Light and Sleek and Strong

Ephiny Gale


Wyld FLASH – November 6th 2020

When I wake from having my breasts surgically removed, multiple apocalypses are in progress. The national news program playing opposite my hospital bed focuses on the hundreds of enormous fires ravaging the Australian landscape, but also touches on the deadly virus racing across Asia, the severe flooding throughout Europe, and the indiscriminate bloodlust that has struck America, driving frenzied citizens to brutally attack their family, friends and neighbours.

So this is it, I consider with toxic dissociation: the time I was out was the line between life and life’s epilogue.

My sister had planned to be here when I woke, but obviously circumstances have changed. The hospital is barely running on a skeleton staff. Once I feel strong enough I pull away my oxygen mask and ease the intravenous drip from my wrist. I check the waterproof dressing they’ve attached to my chest, thankful that I don’t seem to have needed a wound drain or a bladder tube. I toddle to the bathroom to piss and sip water from a cup beside the tap, then dress gingerly, still too drugged on painkillers to feel much more than exhausted and weak.

Even in the apocalypse, a tiny part of me is gratified to pull on my shoes and sock without my arms hitting my boobs.

And there they are, sitting on my bedside table in a large plastic jar sealed with biohazard tape: two huge discarded lumps of breast tissue. I paid extra to take them with me. If they were smaller they could’ve stayed on, but they had been approaching a H cup and I considered them a health hazard.

I pick up my breasts and walk myself home, while ash catches like snowflakes in my unwashed hair.

#

By the time I’ve struggled through my front door, social media is reporting a planet-destroying asteroid minutes away from colliding with earth. Seems like overkill, really. I collapse on the cold tiles of my bathroom where the halogen light above me is pleasantly, painfully bright. I study my biohazard breast tube where I’ve plonked it on the toilet seat. It doesn’t seem very fair that the world is ending before I can properly remember moving without them shackled to my chest, but life has never been fair.

Something in the tube sparkles at me. The doctors washed down the tissue before they put it in the tube, and fat can be shiny, but it doesn’t glitter.

I sit up awkwardly, rolling onto my side first to avoid using much of my upper body. There, lodged into the breast fat: the tiniest sliver of colour, canary yellow and sparkling. I retrieve my nail scissors and attack the seal on the jar until I can wrench it open. I am dimly aware of how deranged this would appear to an outsider, and perhaps I’m still delirious from the surgery, but apparently this is how I want to spend my last few minutes on earth.

I extract the canary yellow sparkle with tweezers. When it slides free it reveals itself to be a disc, perhaps three millimetres thick and roughly the size of my thumbnail. Translucent and glittery, like nail polish or rock candy; I have the sudden, overwhelming urge to put it in my mouth.

I check my phone. Asteroid hitting in five minutes now. The tiny disc slips past my lips, not tasting like much of anything, just the vaguest impression of cold animal fat. I swallow.

I dump the breast tissue out of the tube and onto the white tiles, ripping it apart with my scissors and tweezers. I find four other coloured discs of similar size – candy coloured orange, purple, green, and pink – and swallow them all. Then I lie myself back down, close my eyes and wait to die.

#

Death seems to take an awfully long time, and there’s only so long you can be shit-scared without the danger coming to pass.

I may have fallen asleep. When I eventually check my phone the asteroid has magically changed course, the fires have extinguished, the floods have dried up, the virus and bloodlust victims – those who hasn’t already died – have recovered. Nobody understands what is happening and everyone is crying with grief and/or relief, or they’re like me and throwing up bile into the toilet bowl.

#

Two days later, I am more settled on the toilet when my phone informs me that the asteroid is back, the fires are back, and I may as well lie down again and wait to die.

On auto-pilot, I stand and look at my shit in the toilet bowl like I have every other day of my life. As my hand reaches toward the flush, I see a purple glint amongst the mess in the bowl and immediately freeze. Two instances doesn’t quite make a pattern, but…

I hurry to pull on some latex gloves and lay a large garbage bag on the bathroom floor. On top of the garbage bag I sift through the shit for the candy coloured discs, and before long I am amazed to find all five.

I rinse off the discs and douse them in Listerine, which will have to suffice given the apocalypse is imminent. I scoot out onto the balcony to see the asteroid hanging in the sky like a guillotine razor, and then place the discs onto my tongue and close my lips.

The asteroid veers dramatically to my left.

Well, then.

#

I spend the next three days shitting directly onto a garbage bag, which is far from the glamorous kind of ways one imagines saving the world. While I am waiting for the discs to re-emerge I am convincing my cousin the vet that I need him to secure the discs inside me in some way. This is much easier to do once the discs leave me again and I can visually demonstrate.

My cousin sews the discs under the skin of my right thigh. The skin above the discs never bounces back quite the same way as it used to, but the same apocalypses never come back, either.

My thigh heals faster than my chest, so they end up recovering around the same time. The world is still trying to rebuild itself. If I knew that removing my breasts was going to lead to such catastrophe I never would have gone ahead with it, but now there’s no use crying over spilt breast tissue.

 When I leave my front door I feel light and sleek and strong. I can breathe and move so much more easily. And under the clear sky, for the first time since I started adolescence, I start to run.

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Author Bio: Ephiny Gale is the author of more than two dozen published short stories and novelettes that have appeared in publications including ‘Beneath Ceaseless Skies’, ‘Constellary Tales’, and ‘Daily Science Fiction’. Her fiction has been awarded the Sundress Publications’ Best of the Net award and the Syntax & Salt Editor’s Award. More at ephinygale.com

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