How do we judge the worth of a person?
What happens when we falter, when we commit acts that offend our own values?
What effects do shame and silence have on our lives and relationships?
a novel by Maura Lin
coming in mid to late Spring, 2023
She is all right. She stands, but a wave of nausea follows, reaching into her throat and encroaching on the back of her tongue. She tastes bile. A jab in her middle forces her to sit down. She spreads her fingers over her abdomen again, her concentration drawn to the unfolding fist. She pulls her knees to her chest to contain it, to keep it from pressing and pushing, and she pivots her body ninety degrees, so she is facing the foot of the bed. She lies back against the damp sheet. The squeezing expands further into a wide arc, moving from her pelvis back through to her vertebrae. The fist, pummeling her lower back, now turns, opening its fingers forward in jagged waves. The fingertips dig at her pelvis.
She will try to keep the fist in the center. She will try. Alice tightens the muscle between her legs but to no avail. The fist is stronger now and gaining momentum. It won’t let up. It is going to split her apart.
Warm liquid trickles and then surges between Alice’s closed legs, forcing them open. She reaches for the cool bars of the iron headboard to brace herself. As the flow subsides, she senses something between her legs, and she reaches down to touch it. It is round, slick, and waxy. The form is propelled forward in another wave, and it moves outside her body. And then behind the roundness, her fingers brush something slippery, spongy, with contours, valleys, and hills. Underneath, it is solid.
Curious, Alice runs her fingers over it. There is no doubt now.
Resigned, her labored breathing narrows, then slows. For a few moments, the only sound inside the room is the movement of her own air drawn in hungrily through her nostrils and then out in grateful sighs through her parted lips.
Later, Alice finds that she remembers the sound of her breathing most of all, up until the first lonely wail.