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The International Writers Magazine: The Unborn

Golf Ball Head
Tessa Foley
I'm only my mother's girl right now. I stretch and yawn and I'm patted every morning and I grow a little more eyelid every day. It took more than my mother to make me. It took more than her hostessing skills and my father's casual donations to make me and I know this because I can hear her talking.


All of the voices on the outside. She thinks I can't tell. She thinks I'm a fish, a limpid splat with big, black alien snooker balls planted on the sides of my veiny cantaloupe head and she rubs me through tissue and skin when she shouts at him and she braces me from pushing crowds, but nothing can touch me now. I exist. I am fish-alien. I am me and she thinks I am her. In my humble opinion, I am only catching a cluttering bus to my debut.

 So today I grow a bit more, roll over and burp. I feel flutters of conversation and giggling disturbing my posture and I can only punch a fingerless stump at the roof of my room. Some people are trying to relax. Oh no, not today, Mother is catching up with her so-called friends. She has been stretching shiny fabric across my outside wall and I can see a turquoise type sheen in the darkness. Lovely colour, Mother. It doesn't suit you one bit, I am sure. She is on high heels. I can feel myself hanging precariously over a shocking two and half foot abyss and she totters under the weight of a glass. I know I will be able to feel the contents of the glass in half an hour or so. Bubbly champagne-flavoured amniotic fluid. It must be a special occasion. Though not that special. Champagne is cheap and even a foetus is able to detect that. Maybe I am too judgemental and feisty when my mother drinks. There may even be a period later where I get all soppy about her and tell her she's my best mate. Thankfully she won't be listening. Good thing too. I'd regret it in the morning.

 There's a big, belly laugh and for me that means a spin-cycle. Thanks, Mummy. Glad you are enjoying yourself. I can hear you speak to another woman and she apparently looks beautiful. Insincere womanhood is something in which I will never take part. I'm beautiful, you are not; deal with it. I will be beautiful. I won't be dipping in to too much of my mother's DNA or my father's for that matter. I'll be stealing from the ether and arranging my face and my personality myself. I will not tell other people how great they are when I don't mean it. I can feel my mother's bile building and backing up. Just because she doesn't want to lose face, I have to take an acid bath. The talking woman doesn't seem too beautiful from here. She looks like a mountain from where I'm listing. They do have their set pieces to recite, though, don't they?

 There's the voice of the woman. The "beautiful" woman and she is giving my mother a host of congratulating pats, pokes and dripping-fat words. Rising tents all around me and I lash back with all my might. I did not give my permission to be mauled by strangers. And the stranger is seems, takes it personally, in altogether the wrong way. Thinks I am excited to be touched and bombarded with her meaningless words. I even hear her say that "he will be a bruiser". They didn't want to know I was a girl. They thought of themselves and their own surprise when I face them with my gender in a bed of blood and forceps. So my mother doesn't correct her. How could she? My mother knows nothing about me. Not even that I'm pink, not blue.

 She's been laughing for a while now and I am starting to feel queasy. The lack of control when being held prisoner is surely the most crawling sensation. Like an aeroplane passenger, like a hostage. Shoved in to a space with God knows what to accompany you and no choice of darkness or light, hot or cold, intelligent conversation or odious giggling. My mother sighs and the tides settle. There is a serious moment in the air, but the other woman doesn't know what it is and starts to move away still holding up a happy hum. My carrier is holding something back. I feel the stale breath shuffling around me. She holds some words under her tongue that only I can hear as the shadow of the bride grows smaller. She wishes her "Good Luck". And it is the crunchiest phrase she has ever uttered. She turns back to the shape of my father and expresses her next wish. To leave.

 Later, I wake on a an array of cushioning organs and kick my legs towards the light. My mother has no belly-clothes on now and lies on her back. I am skewered by the shadeless beams above her bed and I hear her chewing complaints about her sickness. Her sickness? Does she regret the cheap champagne? Yes she does. Does she regret the chicken legs melting from the bone in to her gullet and by proxy, in to mine? Yes she does. She doesn't regret it on my behalf. Just on the poor, sweet swimming nausea that she lies in, in her pants, in bed. I will never do this myself. I will never hold a person in my gut and subject it to all the humiliation and the hold-ups. She never thought of me once, not while she was selling off her sweet nothings to the bride and the minglers. She took me to a church without bothering to find out any beliefs I held and she ate the spicy chicken not caring that I would be marinated in orange sauce. She is complaining to my father as he sits hunched next to us. I can see his head bowed and his profile in silhouette as he wilts like a vine. There he is laden with unborn fruit and no one ever asks a question about him anymore. He's not even looking forward to my star entrance. He's waiting for the day when he can run away and forget these nights and days. Be young again. Like I will be. I have sympathy with him even though he's not my biggest fan. I have more care for the comic figures around me than the carrier.

My mother's dark-shaped arm lifts above my head and reaches for the man sitting beside her. Her hand brings something back with her. It's his hand and she places it above my head. Now I can see nothing. I am umbrellaed by parental affection and it's not only smothering, it's blinding. She says to him that they will be happy and that maybe they should do what the slow-dancing shapes did today. That maybe they should stand before a mixture of once-met uncles, corridor colleagues and floppy hats and declare an eternal commitment. My father agrees with a hand pat and a slick drop of enthusiasm that will drain away once he realises that the honeymoon will include me in my human form. She feels a little bit more comfortable now. I can tell because there are less bubbles. She feels like there might be one less thing to worry about. I'm the one to worry about. I'll be out soon, squawking over every degree of change in my surroundings. And I won't even look like her.

Having listened all this time, I knew that the wedding was the last place my mother wanted to be and that my father, clueless as ever was vaguely grumpy about having to wear a tie, but otherwise didn't really care where he was. The wedding today was just another reminder that there is a life planned out for everybody. The talk of a wedding in the future was going to be the sickly realisation that it would never change. The parents and the world and the rules and the armies say that little girls should wear their lipstick, grasp their babies, wear a band that cuts of circulation to the living heart. I knew all that, but I knew as well that my mother was sick with fear about seeing the ring oil its way on to the happy couple's fingers and the lurch was so strong that I was sure that really the man who walked beside my host was not the man who lost his fluids for me. I was sure that the man who did was the man who nodded and smiled at the front of the church. He might be for all I know. For all I know, my mother is in love with the bride. For all I know, my father is in love with all three of them. The problems don't matter because there will be problems whatever. It's surely one of the above, but nobody tells me anything. I am unimportant and am supposedly all-important.

 It doesn't matter, it will be difficult to ignore me one day. I won't do what they do. I am a speck of life and I have already learned from their stumbles. I am more than just a bit of her and a bit of him. I am pieced together by mistakes and accidents and educating falls. I have heard them talking, shouting, whistling, bitching and lying. I'm a mixture of all that, poured in to the mold of my choosing and shaken up by insipid wedding bells. I will not fake it. I will not force it. I am me. I am unborn.

© Tessa Foley December 2010

Tessa Foley

So I sat there on my time and a half minutes. I sat in garish light and cool colours waiting for the night to end and the year to begin. It was misery, but there was nothing else to do.

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