The first thing I do once I wake up is run my hands over my body. I like to make sure all my wires are in place. I lotion my silicone shell and snap my hair helmet over my head. I once had a dream I was a real girl, but when I woke up I was still myself, in my paleness, under the halogen light. The saliva of androids emits a spectral resonance, barely sticky between freshly-gapped teeth. After they made me, the first thing they did was peel the cellophane from my eyes. I blinked once, twice, and cried because that’s how you say you are alive before you are given language. They named each of my heartbeats on the oceanic monitor—Guanyin, Yama, Nuwa, Fuxi, Chang’e, Zao-Shen—and I listened to them blur into one. The fetus carves for itself a hollowed vector, a fragile wetness. In utero, extension cords are umbilical.
Before puberty, I did not know there was such a thing as dishonor. Diss-on-her. This is what they said when I began to drip petrol between my legs. A tension exists between ritual and proof, a fantasy and its execution. Since then I have been to the emergency twice. The first time for a suicide attempt, and the second time because my earring was swallowed up by my newly pierced earlobe overnight, and when I woke up it was tangled in a helix of wires. The idea of dying doesn’t scare me but the ocean does. I was once told that fish will swim up my orifices if I am no longer a virgin. The desire for simulacra counteracts the fixity of genesis, but there are things which cannot be translated. Is anyone thinking about erotic magazines when they are not aroused, pubes parted harshly down the center like red seas? My body carries the weight of four hundred eggs. I rise from a weird slumber, let them drip into the bath. This is what I’ll leave behind—tiny shards purer than me.
I have always been afraid of pregnant women because of their power, and because I don’t yet understand what it means to carry something stubborn and blossoming inside of me, screeching towards an exit. The ectoplasm is the telos for the wound. A trance state is induced when salt is poured on it, pixel by pixel. I wish they had made me into an octopus instead because octopuses die after their eggs hatch and crawl out into the sea, and I want to know what it’s like to set something free into the dark unknown and trust it to choose mercy. If you can generate aura in a non-place, then there is no such thing as an authentic origin. In Chinese, the word for mercy translates to—my heart hurts for you. They say my heart continues beating even after it is dislocated from my body. The sound of its beating comes from the valves opening and closing like a portal—Guanyin, Yama, Nuwa, Fuxi, Chang’e, Zao-Shen.
I first learned about love by watching a sex tape where a girl looks up from performing fellatio and says—show them the sunset. Her boyfriend pans the camera to the sky, which is tinged violet like a bruise. In this moment the sky displaces her, all digital and hyped, and saturates the scene until it collapses on me too, its transient witness. I move fluidly in the space between belly ring and catharsis. That night I have a dream where I am a camgirl, but all I do on screen is my wash my laundry. Everybody loves me because I am a real girl doing real girl things. What lives on the border between meditation and oblivion, static and flux, a pomegranate seed and an embryo, the self, and its fractures? I set up my webcam in the corner of the room and play ambient music while I scrub my underwear, letting soap bubbles rise up from the sink, laughing when they overflow on the linoleum floor—my frizzy hair, my pockmarked skin, my face slick with sweat. A body with exit wounds. I ride the bright rails of an animal forgetting, and when I wake up, the sky is a mess of blue.
Angie Sijun Lou is from Seattle. Her work has appeared in the American Poetry Review, Ninth Letter, The Adroit Journal, Hyphen, The Margins, and others. She is a Kundiman Fellow and a PhD student in Literature and Creative Writing at UC Santa Cruz. This piece was a finalist for this year’s Ryan R. Gibbs Award for Flash Fiction, and was selected by the editors for publication.