Monday, 28 June 2021

'Fossil' by Adele Evershed

She sits in bed looking at the circle of frosted trees—it would be beautiful in another time. Trunk, branch, twig, she runs through the words—a thesaurus of remembering. She flicks off the blankets and studies her toes; dredges her memory so she can put one foot in front of the other. Foot, heel, ankle, calf, cow, milk, baby. No, not baby. There is no baby. She swaddles herself back beneath the covers. There is no word for a woman who once grew a baby for thirteen weeks, and this seems almost too much to bear. How can anyone move through this world without a label? 

In that other time, she was a lexicographer, studying words she knew what she was; female, daughter, sister, wife, expectant-mother. Now she is made up of what is not there—a negative space.

She curls in on herself, stuffing her hair in her mouth to muffle the sound of her; fracturing, crumbling, collapsing. She will bury herself deeply in the middle of this bed and become a pearl ammonite, rippling around the core of herself and growing shell layers to bind her breaking. Her teeth will become stones, and her hair will become rarer than feathers. Her bones will fall like a pick-up-sticks game, and all her empty space will disappear into the waiting arms of the trees.

Years from now, she imagines the bits of her being dug out of the milky sheets and weighed in hands so they can finally understand the gravity of her shattering. And that you can mourn for someone you never knew. They will hang a shelf with rope and place her there, writing out a label—her world fell through her, and these are the remains, remnants, rest.

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