The girl fetched herself a spoon from the kitchen drawer, the biggest one she could find, the one with long and oval slots that was probably more sieve than spoon when it came right down to it. She held the spoon tight in the hand opposite the one she used to balance herself as she descended the stairs, her mother’s voice from so many warnings past still reverberating in her, the voice light and thin but nevertheless using heavy words like “crash” and “cripple” and “die.”
“Don’t let that smile fool you,” she’d overheard her father say once to the girl’s older brother, older not in years but in that he was a boy and offered responses to his father that were never more than a series of blinks. The girl wasn’t sure what the sequence of words meant when her father chained them together like that. She had only heard them; she wasn’t in the room when they were performed for her brother, underscored with big motions of his hands. The words she’d clung to weren’t ones emphasized by the heavy baritone of her father’s voice, nor were they the ones her brother predictably blinked to the way you’d expect a child to do when a parent says something disparaging yet nonetheless true about another parent. The girl heard the father’s directive, but focused on the words “let” and “that.” Being as young as she was, she didn’t even know she was doing this.
The girl descended the stairs down to the house’s garage with these words in her head, down to where her mother kept her gardening tools and supplies, down to the double-braced metal shelf the father purchased and wrenched together in the twilight hours of an otherwise totally ordinary Mother’s Day. The girl wrenched open one of the colossal bags of bedding soil, at the top where it instructed such a thing be done. The girl successfully accomplished this not because she could read or had seen it done before; it was a combination of luck and intuition that performed the feat. Dewy, peaty bag air filled her nostrils as she breathed in a big breath of it, pushing her nose all the way inside the hole she’d just made, the warm dark mush of soil sticking to the very tip of her nose. She took two more breaths of bag air before pulling her neck back enough so she could see all that plastic and condensation, its world dense and coarse, a night sky punctuated by stars of bone and rock. Possibility space. She considered it without using the words in her head, or the ones printed in reverse on the plastic outside: “miracle,” “release,” “feeds.”
Then she pulled all the way back, up and out, her eyes once again parallel to the metal lip of the shelf on which the bag had been resting before she arrived. She pushed the spoon into her other hand, the hand that had guided her down the stairs to even arrive here, and used that same hand to plunge the spoon deep into the bag, a beautiful little violence.
As she pulled the spoon up and back into her line of sight, she watched the night and bone and rock and stars spill over the sides and fall through the slots. She paused to watch this, the clumps and gobs and asymmetry of it all. That big smell, full and even bigger in the smelling places of her body, her brain afire and knocking against the inside of her skull. She shoved the heap of the world past her lips–all of it, all at once–and felt the scrape of metal and bone and rock against her teeth, tasted the musky sting of everything, and did her very very best not to breathe anymore. Did her very very best just to swallow, to close her eyes, and simply wait for the new planet inside her to take form.
Trevor Dodge’s work has appeared in publications including The Butter, Little Fiction, CHEAP POP, Juked, Hobart, Metazen, Western Humanities Review, ELJ, and many others. His latest books are The Laws of Average (Widow + Orphan) and He Always Still Tastes Like Dynamite (Subito).