In the Midst of Everything

Flash Fiction by Kate Rose

She discovers that she can’t stand television. It’s not the length, or the ill-fated cliffhangers, or cheap attempts at emotional relevance that she despises. It’s the stories. Stories about boy-and-girl, and boy-fucks-girl, and girl-becomes-mother, and daughter-hates-mother. She wants none of these things.  

So she kisses a girl on the floor of her dorm room and has a panic attack. It was maybe the nerves (read: butterflies? wasps?) that caused it, or the memory of the boy who kissed her when she didn’t ask for it and whose tongue tasted like cinnamon, or the stifled sexuality deep inside of her that was smothered with the leather-bound bible her mother gave her when she was thirteen. 

So she will try again later, after the god has left her body. She meets a girl at a party that burns like the sun, tells her she is beautiful, and lets the girl show her what loving looks like. But the problem with loving, she realizes, is that everything is brought into the light. Every mark and blemish, every quirk and habit. And with this she is wracked with an understanding. That she is ashamed of this hand-me-down body. Of not knowing if it is her own or someone else’s. And she is tired. She is tired of dying and having to resurrect herself as something new. She is tired of cinnamon breath and mothers’ bibles and wasps in her stomach. One last time, then. One last attempt at contentment. 

So she cuts her hair and gets a nose piercing, a tattoo her father likes to comment on, and starts believing in God again. It looks different than her parents’ god, but she prays again and doesn’t feel alone this time. She learns how to love her patchwork body. She stops standing on scales when she gets out of the shower. She pays careful attention to the parts of her that she liked to tuck away and forget about. Everything about her gets sunlit. She isn’t quite girl anymore, isn’t quite anything. Just soul and vessel, who likes to write about abstract things, and kiss girls, and runaround in the dark until they are rosy-faced and breathless.

Published 2nd February, 2023.

. H O L D E R . R E W A R D S .