Thursday, April 30, 2015
Horizon by Cyn Vargas
The forty rays were like balloons on the wall each in succession holding a human baby at every week of development. The fluid in them waved, sun from the window made the fetuses glow.
The room had ten rows with five glass stools each. Women in thin gowns sat, their hands on their laps, the carpet tickled their toes.
All the women saw the same forty rays, but the fetuses were different depending on the woman. The red haired woman in the back saw fair babies. The brown skinned woman in the third row saw her fetus with mocha skin like it had just been tanning.
The woman with the darkest hair and lightest eyes sat in the last seat in the first row. She stared at the wall with the forty rays that protruded like those 3D stickers she had as a child.
She saw each ray hold not one, but two babies. Each connected to its own sac, swaying back and forth, and felt their heartbeats right in her belly button.
Ray #26 fetuses’ opened their eyes.
A tiny door was to the left. The women watched it opened when a bell rang summoning a specific woman. Flowers sprouted in between the requested woman’s toes. The sweet scent twisted around the waiting women.
The summoned woman slithered off the stool and slid along her stomach to the tiny door using her toes to push her forward. Her head disappeared first then her body turned to the side, so her shoulders could fit. Once her waist reached the doorframe, she was back on her stomach. The women watched until the other side plucked the last of her and when the door slammed all forty babies vibrated inside the rays.
The room was once again silent. All the women stared at the rays. Some cried, tears on their lips. The woman with the darkest hair and lightest eyes watched her two babies.
Ray 1, they were the size of peas.
Ray 12, they swam. Swirls formed on their fingertips. Their lungs still developing like pouring dough into a pan that’s not yet filled.
The bell sounded again. The woman in the fourth row with blonde curls slid off her seat like spilled water to the door. All the women’s heads turned and watched her. The babies in the rays, who could see, watched her. All the women seemed to applaud with their eyelashes, waiting for their turn.
The woman with the darkest hair and lightest eyes didn’t turn this time. Her mind ached. The room spun. Her body shook as if just pulled out of snow. The stool became hot. She glanced down, red tissue escaped. Then her eyes met Ray 36.
That’s when she noticed. Drops of fluid splashing from a tear on top of the ray. The babies tried to swim. Twenty fingers pressed against the bubble. The baby with the dark hair moved its mouth like a fish. The baby with the light eyes pushed at the bubble. A puddle formed underneath turning the carpet a bright red. The fluid decreased. The top of the bubble curled like the pages in an old book. Their heartbeats like a million running horses trampling her body.
The blood traced its ways down her legs, curving of her toes. She saw no rays after 36. Just four empty spaces where they used to be.
She went to scream for the bell to ring, but nothing escaped. The silent room filled with her breathing. The air clouded around her. Her dark hair now scattered with white strands like misplaced floss, her light eyes red with thin squiggly lines. She saw the women staring at their own visions of the rays. The two seats that were empty now filled with new women.
She stirred in her seat till she pushed herself off before the bell was ready for her. The woman landed hard on her knees. The wall within her reach, but the more she inched, the more the blood flowed between her legs.
In Ray 36, the baby with the light eyes flipped upside down, so that it curled itself enough to be fully submerged in liquid. The fluid evaporated from the invading air. The top of the dark haired baby’s head was exposed and began to wrinkle.
The bell rang. The door opened. A dark woman made her way off the stool. She glided on the floor passed the woman as though she wasn’t there. The blood she went over didn’t smear on her. The two women like snakes escaping in different directions. The rest of the women watched the door as the dark woman disappeared on the other side.
The woman finally made her way to the wall. Her hands sticky from the blood, she pulled herself up. Her eyes leveled with the bottom of the bubble. The light-eyed baby, upside down, pushed its face to her and she traced it feeling the contours of it through the elastic thick film then the feet of the dark-haired baby kicked. The liquid now below the rim of the lids, the eyes now white.
She yanked her hands from the wall, layers of skin hung like twigs. She tried to push some liquid from the bottom of the bubble up like a tube of toothpaste, but it only splashed the shriveled head and eyes with few drops.
The scent of flowers filled the room as the liquid disappeared, the baby that had her dark hair rounded its mouth for its last gasp. She traced its feet as it shrunk, floating on its side, the other baby underneath covering its face.
The bell rang again. Flowers sprouted, thorns sliced between her toes. The dark haired baby was gone. When the bubble burst, she caught her other baby in her arms, both falling into the soaked carpet. She crawled covering its head as she turned to the side to fit her shoulders through the door.
Cyn Vargas' short story collection, On The Way, was recently published by Curbside Splendor Publishing. She is the recipient of a Ragdale Fellowship and the Guild Literary Complex Prose Award in Fiction. She was named one of Guild's Literary Complex's 25 Writers to Watch and has received two top citations in Glimmer Train's Short Story Award for New Writers contests. She is a company member of the award-winning storytelling organization 2nd Story. Her work has appeared in Chicago Reader Fiction Issue, Word Riot, Hypertext Magazine and elsewhere.
This Zine Will Change Your Life previously published So It Went by Cyn Vargas. Check it out.
Street artist unknown.
Photo by Adam Lawrence.
NixonLove is lo-fi bedroom rock of Chicago's Liz-E Gavillet. She is currently signed to Good Bear Records and released her latest EP, Sweat Heart, earlier this Spring.