When your mother’s stomach moves, that contortion and throbbing from within, I know what neither of us have admitted aloud. That you are a deep sea monster.
Childhood visions of what it must have looked like inside my mother: red blood cells floating, and all of those vital organs churning and contracting. But that isn’t right. For inside the body only so much light can peak through, and no light at all to that inner, most protected space where you wait. You do not know sight. I might liken you to some small, benign creature, merely existing in blackness. But you kick. You are not peaceful. You grow. Unchecked, you might know no bounds. A Giant Spider Crab, with twelve-foot legs. A thirty-foot Giant Squid. Scientists don’t know for sure why these creatures that grow deeper grow larger. Again, I revisit childhood visions. The sureness that in darkness any nightmare might come true.
But who can blame you for wishing to escape, not only this darkness, but the jagged terrain of your mother’s skeletal structure? Like life on the bottom of the ocean, every movement is treacherous, promising you will be scraped or impaled. That sensation the entire smell of the world is encapsulated in those innards, coupled with the prospect that there could, perhaps, be, some softness somewhere beyond these walls.
And there is the matter of food. Of sucking off of your mother’s predigested stores. The doctor says you can taste now. Just starting to differentiate between different forms of predigested pulp and sludge. Greedy for more and more and more and more and more. Taste, perhaps, your best defined sense, not unlike fish with taste buds throughout and outside their mouths. A body devoted to flavor.
And I wonder if you hear us, really. The Tori Amos songs your mother plays through oversized headphones clamped to two points of her distended belly. Our conversations. Our arguments about how we’ll raise you. Our fears, equal parts about what it would mean to lose you and what it would mean for you to outlive us both. Our hopes you might represent the best pieces of us. Our wondering about whether you’ll like the outdoors, and to read, and to sing. About whether you’ll take to swimming.
Our sea monster.
We love you unconditionally.
Michael Chin was born and raised in Utica, New York and is a recent alum of Oregon State's MFA Program. He won Bayou Magazine's Jim Knudsen Editor’s Prize for fiction and has work published or forthcoming in journals including The Normal School, Passages North, and Bellevue Literary Review. He currently works as a contributing editor for Moss. Find him online at miketchin.com or follow him on Twitter @miketchin.