The Swamp By Kristina England

July 18, 2016 § 1 Comment

My older sister holds up a banana peel, some of its threads dangling. “You shouldn’t throw these away immediately. You should let them sit.”


“Because you need to slip, fall feet first into the mouth of a bull, contemplate what that feels like. This mandarin will help you do that.”

I smell citrus, blink, and she’s gone. So are the remnants of my breakfast, except for the pulp. I flip through a large binder that only has one idea throughout, the same philosophy that gets me dressed in skirt-less suits on weekdays to claw my way through cubicles only to find every office occupied by lethargic bulls.

I decide to eat an invisible fruit. It is fleshy, not like my screwdriver arms. It’s better for the little man inside who pokes at the last waves of my waterbed belly. He used to be my mother, shaking her head at my dog-like appetite, but since, he’s morphed into every steer I know.

My older sister reappears, grinding an accordion, her dress made of buttons, her hands stuck to the box with stitched staples.

I cover my ears. “You should oil that.”

“It’s not meant to sound good. None of it is.”

“Go play your menstruating tune to someone else. It’s not my problem you can’t keep any fish.”

Her face streams into a pond, the rest of her body positioning itself in disappointment.

“Why already in your pajamas?” my younger sister asks. She is the shadow at the end of a lit room. She was eaten by wolves in my mother’s stomach. So was my younger brother, though he came out alive and permanently confused. He does not make his way into my head. He has nothing to prove.

I pull on a pink evening gown; cover my face in glitter. Then, I spill apple juice all over my feet, let it morph into a baby.

“Is that better?” I ask.

“Where is the steering wheel?” my sisters bellow.

“I am the wheel.”

The man in my stomach barks with anger. I rummage through the refrigerator, get to cracking, fizzing, stomp him out with a greasy egg sandwich.

“I don’t need a driver. I never needed the apple juice either. Why is the floor so gosh darn perfect?”

I take a shovel from my spine, start smashing at tiles. The baby cries in the sink. He is real. He is very, very real, so I hand him to a woman who looks like my older sister. She stops grinding, turns into a trumpet.

I go back to the kitchen, keep digging until I splinter my spine, hit jellied rock, and cave through, my own pond a swamp, murky, thick, polluted by the eyes of others. I let myself sink in, find no bananas, no mandarins, no over-compressed accordions, or bulls, but even in the bog, I can hear a baby crying my name.

© 2016 Kristina England

Kristina England resides in Worcester, Massachusetts. Her writing has been published in several magazines, including Gargoyle, Silver Birch Press, and Story Shack Magazine.

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