At the sea, the stone became the problem.
I’d carried it for months: A black slab of obsidian trapped in my guts, that hard lava. Every movement jostled it. With each step or bend of my body, I felt it move like a sick child inside of me. On city streets, the stone was notorious for expanding slightly, the sharp edges pushing against the delicate lace of my organs until I lost my breath.
Evenings, I placed my body on dark lavender sheets and ran a hand over my abdomen. There was a swirl of sickness, sadness of all the world in the stone radiating through me. I nursed the terror like a mother, tears streaming, silent, rocking, doubled over, alone, breasts swollen.
Every once in awhile, I had company. Men in bed would touch the skin stretched over the stone and I’d wince, squirm.
"You like that, don't you?" the men whispered, touching again.
My breath quickened. My limbs went rubber from pain.
"Don't you know what you are doing?" I whispered.
The men kept caressing, going hard.
By spring I was manless. I kept the stone to myself and it grew that way: ever-expanding, a solid void. I stopped the process of laughter, which would cause the stone to reach up my throat and clench. The stone began to speak to me.
“Sleep, sleep,” it would hiss in the night. “No one cares for you like I do.”
I slept with it there, thinking inside of me, a second brain.
The phone rang in the morning and it was Lis.
"Come to the sea," Lis said.
I nodded at the phone. I pictured the sea, a deep relief from the sharpness of the skyscrapers, the hard city.
Then the dread began, the stone started leaking the sadness of the world into my blood and organs. I shook my head at it.
"Yes, Lis," I said. "The sea."
The sand was white hot, too brilliant in the sun, a long diamond. The sea was ravenous on the shore, hungry blue.
"Other languages only have one word for the color blue," I said. "No cerulean, none of that turquoise shit."
"Seems right," Lis said. Lis was wearing a red one-piece. I was wearing a black tank top and denim shorts to please the stone, which liked modesty.
"You always say that," I said. The stone nodded in my stomach.
"A tape recorder repeating 'seems right' would be a better friend," the stone hissed.
The thought worked up spine to brain stem. All around us, body shapes were lumbering and jostling and flabbing around. The whole world was suddenly sad as cellulite. The stone grew from the depression of it. I wanted the sea to suck us all away.
"Whatcha thinking about?" Lis asked.
"Leave the moron," the stone hissed. "Go to the sea."
The stone was a sister by now. For months it had been a part of me. It was deep in my organs and veins. My shoulder skin burned. The sea licked at the sand.
"Lis, stay here," I or the stone said.
We moved our body up from the sand. We took off our tank top and our denim shorts. We took our burnt, sandy body to the sea.
We shrieked at the cold frosting of the sea foam, then we gave in. We made our way out through the teal of the waves. Then we were a speck on the shimmering horizon, here to learn if we could swim together.
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