SHORT STORY CONTEST
MEMOIRS OF AMAZONIA
by Esther Cohen
I shed my mother like snakeskin. She knew I would be the death of her. When my hyperdevelopment first became noticeable, she and my father were encouraged to abort as soon as possible. But my mother refused. She was not naïve to her fate. She was ready.
I was born at 5’10. Since my monstrous emergence sixteen years ago, I have gained a mere five inches. I theorize my steady plateau is due to my lack of maternal nourishment. When I’m not being interviewed or tested, I’m being pressured to become a basketball star. Unfortunately for the WNBA, I never liked sports.
He raised me alone, and, as one may expect, begrudgingly. The older I got, the more accustomed I grew to his drunken tirades of me “wearing my mother like a bloody coat just to throw her off without any appreciation for her warmth.” Though I never met her, I loved her very much, and found her unconditional love to be profound and far-reaching, even posthumously. I adapted to his rage by retreating to the privacy of my room and speaking to her. These conversations like desperate prayers provided a strange comfort amongst the chaos of my helpless situation.
I found myself asking her if my father had truly appreciated her warmth—if my conception, at least, was pleasurable for her. On rare occasions I heard what I knew to be her whisper in my brain: “Your father is a man, like any other man. I didn’t matter to the task at hand.”
At thirteen, my doctors thought me ready to be grievously informed of the graphic details of my monstrous emergence.” Though I had heard it through my father’s angry vernacular my whole life, I did desire the objective truth.
“You had been wearing your mother like a sort of coat, you see… it is certainly a medical miracle that she made it to your birth, considering what we have termed your hyper-ultra-extra- super-nonviable-preternatural development. Whereas a normal baby would remain comfortably curled up in the womb, not exceeding two feet by birth, you surpassed these bodily limits at twenty weeks. Your limbs extended into your mother’s, causing her endless and incredible pain and ostensibly fatal complications. And oh, as if you were a normal baby, you did kick, but of course your kicking was agonizing—again, ostensibly fatal. However, it was only once you started to push out that she gave in. After she died, you birthed yourself by shedding her like . . . a sort of snakeskin. Essentially, you tore her apart. Decapitated her with your own head. Ripped the cord by sheer force. She was just scraps by the time you were out. It was horrific to watch, especially because you were crying and screaming, as if you were a normal baby. But you were a full- grown woman. Our records show you were 5’10, 150 pounds, fully formed . . . breasts, hips . . . Quite frankly you don’t look much different. Although now you’re clothed, of course!”
Then they laughed.
“We didn’t know how to handle you, of course. It looked like you could just walk on out of the hospital and go on with your life right then and there, but obviously that wasn’t the case. We couldn’t pick you up, so as not to violate you we had no choice but to leave you sprawled over the scraps of your mother until you stopped crying. Your father had left at that point. He was vomiting and screaming. It was quite a mess. He refused to name you so we took the liberty of calling you Amazonia!” The doctors smiled at each other.
“And it took quite a lot of manpower to keep those reporters out! Of course a few of them got pictures of the afterbirth. We’ll show you those next year. Eventually we had to allow them in, after you calmed down and we could evaluate your heart rate, breathing, muscle tone. Your poor father had to deal with all their questions. If only you could have talked then! We’re all big fans of your speaking capabilities. Especially because we all thought you would turn out retarded!” They all laughed again heartily. I was a very funny incident indeed.
Of course I had honed my speaking capabilities. I had constant practice with near daily interviews after I started to form logical strings of sentences around age seven.
They all asked the same absurd questions.
“Amazonia, do you remember living inside of your mother?”
“Amazonia, did you intend to kill your mother?”
“Of course not.”
“Amazonia, was it hard growing up?”
“Did you have sex with your father?”
“Amazonia, when did you start menstruating?”
“Were you ever molested?”
“Did you ever consider getting your breasts reduced?”
“Are you planning to play basketball?”
“What about modeling, Amazonia?”
Needless to say, I have insisted my few friends call me Amy.
* * *
At fourteen, they showed me the pictures. There I was, curled up in a ball naked and red, crying over the gory flaps of my mother. Apparently we were both bathed in so much blood not only because of the gruesome delivery but because my menstrual blood had been clogged in the womb. How embarrassing. But I was hardly moved by the image. Looking back on my life, I understand how unaffected I was by the carnage.
The first time my father raped me—that I remember—I was five years old. I’m sure he thinks I’ve forgotten, or perhaps he’s forgotten. He was completely drugged up, after all, for the first few years of my life. I was five years old. My mind had not even started to fathom what my body was already capable of and asking for. The world had cursed him, so why should it matter how he fulfilled his male urges? Besides, to him, I was not his daughter. I was an evil, otherworldly vixen living under his roof. Or perhaps it was that I was a part of her yet, the last piece of flesh clinging to her corpse, and that allowed the intimacy.
It was not, however, the first time a man had tried to touch me. When I was a baby they assumed I was some retarded slut they could haphazardly get away with fucking. My father knew that and tried to keep me inside at all costs. So I spent my early days cooking and cleaning for him, pouring his drinks, lighting his pipes. He had it good with the famous Amazonia. I was his retarded slut.
It was quite easy, obviously, for him to trick me into thinking my impregnation was a nine-month tummy ache. For those nine months he kept me locked in the house, feeding me cookies and ice cream and praising me for getting so nice and fat. It was the first time he treated me with any warmth, so of course I kept on eating and eating even though the cookies and ice cream kept hurting my tummy so much.
On the day of my first son’s birth, that warmth ended. I was, as any pregnant six-year-old would be, horrified and confused. I had no idea what this huge creature was that was suddenly crawling out of what was then known to me as my pee-pee. It was an absolute nightmare. As my son emerged, my father started screaming, shouting it was a monster, kill it, it’s a monster! I was already writhing in pain and fear but had been relying on my father to tell me everything was alright. He assured me it wasn’t—things were terribly wrong, and it was my responsibility to save us both from the monster in me.
The sound of my father’s screaming combined with my son’s cries was deafening and red. I just wanted it to stop. With him still hanging out of me by an alien-like cord, I tried to squish the bloody creature. After three resounding stomps, the crying ceased.
It was then that my father spit in my face and told me I killed my own son. I try not to think about why this was the way he had things go.
I know it’s hard to believe, but it wasn’t all bad with my father. He was a man like any other man, after all. Sometimes I try to remove myself from the trauma and recall with simple warmth our times of relative normalcy. For a year or two he desperately tried to teach me basketball. I think he figured if all else failed I could be a legend on the court. He couldn’t have been more wrong. He gave up on training me, but we would still play for fun sometimes. Oh, how he’d laugh at my miserable attempts to dribble, my utter failure to block him, and of course, my poor sportsmanship. “I’m glad your mother isn’t here to see this,” he would say. My mother was great at the game, he told me. She not only had the height, but the strategy, and the spirit. They used to play together until nightfall, laughing like we did. She always won. Those backyard games with my father were the only times he spoke to me about my mother without blaming me for her death, or telling me how much I resembled her as he raped me. They are the only truly happy memories I have of him, memories where I was too young to grasp how deeply he was abusing me.
After my body recovered from the birth, he gave in to the doctors’ pleas to study me. They worked out a good deal for Amazonia to be in the public eye again. That was when the interviews and tests began. My doctors convinced my father to allow them to do yearly tests to track my growth, note any changes in my development, take samples of my DNA. I don’t really know the extent of what they took from me.
The bright side of these invasive tests was that the next five times I was impregnated it was in their hands instead of my father’s. Even though I was then capable of speaking and explaining myself to the men who tried to prey on me, I was still a retarded slut with no authority to stop them. I didn’t dare to physically stop them, convinced by years of my father and the doctors’ warnings that I would be just as useful as a cadaver. So almost every other year it seemed I came to my test with a new monster inside.
“Amazonia, again?! Oh ho ho, sweetheart, don’t you know how to use protection? It’s too bad we can’t put you on the pill. Alright ol’ girl, we got a new babe to test! Think this one will grow as big as you?”
They never showed evidence of my anomaly, so the doctors always chose to abort.
* * *
My father started to theorize that hyper-ultra-extra-super- nonviable-preternatural development was in his blood alone. He could sense the doctors losing interest in me, as my growth had reached a steady plateau and my sons continued to prove unremarkable. He needed to keep up his funds, so he tried to impregnate me again, convinced he would be the one to conceive the long sought after titan. As he came toward my body, his foul hands touching my enslaved skin, I was catapulted back to my traumatic labor as a toddler. For the first time, I tried to stop him. I screamed at him, I begged, but it only empowered him. He wrung me by the neck and forced his way in. I cried out in terror and disgust, desperately trying to escape my body. It was then I heard the voice I knew to be my mother’s. She said to me, “This is how you were born.” As he violently thrusted, I whispered to her in my mind: “Then I shouldn’t be alive.” I then pushed him off of me, breaking his arm. It didn’t take much. He screamed in horror, shouting out “Bitch! Slut! Monster!” Nothing I hadn’t heard before. I felt myself growing stronger with each word, finally embracing my Amazonian power. I held him down tightly, like he had done to me so many times, spit in his face, and stood on his eyes with my gigantic feet. I smashed and smashed until the screaming ceased.
I never intended to kill my mother. I never intended to kill my sons. But I did intend to kill him. I looked at the man below me and, for the first time, recognized how small he was. My father couldn’t have been more than 5’5. Maybe 130 pounds. He was a small man. It wasn’t like I couldn’t see that, but I never realized how easy it would be to destroy him. It was then, Mother, that I realized my father had stood next to You. I saw You, towering over him on the moonlit basketball court. I realized You and I must have lived a very similar life. I realized You sacrificed yourself not only for me, but for him. You wanted to escape the monster in him. Perhaps You hoped I would destroy it.
* * *
What was the cause of our bad bloodline? To house men seemed my birthright. I was never their mother, their lover— only an invaded home. Predators filled me with parasites. They fed off of me, used my body for warmth, and left long before I could learn to love them. Killing my father was the first and last time I controlled my own body. I am proud to have fulfilled its fatal potential. Successfully I have satisfied my namesake. Successfully I have accepted my monstrous emergence. Unfortunately for the WNBA, I must be kept inside again.
Because of my father’s untimely death, I am officially the property of my doctors. Now they can test me without boundaries. Now they can answer all the right questions.
“Is it true that Amazonia has had multiple abortions?”
“Is Amazonia’s hypersexuality related to her hyperdevelopment?”
“What is it in Amazonia’s blood that led her to lose it?”
“Can we get a picture?”
* * *
It has been six months since they successfully inseminated me with a hyper-developmental son. I can feel my body being filled to capacity. He has already surpassed the bodily limits of an unextraordinary child. His mesomorphic limbs have started to extend into mine. My anatomy is starting to appear as merely a second skin, a thick pelt protecting the true prize. It is heartbreaking to witness now the sensational pain I caused You, Mother. I hope I didn’t kick as much as him.
He seems to be growing faster than I did. His broad physique stabs my round hips and soft torso. It will be a miracle if I make it to his birth. A part of me hopes we both don’t make it. A part of me hopes he will fail the doctors that await with such excitement the miraculous birth of the perfect man. But they say he is stronger than me. He will be the death of me. He will be a hero.
In the privacy of my hospital cell, I speak to You. Though I never met You, I love You very much, and find Your unconditional love to be profound, far-reaching even posthumously. These conversations like desperate prayers provide a strange comfort among the chaos of my helpless situation. I am not naïve to my fate. But when the image of him tearing me apart comes upon me, I instead envision returning to You, to wade in a pool of blood that is all our own. I feel You, comforting me as you whisper, “This man will be a man, like any other man. You don’t matter to the task at hand.”
Esther Cohen is a kindergarten teacher from Brooklyn. She has been writing short stories since she was a little girl. She holds a B.A. in Gender Studies and is currently working toward her Master’s in Education.