after Michael Martone
AUTHOR BIO: Cat Ingrid Leeches is fucking hot for a writer. I mean for anyone really. Her stomach is flat, you could do big crimes on it. Her nipples are two different sizes. I mean one is like a nickel, and one is the size of a dinner plate. Babies follow her everywhere.
She has never had sex.
Art is a violation.
Sex is a violation.
Anytime she thinks about it she falls into a hole. Holes are a volition.
Cat Ingrid’s mother spent her life hospitalized with vertigo. Leeches saw her just the one time, right after their bodies were irreparably separated (a hurried c-section, maternal arteries tangled around the baby’s neck). The mother’s hospitable bed was levitating and spinning in circles. The nurses mostly blamed the mother. Some said it was the electricity, that it had a suspicious nature (these nurses argued that electricity was changing the smell of the world, and not for the better: those with sensitive snouts were bound to go extinct). But her mother also had a suspicious nature in their eyes. It was written in the shape of her slightly beautiful, slightly arched eyebrows. So the soulful devourers of the Effluvia Theory were not going to go to bat for her or put their jobs on the line or anything (they still had plenty of misprinted pamphlets to hand out). Cat Ingrid Leeches peered into the room from a window (the kind you see in cruise ships). She was just a newborn― someone had to hold her head up for her, but she doesn’t remember who they were. Her mother waved at the unnecessary creature, hand turning into a strange bird. In no other way was she notable. Even under piles of blankets, Cat Ingrid could see that her mother’s belly wasn’t flat and rejected her. As an adult she still rejects her. She rejects her dead body. She doesn’t know where it is, that’s how much she rejects her.
Cat Ingrid’s holes are all literal. Her mother’s holes just became that way, whether it was mental laziness or sheer force of will, she will never know. Although, she strongly doubts the latter.
Mary Wollstonecraft once wrote that digressions and circadian rhythms are tools of the weak. She tore this piece of paper up and ate it, then eventually shit it out, where it lingered in British sewage constructions for generations, imprinting its wisdom on other pieces of fecal matter, which through negligence and intentions, made its way into our collective human guts. Leeches has taken these words to heart. They’re the ship that sails through her night.
(Imagine who she could be if Mary Wollstonecraft was her mother. Chaucer and Valerie Solanas would be quaking in their boots).
Cat Ingrid’s great grandmother raised her and always looked grimly on when the topic of desire came up.
Leeches told her guardian not to worry, that one day she would have sex. She lifted up her shirt to show her great grandmother how good she was at starving herself, see? She painted whorls of gold and silver around her belly button, as if to say, Hello world, it is only a matter of time. Lick me and it will make the lint boil in your laundry machines. Yours and mine.
Her great grandmother’s pupils shouted with their tinny mouths HILDEGARDE THAT’S NOT WHAT ANY OF THIS FUCKING MEANS.
A man arrived on a motorcycle and he had long grey hair (dyed, Cat Ingrid was pretty sure) and a plastic leather jacket, and she wanted to desire the desire, so she hopped on and squeezed him between her thighs, but she saw only more holes as she rode away from her childhood home. She emitted them from her mouths, and they were endless, and her throat was dry or maybe wet, and her nipples, which then weren’t the size of coins or dinner plates, but soft as eyelids, bloomed into a grotesque extravagance that slurped at his spine.
The road was littered with holes. She made up her mind that if he accused her, she was going to claim that the holes were always there. Nothing had changed except in his mind, which was obviously deteriorating. But riding the bike had become unsafe.
And of course, this caused one of the stranger disasters in Harris County history. The babies jumped from sky scrapers into the holes. She was ejected from the bike. The bike became a hole. She was paid a sizable fund from the city of Houston to de-tongue her breasts, which stopped babies from leaping out of windows into holes. For the most part. They were and are still attracted to the sight or smell of her nipples. It couldn’t be helped. Can’t be. No one ever found where they went, the babies, because the holes remained holes. They were never filled over in case the children wanted to come out again. Their parents said on the news that they knew their children were still alive. They each had remarkable financial luck for the next five years. Some of them even published Cat Ingrid’s short stories, which seems really generous. Really kind. Or maybe she’s just that good.