. It would've been real smart."