by Kate Whittington
My birth is a juddery one. I am seized by quick, tight spasms and then torn jaggedly from white unborn skin. I am imprinted quickly in strong black lines. There is little after-flow of blood.
Into her hands, her fingers, warm jittering fingers and wrists damp with scent and sweat, little nicks of skin by her nails and tendons shifting to create hollows and ridges. Light feet on the stairs. Folded up in fours, like a window pane; she rubs a thumb across my surface and takes up ink between circular tracks of skin. White lights run in streams overhead and the plastic fogs with spit and breath, she works creases into folds and wrinkles into creases and no-one on the bus is looking at us.
In the back pocket of her jeans as she strides across the pavement. Dark shopfronts blur past, marked by the steady beat of lampposts like bar endings. She speaks for the second time outside a dark blue door. Then she goes in.
Bodies come close to hers, fingertips flex on my corners and over the strip of skin above her waist. I can’t see faces, only limbs and loose clothing, jackets that open out with spinning round and long hair flaring. She dances with girls and boys and they come shuddering towards one another with open mouths and heads tipped back, knees and spines bending in their centres. Everything in her that is skin and blood and bone has eased, and no longer moves in trips and starts but through the slope of her back, the dip under her ribs and the tiny marks her camisole is making down the sides of her shoulder blades.
She leaves after more touching, the slump of thighs and chests together and breathing into other mouths; she starts running as soon as she gets outside and we are sucking the clear night air in together, through eyes and teeth and the open spaces between her knuckles; running faster and faster and the wind rips at the edges of hair and shirts and at me – I jerk from her pocket in a gasp, a stutter which she continues to run from.
Her steps slow. The bus draws up. Against the tarmac I am shivery, convulsing out of my control and snatching around to see her walking away, hand in a smooth circle around coins and the pulse slowly growing erratic, the last I see of her feet, light on the stairs, and thumbs, warm over a new ticket.