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Today's Story by Gabriel L. Bellman

You’re all so beautiful. Where are the bodies that belong to you?


It was criminal, all those vaginas staring at me, frowning with their lips, swiveling with their hips, acting like they’d never met me from the crease of their jeans, from behind the scenes, waxed and combed and made presentable. It was like I was just a trophy to them.

“Vaginas,” I whispered, “what brings you in here?”

They had begun to surround me, some of them upside down, some at eye level. Most of them just kind of hovered, waist-high. They didn’t answer, except some of them, the blonde up front, and the Brazilian to my left, had begun to moisten.

“Are those tears, vaginas? Are they tears for my absence?” They didn’t answer, just kind of floated around. “What am I supposed to do? I can’t screw all of you at the same time?” A hush set over the room. “Wait,” I yelled out as they began filing out, “I can try!” I ripped off my clothes, ran around naked, chasing the vaginas like little butterflies. One of them, it looked like it was Sarah’s, landed right on my shoulder and I reached slowly for it, but it fluttered away.

“Dammit,” I muttered. “You’re all so beautiful. Where are the bodies that belong to you? I bet they’re worried about you, it’s getting late, after all, and somebody is going to notice if you’re not there when the sun rises and it comes time to shower and get dressed.”

But they didn’t leave just yet. They came to me in the night like that for three weeks, always leaving before daybreak, just in time to return to their owners and not be noticed.

“Little vagina,” I held a small, dark one, “where have you come from?”  It looked scared, and I told it not to worry.

“Don’t you understand, vagina, how wonderful you are? You’re going to have a beautiful future. You are going to create a whole person, a whole body will be born from you, you will replicate yourself, the whole universe in miniature will be painted by your comb, brushed with your creation. I love you.”

The little vagina tickled up against me for a moment, and then left down the street. Sure there were others, but they were cold in comparison to my favorite little vagina that appeared just then.

I gathered them together one night out of sheer exhaustion. “Listen everybody,” I exhaled, “this can’t go on.” They fluttered a little bit, tiny fairies, teasing me with their coy whispers. “What? Did you say something?” It was silent, but there was a whisper again. “What is it?” I continued, “What did you say? Did you say anything? I want so badly to hear you, to know you, to understand you, to hold you, kiss you, put you in pajamas and feed you ice cream, I want to climb up stairs with you until my knees buckle and I look at you and tell you my goddamn knees hurt and I want you to explain to me that tiger balm will help it feel better, I want you to bring me soup when I’m sick, I want to show everybody pictures of us, and not just dirty pictures, but the kind of pictures that stay creased in wallets, I want something other than Polaroid’s, I need more than this, I know you care about me, but there’s so many of you I can’t possibly keep this up, what if somebody wakes up and you’re gone, how can I keep you from the world, I need you to save me from myself, to yell at me in care, to blink at me in freedom, to hope at me in silence, I need you to need me but not say so, love me but not care so, care for me but not need me, I need the paradox of a person . . .”

It got quiet, and the word ‘person’ hung in the air like a dirty ham sandwich. I wished right away I could take it back.

“I don’t mean it, vaginas, I didn’t mean to say that, I’m just tired, I didn’t think, can you forgive me, it’s so late, I’m so dumb, I . . .”

The vaginas had all dissolved into memories of twenty five years ago.

They became mothers to sons I never met. They became friends to strangers to me. The carefree ones became more reserved. The reserved ones became more free. None of them visited, except one.

She came to me late one Autumn as the trees burned yellow and the sky faded black. We sat in silence on a park bench as the light twisted sepia tone colors across the both of us like we had just been smeared into a fading photograph.

“Mom,” I lamented, “where does everybody go?”

“Shh . . .” she whispered, “don’t worry so much about the vagina. They’re feral spirits. They belong to people, when tamed, if tamed, but they’re just small parts of the whole of humans.”

“You mean girls?” “You know, you started out in a vagina.” “Mom, don’t start with that Freud crap again.” “I’m just saying . . .” “What are you saying, Mom?” “I’m just saying . . .” She was smug, that one, and she knew it. She told me she was getting old and she disappeared, turning into ashes in a casket as we all told stories.

“You know,” I told everybody, drunk on plum wine and tears, “that’s where I came from.” I pointed at the coffin. “The vagina that my mom tamed!”

“Get the hell down from there you drunk asshole!” everybody yelled.

“My mother loves me!” I was drunk and I tripped.

A whole swarm of vaginas hovered around me, and there were men and women, too. Everybody waited to see if I had died too, I guess, but I was so happy to see the vaginas again, I could barely open my eyes with joy.

“You’re back,” I whispered, “it’s so good you’re back!”

Some arms and hands pulled at me, put me back in a standing position, made the world swirl. My feet held the ground heavy.

“Don’t let them make you barren!” I called back to the vaginas as the people shoved me into a cab amid ‘he’s drunk’ and ‘he’s upset’-type comments.

“Where to, Mack?” the cab driver asked me. “Take me home,” I decided. “Where’s that, Mack?” “You know, my man, that—that is a very good question.” “I need an address, Mack.”

“Take me to where the butterflies go when they leave in the night, to the place where life begins, to the holiest secret of all, to the mysteries that unfold life itself, to the inner workings of them all, I want to turn back everything, I want to get back to the beginning, and they know it, they know it, somehow they make it, they can make it . . .” I was drooling and I hit my head against the window.

“You okay, Mack?” the car began driving. “No.” “You know,” the cab driver turned around, “I feel them too, sometimes. I get chills in their presence. Sometimes I can feel them in the same room as me, even when they aren’t there to see me, and I just weep and weep, Mack, I can’t stop it neither, it’s just so goddamn beautiful this whole fucked up world, the way it all turns around on you, the magic of it all, the goddamn magic, you know, even with all the war and stuff, Mack?”

I felt like he wanted an answer from me, but I was pretty sure that I was asleep in my own bed, too, and that the cab driver hadn’t said anything, at all, it was just me and images of soldiers and death and so my nose crusted over with depression.

I pulled myself out of the hole. “Thanks for the lift,” I mouthed into my pillow. “I needed it.” I climbed back in and the darkness of the night swallowed me into warmth and I dreamt I was swimming in a warm lake. I reached down to hold my belly-button, but I couldn’t find it.

It wasn’t there yet.


This piece was read as part of a production of “Action Fiction!”, sponsored by Fiction365 and Omnibucket.   

Read more stories from Action Fiction! productions.


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