My sister says it again.
‘Big Momma won’t want you,’ she says.
I’ve told her before how sick I am of her saying that, but she doesn’t listen. She never listens. So for once I decide not to waste my time think-speaking at all. Instead I wait until she’s asleep, then I reach out with both hands - these stupid arms are still too thin, too short, the hands and fingers still aren’t big enough - and I grab her umbilical cord. My right hand grabs it about a fist’s width from the point where it disappears into her fat belly, my left twists in below. Her umbilical is more than double the width of mine, and that’s why she’s big and I’m little. There’s nothing I can do about that. Baby, baby, life ain’t fair, sings Big Momma when she’s in a blue mood, and she’s right. I learned that one early - as soon as I realized my pig of a sister was slurping up, not just her own share of Big Momma’s Good Stuff, but at least half of my share, too.
I stop a moment and look at her - I’ve got great nocturnal vision - floating beside me. She’s upside-down, or I am. It’s all relative. I shake my head and tell myself I’m probably about to make a bad mistake, because even asleep my Pig-Sister is the biggest, ugliest, nastiest, most threatening thing in my current universe - and I know she hates my recently-formed guts. When you think about it, it’s amazing that I’ve survived as long as I have.
No, I really shouldn’t do this, I know I shouldn’t. But right now I’m angry. Right now I’ve simply had enough of the ‘Big Momma won’t want you’ crap and I want a little satisfaction. A little revenge. So I go for it. I tighten my grip on Pig-Sister’s umbilical, squeeze as hard as I can, and give it a good yank.
She wakes up and her thought-yelp screams inside my head. ‘Hey, you scum-bag! What the hell…’
She tears my hands away from her cord and lashes out with her right foot. The heel connects with the side of my head, but even her feet are padded with fat so it doesn’t hurt. Not much, anyway.
‘I’ve told you before,’ I yell. ‘You’ve got no right to say what you say. You don’t know. You don’t know what Big Momma feels about me!’
Pig-Sister expands herself, taking up even more of my personal space. She could finish me off in seconds, and we both know it.
‘Listen, you little dork,’ she says. ‘In case you haven’t noticed, I’m more than twice your size now, and getting bigger all the time. The only reason you’re still alive is I don’t want your dead body floating around in here and polluting my fluids. You got that?’
I consider going for her, but decide against it. What would be the point? I settle for a glare of what I hope looks like defiance. But I also nod.
‘Good. Now, let me tell you something else. I doubt that you’re actually gonna survive Big Momma’s labour - I sincerely hope you don’t - but if you touch my cord again, if you lay one shitty little finger on it, I guarantee you’ll never know one way or the other. You won’t make it that far.’
She kicks me a good one. Same spot. Harder this time.
‘Have I made myself clear?’
I don’t answer fast enough, so she lashes out again. Fat or no-fat, that foot of hers is hurting now. I see her pull her leg back a fourth time.
‘All right,’ I say. ‘Yeah, you’ve made yourself clear. Now lay off me.’
She smiles, deliberately showing vicious gums. If I didn’t know better I’d swear she’s already got a full set of teeth.
‘And one more thing…’
‘If you don’t want that pathetic excuse for a penis chewed off, you’d better get the damn thing out of my face!’
I drop my hands and cover myself. I don’t think she’d go that far - but I know from past experience it’s better to be safe than sorry. I try to twist around, aiming to turn my back on her, but it’s not easy. We’re eight-monthers now and there’s just no room for manoeuvre any more.
Gradually we settle back into our customary mutual disregard.
I curl up and listen to the noises outside. Big Momma has friends around for coffee and I hear her muffled voice coming through the walls. I like her voice. When I’m born, I hope she likes my voice. I hope she likes me. I hope she likes me better than she likes Pig-Sister.
Big Momma’s laughing about her babies banging around inside of her. Our womb tilts, and somebody else laughs, and hands are pressing her belly and my temple hurts where Pig-Sister kicked me. I force myself not to rub it. She’s watching, I know she is, and I won’t give her the satisfaction.
I close my eyes and try to calm down, but my head’s exploding with the thought that if Big Momma goes full-term, I’ve got another month of this, and to tell the truth I’m not sure I can handle it. It’s a lethal combination - endless waiting in a confined space with your sworn enemy. There are times when it gets so bad I think about biting through my own cord and ending it all, almost before it’s begun.
But then I think about the girl. The one who reckons she’s Born to be Wild. That girl’s my secret, my inner strength. She’s the reason I know I’ll get through these dark times. I think back...
You know, it wasn’t always like this. I remember the first few weeks after conception, and they don’t seem so bad now - better than the present, anyway. It’s true that floating around inside another human being is never going to be my idea of fun - but at least in those early days there was room to move, to stretch, to thrash about a bit. Didn’t seem like much at the time, but it was. You live and you learn, I guess. Unfortunately, while you’re living and learning, you also grow.
There’s another song that sums the situation up for me, one Big Momma sings. Big Momma likes her music, and when she cleans the house, she sings. Sometimes she sings this old song about a big yellow taxi. It comes through OK - not exactly hi-fi, but good enough to make out the lyrics and the tune. Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone? Whoever wrote that song knew a thing or two. Take it from me, once you hit that seven-month mark, baby, that’s when the claustrophobia really hits home. Especially if you have to share the place.
That’s Pig Sister’s biggest problem, I guess. She’s just no damn good at sharing..
You know what? When I’m born I’m gonna track down the guy (you can bet your life it wasn't a woman) who designed the womb and I’m gonna set him straight on a few basic facts. He got so much wrong, in my humble opinion. I mean, it’s not just the lack of space. There’s also the dearth of on-board entertainment, which is a disgrace in this day and age. Jesus, is it any wonder every foetus I’ve ever met has been psychotic? What else can you expect when there’s nothing to do in these Waiting Wombs but listen to the thump of Big Momma’s heartbeat, or maybe count the gurgles in her guts? OK, so you can measure how much your arms and legs have grown, or you can finger-press your fontanel to see if you can prod your own brain, but that soon gets old. Even the thrill of finally being able to suck your thumb (once you’ve developed a mouth to suck with, and a thumb to suck) doesn’t last long.
The one time I got a little relief from the ennui was back when we were just five-monthers and Pig-Sister wasn’t quite such a monster. Big Momma had taken the three of us off to some clinic, and all the time we were there I kept hearing voices. They’d come and they’d go. The Pig didn’t seem to notice, but that didn’t surprise me. She’s not what you might call sensitive.
There I was, floating around, minding my own business, and suddenly I heard: ‘This woman’s an idiot. A complete idiot. Just my luck to have…’
It wasn’t the Pig. Different accent, different voice. Then I heard another one. ‘It’s dark. It’s so dark. Maybe I could dig a tunnel…’
It took me a while to figure out what was happening, but I got there in the end. The place must have been packed with other Big Mommas, dozens of them, and whenever one went waddling by I was getting blasted by foetal thought-waves. I’m used to the crap my sister pumps out - it’s usually about food, or the Barbie dolls she’s heard about on Big Momma’s TV, or how much she hates me - but I didn’t know until then that I could pick up stations from outside, as it were. It was welcome stimulation, but at the same time pretty scary. Believe me, there are some truly messed-up foetuses sloshing around out there.
There was one guy in particular who kept repeating the same thing over and over in this weird, high-pitched thought-scream. Christ on a stick… there’s no ROOM for THREE! Christ on a stick… there’s no ROOM for THREE! Over and over again, like he’d really lost it. I remember thinking that maybe I wasn’t so badly off after all. One thing for sure, his Momma was in for some fun once he and his siblings popped out.
And then I heard her. The girl. My very own secret, the girl I’m gonna find one day. I liked the sound of her straight away because she was singing a song Big Momma sometimes sings - Born To Be Wild - and overlaying some fine syncopated beats on her own Momma’s lower ribs.
Get your motor runnin'
Head out on the highway
Lookin' for adventure
And whatever comes our way
Yeah Darlin' go make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space
Like a true nature's child
We were born, born to be wild
We can climb so high
I never wanna die
I was mesmerised. I could almost see her bopping about inside the womb, and I wished then with all my heart that I was sharing with this girl, this true nature’s child, instead of being incarcerated with The Pig. Me and her, we could have had some fun together.
And you know what? If I have my way, one day we will have some fun. Whatever Pig-Sister says, I’m gonna get born, and I’m gonna live my life and Big Momma’s gonna love me, and I’m gonna love her back. And then one day when I’m strong and healthy - when I’m BIG - I’m gonna track down that girl and show her that we were made for each other. Yeah. We’ll get ourselves together and we'll rev up our motors and we'll head out on the highway and we'll do every damn thing we can do to make that old song come true.
That’s my dream. That's how it’s gonna be.
First Published in Peninsular Magazine