I was a child the first time I heard a woman critique her own body. I remember thinking, Let me look in a mirror for just a minute. I’m sure there’s something wrong here. I’ll find it. And I did. I was a bean pole kid, but if I bent over far enough, I could pucker the skin of my belly into tight crisp pleats like the shirts at the mall, folded just so, over and over. Disgusting.
My sister was different—bigger, but only compared to me. She was perfect, and oblivious. It scared me to watch her take up space without apology, something I could never do; I lacked her instinct for joy and indifference. So I invented my flaws—enmeshed and obscured, I was safe in the commonness of my self-hatred.
My sister was only four years old the day the doctor expressed concern for her being “a bit on the heavier side,” as he put it; he’d stifled a wily grin as he whispered “heavier” and sideswiped a glance at my sister. I watched as my mother considered her play, tonguing her feral fangs. I thought the awakening’s anguish dripping down my sister’s face would set her off. But she straightened, exhaled a tempered breath, and smiled. “Oh, yes, thank you, sir”—a lilting refrain from her phrasebook of the good woman’s chorus. And that was that.
It happened again today, this time with my daughter. I ran my tongue across my teeth, and then I tore his fucking throat out.
Vic Nogay writes to explore her traumas, mis-remembrances, and Ohio, where she is from. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Versification, Rejection Letters Lit, (mac)ro(mic), Ellipsis, and other journals.
Read more by Vic Nogay at linktr.ee/vicnogay.