Wailana Kalama :: Once There Was a Woman

Once there was a woman who left her memory on the counter.

Once there was a woman who, sitting in the library, had an unquenchable desire to shave her head. It was an odd hunger, she felt it in her stomach, in her throat. It was connected to sex in a way, power but she was not sure if it was a form of dominance or submission. She liked the thought of what would this mean, an action wholly and entirely for herself. She was turning into liquid with the intoxicating thought of her agency. To be hungry for a loss, that is what freedom is, remaking yourself, one by one. To be outside in and full of all sorts of penetration that she couldn’t fathom.

Once there was a woman who was turned on suddenly, like a lamp. The first fuses were short and made sparks and frightened a few squirrels who were close enough to see it.

And all she thought of day in and day out was sex and sex and sex, not how it was before it was all surface and glass but rather how it had a possibility to tear into her.

She liked the thought of being torn, it was like a fate whose responsibility she could not claim, it was her acid, it trickled through her fingers like that strange nitric acid that turns your fingers yellow after you touch it if you don’t wash it off at once. It frightened her but she loved the idea of this indelibility, put it out on the platform of her mind, the edge of her cliffs. Her answer to the tear question was a firm Yes, and she was made breathless by the limitlessness of that yes, and how it made it feel powerful, even as the fringes of her body were turned yellow by a mysterious No from somewhere deep inside.

She became obsessed with her body, all 47 blue and black roads of it, the bile and phlegm and blood were waking up inside her and she could feel them flowing. She woke up every day aware of her centers—the centers of her tear ducts, her solar plexus, her belly button, her ear canal, the aching omnipresence of an ulcer in her stomach—hot, hungry centers, valves that breathe in and out. She liked her body because it was maybe something constant even if it poured out of her every morning.

She bit her nails, often bloody and chewed on hangnails and especially her toenails which she liked the taste of, like old skin, like a callus, as hard and shaved as an apple.

She always thought she’d brush her teeth, but she never did.

She lifted her feet up to her mouth and liked that she could, and she liked the way her body seemed to open when she did this, her hips blooming wide, rising, a loaf of bread.

She didn’t like birds because she thought they were dirty. They were as pretty as aliens but dirty and unapologetically so, and couldn’t be forgiven.

She liked fucking, liked how it made her liquid and earth at once, she was sopping mud and it was deeper than emotions and moods, she liked to dress herself in its primeval. She liked that it never seemed to end, sex was an ever-present punctuation, a comma on which she could rest and look over the planets and deep sea fish with their self-reliant light.

She was overwhelmed with the knowledge of what she wanted, but this was useless as what she wanted changed day by day. She wanted sex but also protection and domination and freedom and cherry-flavored lips and death industrial music and unicorns and cuddling and the list went on. She became aware very gradually that she was speaking in lies, always, because all of her truths turned into lies the moment they left the cavern of her mouth. She pictured herself as a prism, with countless faces, yes no yes no maybe maybe.

Her Yes pierced past the realms of assertion into necessity, and she was all sorts of aware of being driven mad, no not mad, but on a path of consumption where she was so busy eating she did not remember how to digest. It became a stirring, developed into a putrefying hunger, it made her sick with longing.

She liked to masturbate but not in public places, because that would be a way of claiming a place, and if not really hers or anyone else’s, what was the point? But she liked to do it in other people’s homes, because she imagined the men or women of the house fucking her, shaming her, liberating her with their verdict.

She liked fucking but it also bothered her that most of the fucking was when she was tipsy or drunk, as if she was an engine ready to go, alive and revved up, but when sober she died out, sputtered out, sexless after all, never reaching ecstasy or whatever that was all about, actually it was like she was impotent and desired nothing except when drunk—or maybe it was simply that she was afraid of rejection.

She thought all this fucking might somehow lead her down a path she couldn’t escape, and because she didn’t want to be too far from one possibility or life choice she was afraid to follow it, to venture past it, have it burned in her identity like a tattoo. It might force her to choose and take away from her sense of being a shapeshifter.

It seemed unfair to her that she could never be stardust so she imagined a world where souls transformed into stardust and nebulae and dark matter after death.

Then it seemed unfair to her that she would never know what it was like to be a dead bird, or a spider, or a rock wall, so she imagined a world of reincarnation.

And she thought this must be what god is, pure possibility and unknown chance and limitlessness.

And this was the only thing she accepted as truth in her world, although of course there was the possibility that it wasn’t.

The days rattled on mercilessly, and she grew aware that she was learning nothing, creating nothing, just consuming but she couldn’t help it, she was fathomless and it seemed that all the expressions and experiences that were possible on this earth were saltwater and just made her unsatisfied and still thirsty.

Her consumption of things made her sick, as only overabundance can, she was feeling as if the whole world was watching her and there was nothing she hated more than being watched. She liked to wander in places she’d never been and never go again because this way she would not really be watched but ignored mostly, stripped of anything but her surface. Her surface was the only thing people saw and she saw only their surfaces too and it was not like there was a lack of connection or lack of trying just a purposeful ignorance instead of that dull, numb feeling and that suspicion that she was dying, ever so slowly, shrinking and receding, a twig curling in the fire.