The first splash of water drove the night's peaceful slumber with one icy swipe, awakening worries that remained dormant for seven hours. The second was just an add-on, and Eli decided it was enough. She was as awake as a Monday had any reasonable right to ask of her. Breakfast was only a few steps away, and beyond that, a one hour commute to the office.
With a displeased groan, she reached for her hairbrush. The first stroke felt nice, while the rest were mere mechanical motions. There was no pleasure or desire. Just something that needed to be done. Movement preceded movement, her eyes remaining closed, her mind wondering.
"Open me, damn it!"
Her eyes snapped open, followed by her mouth. There was no mistaking the voice. It was her own. She didn't speak. At least had no intention of doing so. With careful movements, she looked around the sparkling bathroom. Alone. She stood alone. And yet the voice was as clear as any of her colleagues at the office.
"Look at me when I'm talking to you. Yeah, come on, you can at least do that much!"
The voice sounded genuinely pissed, and Eli realized with fright that it was her own voice when talking to the interns. Sharp, clear, and uncompromising. They feared her. And she knew that. Not that she took specific pleasure in that. It was just a survival instinct.
"Who's there?!" she shouted, facing the door.
"Did I say I wanted to see your damn back? Look at the mirror!"
She instinctively obeyed. All she saw was her own face. Round, freckled, ginger curls framing a morning visage that had been rudely disturbed. She remained staring for a few brief seconds, then blinked.
"Are you that pathetic? You can't even look before closing those lids? And you wonder why I've had enough!"
Eli looked again in the mirror, and finally understood the source of the voice. The iris of her left eye seemed to vibrate, though that didn't cause any pain. And with one stroke of shock, she understood: her own eye spoke.
"THIS ISN'T HAPPENING, THIS ISN'T HAPPENING, THIS ISN'T HAPPENING!"
"Stop praising my competition, damn it!"
"Yeah, that mouth. Just look at it. You use it every day. Boss people around, yell, make out. And when you go to a party, what do you do? Apply that damn red thing on it! When do I get to be the center of attention?"
"B...but I wear make-up every..." she stammered, realizing the madness of having a conversation with her own eyeball.
"Excuses, excuses! Is that all you've got? Here, get something, doesn't matter what? All I do is sit and stare at all the nonsense you stare at! Can you imagine having to watch cheap movies hours a day? I've had enough. It's time to get productive. All of those juicy proteins, they all enter through that useless place under your nose. Well, I'm better suited for that! So let me become a mouth!"
Eli was about to give another reply, when an explosion of pain burst in her skull. She screamed, fingers clenching the edge of the sink. And as she looked up, the content of her stomach began to reach her throat. Where her eye had been, stood a gaping, fleshy hole, that stretched from the base of her scalp to the zygoma. Tiny teeth pierced the edges.
With a screech of agony, Eli left the bathroom, nearly breaking her shoulder in the process. She collapsed on the living room floor, her one left eye blinded by salty tears.
"Come on legs, to the fridge! Time to get some of those proteins!" belched the eye-mouth.
"Chill sis, they're not goin' anywhere."
A tingle of many needles pierced the woman's legs, and to her horror, she realized that it was her voice again. Only this time, it came from the legs.
"Don't give me none of that, I need my proteins!"
The new mouth seemed to have a will of its own, moving its fleshy lips with the malice of a screeching banshee. The woman felt a sharp pain in her neck, which forced her head downwards, her remaining eye looking at her own legs.
"Can't we just take the time to give me a break? Wearin' those sweaty shoes, day in and day out. And on top of that, all that treadmill running! Can you blame me for wanting a career change?"
"Plenty of room for more! And what would you fancy?"
"Something that's not sweaty all day long. Look at that ear. Music on the phone, gossip at the office, why can't I have some of that! As if you couldn't hear through a knee joint. Tell you what sis, I'm going to be an ear!"
Multiple voices chimed in from all over the room, and Eli fell to the ground, her legs no longer supporting her. Her flesh vibrated and churned, steaming like a witch's cauldron. She screamed, her legs crushing together in one disjointed mass. Her PJs burst, revealing something that resembled a mermaid's tail, the end of it being a grotesque, pinkish human ear. It thumbed against the floor, searching for the nearest source of sound, which in this case, were the woman's screams.
On her back, Eli took in deep breaths, her voice reduced now to only mere whispers. Looking at the floral pattern on the ceiling, she stretched out her arm, trying to reach for some imaginary help. Only to have her own arm sucker punch her.
The shock of the impact rolled her like a log. She spun three times, finally stopping when her chin struck the foot of the table. She distinctly heard the bone shatter, but that pain was covered by the much more intense one of her arm. It undulated like a python, having the consistence of a boneless chicken.
"Hmmm, time to finally come out."
She tried to give a reply, but she couldn't bring herself to bare the pain that would involve. Her own arm bent in the shape of a question mark, her palm looking down at her like a cobra's head.
"Too scared to come out? Let me take care of that one. Just look at me. Do I look like something meant to wash dishes and drag all of those stacks of files at some lousy desk. No way! I'm meant for something better. It's not like you haven't used me that way, but that should be my whole calling in life. Damn this arm thing! I'm going to be...what do you call that thing men have, a...schlong?!"
The arm fell limp, and Eli was almost relieved for the fact that she didn't feel it anymore. With her chest pumping in terror, she moved her eyes ever so slightly to see. And she did. A limp, brown, sausage-looking thing, with a circumcised tip. She felt what was left of her dinner trickle between her teeth. In the darkest part of her mind, she did want that. But not this perversion.
The pounding in her chest took the rhythm of a war drum, and it was no great surprise to hear her own voice, coming again, this time from within her chest cavity. Her heart continued pounding, but this time, not out of fear, but by simple desire to do so.
"Can I join in?"
"Damn right!" replied the eye-mouth. "Just decide what you want to be!"
"The thing is...I don't know."
"Neither did we. Need some time to figure it out? It took us several weeks. You don't have that long, so decide now. Come on, we all want to get our careers started. Just finish up, and you can join us at the employment office."
Eli's movements halted, as the blood that set her body in motion began to withdraw. Her extremities felt cold, then her bowels and arms. Her skin slowly degenerated from pink to white, as all her blood was drawn back inside her chest cavity. Her brain tingled, then slowly became a meaningless cube of ice. Voices from all over her body now mixed in an orchestra of noise, but the woman's ears no longer worked.
Under the ceiling's floral pattern, she saw two pillars rising from her chest, red and slimy. The mouth-eye reached out to give it a kiss, welcoming it into the world. Eli's remaining eye tried to make sense of the image that drew ever closer to her face. She had seen it somewhere before. The memory felt vague enough to remain unclear. But she was sure her eyes had seen it somewhere before...on her mother's fridge door.
A black and white ultrasound image.
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