In Blood

New story? New story! It’s been a while.

Content warning: includes language that talks about sex and revenge / violence and teen pregnancy.

You are ten years old when the first one slithers down your leg while you’re taking a shower before bed. You don’t know what it is at first. You watch it curiously, eyes half-closed, as shampoo suds froth on your forehead. It slides past your kneecap like a scarlet slug and plops onto the white fibreglass base. Slowly… Slowly… It swirls in the water, then disappears down the drain. 

You put your fingers to your private place and explore inside; pull them out to find them stained sticky red. You watch the warm liquid trickle down your wrist, and you scream, and you scream and you…

You are eleven when the vomiting begins. You curl up in bed with a blue plastic bucket, unable to keep anything inside you. There’s no room, of course, for food, that is. For the space is already taken up by the monster writhing around in your belly. You can feel it clawing and scratching and scrabbling to get out from the wound between your legs. 

The school nurse is useless, unsympathetic, says there’s not much she can do.

Your mother is upset and refuses to talk about it, says she doesn’t have the words to explain. She gives you a book filled with strange images, and words you don’t understand. Your sister, Ella, tells you it’s normal, it’s part of who you are, and reassures you she feels it too. It’s part of growing older, she says, but you don’t want to grow old, yet.

In the evening, she brings you a giant bag of fake-Cheetos, the dime store brand that you like. You put each one to your lips to suck the flavoured dust, and your mouth is ringed with orange. Later, you’ll remember that orange ring, transferred to other places. A perfect sunset circle streaked on fresh white pillowcases. 

You are twelve when Ella sneaks you the pills; small and pink and sweet. You must take them at exactly the same time every day or else the world will surely end. She doesn’t say it quite like this, but you know it’s true. You must keep them hidden from everyone else, a secret only you and her share. Momma and Pappy, and the lord God Himself, will certainly not approve. 

You crunch them with your Weetabix and swill them down with your juice (no pulp; you hate the bits). You feel something clogging up your throat and you cough a brown globule into your hands. You squelch it in your fist and Momma dry- heaves in disgust. She tells you not to play with your food. 

You wipe your palm on the tablecloth and it leaves a smear like a hateful memory. A mark of shame, of sins you can’t cleanse. Things you did, and things you saw. Unwanted and forever repressed.  

You are thirteen when you find Ella slumped in the bath, half-naked and cold and weak. She is so much smaller than you thought she was. The three years between you both felt so much greater. There are things in the water that you don’t recognise, slender and sharp and red. And something else, something… No. You will not look. Her skin glistens with sweat, a rainbow sheen, but all you can see is the pain. 

You shake her and shout her name in her ear, and she mumbles a groggy reply. You slap her cheek hard with an open hand, just like you’ve seen in the movies, and she says a word that you know not to repeat. Slowly, gingerly, she pulls a towel from the rail, rolls it up and puts it to that dark place. Whatever this was, you know never to speak of it, there are some things that can’t be put into words. But you hear her sobbing every night through the wall you both share, and you wish you knew how to comfort her. Help her stop.

You are fourteen when… When… It happens. You’re just fooling around. You’re young and in love. At least, you think you are? He says you are, and he must be right. He is so much older than you, and he knows about things that you don’t. But you let your guard down. You let the monster in.

No. You don’t want to talk about that. 

Fourteen and the monster makes you swell. There is nausea, like before, but the pain seems to stop. Then comes a steady parade of dour doughy faces, of instruments and uncomfortable tests. Of magic wands drawn across your skin that beam images onto the TV. 

Ella comes with you, holding your hand in hers, keeping the worst of it at bay. She fields question after question while you can’t speak, rendered mute by confusion and shame. They say things like it is a miracle, a sign of God’s will and it’s a blessing and a gift. They say you are old enough to consent, but you don’t understand what that means.

All you do know is you forgot to take the pink pills and your favourite t-shirt doesn’t fit you anymore; the peach coloured one with Rainbow Dash and Apple Blossom. You put it on, and their features stretch and distort, and somehow this upsets you more than any question you’ve been asked or anything you’d been told to do. You don’t care about the insults strangers spit at you in the street, or the names you are called at school. No, they upset Ella more than you. She says she’s going to help you, somehow, that she should have helped you long before. 

You hear her arguing that night with Momma and Pappy, something fragile crashes to the floor. Momma says what the Hell can we do? She should have known better. Should have kept her legs closed! Ella screams and Pappy yells, and you want to run to them, to tell them to stop, but instead you curl up very small and rock… Rock… Squeeze your eyes closed… Go away to your secret place… 

It is dark when you come back, and the house is quiet. The next morning, Momma tells you Ella has gone. You check her room, and the wardrobe is empty, the bed is stripped and bare. But underneath the mattress, she has left you something. Not a miracle or a blessing or anything from God, no. This is a genuine gift. 


Fourteen feels like it lasts forever, and you have no say in what you can do. Choices have been made for you, decisions you can’t contest. Your whole life dictated by wizened old men with skin like uncooked bread, their judgement and distain croaked and crowed with features like melted wax. Momma and Pappy keep you home. They bring you everything you need, but never give you anything you want. 

You don’t know what is going to happen, only that the monster wants out. You question; is this why Ella left you a gift? To aid with the monster’s choice. Surely not.

You suck orange dust from the dime-store snacks and wonder why it suddenly feels like your middle is being squeezed in a vice, and why your legs feel warm and wet. 

Fifteen, you are fifteen. You put her to your breast, and she wriggles and squirms, and you are delighted by how it feels. You know you would do anything, anything, in the world to keep her safe from harm. You call her Hope, and you hold her on your hip, and you brush her hair with your fingers as she dreams. 

You lie together in the same bed, and you wonder… 


Wonder what your life could have been like.  

You are sixteen when the monster comes calling again, full of apologies and regret. You lie there, eyes closed, in your secret place, remembering Ella’s gift. 

Sixteen, and you wait until the early hours when the sky is velvet black.

Sixteen, and you wrap Hope in a blanket and kiss her tenderly on the head. 

Pappy is snoring like a freight train when you steal the keys to his truck. You know you’re going to get into so much trouble, but it’s time to take your power back. You must do it for yourself. For Ella. For Hope. For everyone born with the capacity to carry life inside them. And for those, like you, who found that life thrust upon them, told they must weather the consequences, no matter what and how they occurred. Those who were spurned, scorned, shunned and enslaved. Innocent lives reduced to a statistic. Sex, a cautionary tale. While dough-faced men pat themselves on the back, celebrating a cruel job well done. 

You stand in silence on the manicured grass, scrape your nails down the painted lawn sign. You read his name emblazed underneath a headshot; a stuffed suit with a shit-eating smile. Ella’s gift is clutched tight in your fist. Is this how it feels… God’s will? 

In the darkness you stand like an angel of wrath, warm bodies unsuspecting while you watch them. You put a hand on his chest and lean down low, your rage contained in a whisper. 

“For Hope.”

His eyes snap open at the sound and—

Sixteen, and you slay the monster… The real monster… Not the one that you thought lived deep in your stomach or the imaginary one under your bed. And there is red, red, so much red… 

You watch the warm liquid trickle down your wrist, and you smile, 

and you smile,

you smile.

Last Modified on March 31, 2024
This entry was posted in Creative Writing
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