Kit and Other Oddities
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The thing I dislike most about the old buildings, converted into flats, with their meandering stairs and tiny corridors and slam-shut doors and buzzers, is how you can hear everything your neighbours are doing. Running the water to boil the kettle, arguing, moving the furniture, using the bathroom, watching porn. Sometimes fucking.

Like a crescendo, two of my neighbours and I came at the same time once. I lay with my hand tangled in my pubes, absently fondling the folds of skin down there, sweaty and sticky, and I imagined them sweaty and sticky too. Was it an act of making love or just a vulnerable moment? Was it all for show, or for a planned outcome - the blood-stained, grey-tinged little alien thing that may burst into the world in 9 months?

I guess I would know soon if she became gravid and I wouldn’t know what to say, because you can say ‘Happy Birthday!’ or ‘Sorry for your loss’. If you fear pregnancy, your reaction is somewhere between those two extremes. All I can do is blankly stare and, in my head, my interior voice yells out ‘Congrats – are you happy this one stuck?’ and ‘Hope it isn’t a dud!’.

Since I was 14 and my mother called my growing curves of womanhood ‘childbearing hips’, I knew what was expected from me in life. My breasts to become udders, hanging, from a sexual, teasing heftiness with pink-tinged areolas to feeding bags; for my stomach to grow the stranger within, marked forever, and become public property, to be touched without question nor invitation. Then the thing would burst from me without the intervention of cold, steel instruments, its first cries a wailing forever need for love as I try and hold my insides together; and then it would be a mewling, wanting, grasping forever-thing.

But I’ll do my neighbourly duty, and if she’s struggling with the oversized pram on our undersized stairs, I’ll dutifully lift the other side, and I’ll talk to the loaf-of-bread-baby (uncooked, underdone; they take so long to even look human) like it’s a real thing and force a smile at it.

I’ll smile at her, too, the woman I will never be; happy in her motherhood, even with nipples chapped and bloody, her stomach torn and opened with long claws, sharp teeth, all stitched up with surgical string and staples and sores. She’s somehow exhausted but glowing, and she’ll go into her flat for teatime, bath and bed, wine once the non-human human is in its crib.

And I’ll go into my flat, and I’ll run by my own schedule, the clock ticking past midnight as I spread languid on the bed, incense stick burning, candles burning too, wearing lingerie for just myself, and I’ll lazily rub my clit until completion, undisturbed, then remember to blow out all the candles, making wishes, before I slip off into a heavy slumber.