A windy wet whisper wound around V’s wispy white blonde hairs, erecting them around the back of her delicate neck. She gasped inwardly and shrugged her shoulders towards her ears to counter the cringeworthy sensation. This sudden motion caused a tiny tidal wave of water to gloop over the edge of the bath and splash onto the tiles.
Whhell? Whhhat…are…you…whhhaiting…for? The effervescent empty voice vibrated over V’s bare body, cooling her skin like the top of a hot cup of coffee being blown before sipping.
She shivered and looked around for it’s source. V knew that behind her left shoulder there should be nothing but white wall, yet her strained rectus muscles positioned the lenses of her eyes to capture the suggestion of a smile nestling in the rising steam. Her headache migrained.
The smile began to mouth words: Yesss child…it’sss ok…I can sssee you are suffering, I can feel your pain…I’m trying to take care of you…let me help you…I know that you need me to…and I know that you want to help yourself…just listen to meeeee…take my advice…The air and water rippled in unified resonance.
Holograms and hieroglyphs of figures and figments danced above the water behind V’s back, coaxing her to spin round, left, then right, to get a better view of what the hell was happening in her bath tub; salty suds spewing in all directions.
“Who are you? Where are you? What are you? What’s happening? What is it you want me to do??” She frantically fired her FAQs in the general direction of the steamy dream scene lording it up in her lordosis.
Finally, like a genie from a very wide lipped bottle, the steam streamed upwards and formed the little fat frame of the shaman she had envisaged in yesterday’s nutmeg led reverie. His hue umbered in the glow of V’s 100% natural beeswax candles. At this moment, she surrendered to the steam scenery and lay back in the bath to watch the shamanic shape unfurl, now straight in front of her and as clear as a cunning plan.
Ssseeeee….it’s only meeeee…. The salty, soapy shaman reassured. I know you had a bad day, but I know you also sssaw the sssolution, the golden ticket to Well-ville, the delicioussss, yesss DELICIOUSSS, recipe for perfect health. Specks of soapy spittle flew at V’s face, her eyes squinted and squeezed in defence. It felt like there was a blade in her brain, slicing through her optic nerves.
The shaman’s smooth little belly jiggled as he chuckled, amused by V’s ungraceful reaction to his return. Yet, somehow this smirk subconsciously comforted V and she allowed the warm bath to welcome her back into it’s cradling embrace. Her head pain quietened as her inner ears relaxed to listen.
And why shouldn’t you have some nourishment? Hmmmm? Why is it always the lucky onesss? The wealthy, healthy bastards who don’t appreciate the luxuries they have attained ssimply by being born…they don’t appreciate the life they have been given, do they? They’ll abuse it, they’ll abuse themselves, their bodies, minds, health, they’ll just take it all for granted. They’ll use and abuse the love, life and happiness served up to them on a golden plate, and fed to them with a sssilver sssspoon. Why can’t YOU have a little piece of the perfect pie? Hmmmmm? YOU will cherissshhh it, appreeeeeeciate it, won’t you? I know YOU will.
And you only need a little bit… He grinned like a Cheshire Cat.
V couldn’t help but agree with the shaman’s wisdom, he was a shaman after all. She’d read about them on the back of a packet of maca powder. They were the medicine men in tribal communities where all the best products were coming from these days – quinoa, tiger balm, shark fins and snake oil: all those expensive essentials.
Just a little bit? She asked silently. Her now elongated longing eyes emphasised her desperation which had already stripped her of any shame. She even forgot she was naked and sat up without noticing her tiny tits bob on top of the bath’s lukewarm meniscus.
Just a sup! He replied in equal inaudible volume. A sup for you and a sup for me. His eyes, like conkers, glinted cheekily in the candlelit bubbles and shot a rainbow beam of prismed light straight through V’s hollowed and aching heart space. With that flash she sat up spluttering.
She looked around to see the rippling bathwater had stilled. The calm after the shamanic storm. She rubbed her eyes and ears in disbelief. It must have been real…she could still feel it. Her skin was still goose-pimpling, although admittedly the bathwater was now stone cold. She’d lost time again, how long? Who cares, she thought. The shaman had spoken, and he was the only one who had ever given her any attention. His secret smile was now impressed in her consciousness and seemed to provide her with comfort whenever she visualised him in her mind’s eye. The secret they shared gave her hope and purpose. Why shouldn’t she take back the hope that was ripped from her life by her neglecting parents? Why shouldn’t SHE have a life worth living?!
She wasn’t afraid anymore, she was determined. She finally had support, a friend, a father. But first things first. She jumped out of the bath and onto the internet.
As she threw open her Mac laptop, entered her password and honed in on the home screen, her eyes glanced at the digital clock in the top right hand corner: 6pm? That can’t be right? She can’t have been in the bath for over 7 hours?! But she didn’t consider this conundrum for too long. She was on a mission and it began where it always began. Google.
After typing in phrases like “unborn baby blood” with words like “drinking”, V eventually came across the practice of “placentophagy” – the eating of the placenta after child birth. She found that “99% of animals eat the placenta after birth to get more nutrition, increased mood and better energy levels”. Sounds perfect, she thought. She needed all of that. She also found that many Asian cultures are in the habit of this practice, claiming that it “can help the mother and baby to bond”, and “aid relief from post-natal depression”.
Of course, that was of no use to her, but apparently the reason for the improved mother-child connection is that the nutrients in the placenta can elevate levels of “oxytocin”; she’d heard of this hormone before. It was said to be the endogenous love and hug drug that increases lactation, but is now believed to be released simply when humans hug. She always felt she had been starved of this at birth and ever since. Well she wanted, and deserved, some of that.
And then she found the kicker. The stamp to seal the deal. Celebrities, January Jones and the Kardashians were now endorsers of the practice. She knew she’d heard of it somewhere before! And if these women were doing it, these magnificent alien bitches from planets only accessible through satellites and magazines, then she must do it to become just like them: images of absolute success and perfection.
However, this was all post-natal. Her shaman was telling her to go pre. Fresh stem cells In Utero. It sounded like a posh nouveau way of dining, like Al Fresco, she amused herself with the idea. Her empty belly licked her lips. The fresher the better. She couldn’t argue with her personal little guru-nut.
She liked the sound of all those fresh juicy stem cells. Her mouth watered, bearing in mind she hadn’t eaten since yesterday breakfast, which of course didn’t really go down that well. Nothing else she could think of would sate her now either. Not when there was foetus to fry!
Despite being momentously encouraged by her Internet research, she was at a loss as to where to begin her cesarian culinary expedition. And we ain’t talking salads. She needed inspiration. And there was only so much she could do with internet research. Even youtube was disappointing in terms of baby-blood-food-porn.
She tore herself away from the laptop table and for the first time in 48 hours felt she could function calmly. She got herself ready, each part of her routine now followed to a T. She even made a cup of trim-tum tea and sipped it through pursed lips as her oat milk and apple cider vinegar face mask solidified on her gaunt face.
She stared in the mirror as she patiently wiped the white hot GHDs over her, now essentially crunchy, white wisps; not really noticing as the broken strands sprayed up around her head like a peliferous golden aura. Now, her gaze just glazed over her imperfections and picked at pock marks as though she could see her transcendent transformation already occurring. One sup and all blemishes would be banished. She glowed with anticipation. Her glassy grey eyes moistened with delight.
She carefully dressed herself in her favourite garms: wet look leggings which made her legs look like the inner tubes of biros and a white T saying “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful”. She smirked to herself at her own choice of clobber. It seemed so apt, for once. She finished her tea, went for a wee, picked up her door key, and prepared for a spree.
Outside the Autumn wind was still blowing, but her bare goose-pimpled arms didn’t bother V today, even though she usually suffered so terribly from the cold. This time the goose-pimples reminded her of the shaman speaking to her, helping her, soothing her. They were the warmest cuddle she had ever felt.
She drifted towards the doctor’s surgery, half consciously tracing the steps back to the source of her initial excitement. 7pm. The surgery was now closed. Access denied. Or was it? Her mind sought through scattered thoughts for a contingency strategy. It wasn’t hard. Her eyes flicked onto the digital door code. She had been here so many times and often been the first in the queue as Doreen, or one of the other desk jockeys, had opened up at 8:00am sharp (not a minute earlier mind). Because of her regular visits she realised she had memorised the door code that had been lazily tapped in by fingers still heavy with last night’s Lambrusco. At this hour of a morning, V was always as alert as a five-eyed fly.
So she tapped it in. Muscle memory bypassing moral code. 1969 – was it supposed to be funny? The connotations made V feel nauseous. The door buzzed softly and in she went. No alarm. Nothing. She stepped inside with caution and was instantly engulfed by the darkness and an overwhelming smell of stagnant sorrow. Her visual and olfactory sensations were emphasised by the vast emptiness of the normally stuffy space.
Is this what ghosts smell like? V wondered as she inhaled the leftover traces of illness and worry. Maybe not ghosts. Maybe just the holes people tread into the world with their heavy footed problems; impressions of infirm left in stillness. Despite the heavy atmosphere, V’s hyper mind pinched her attention back to the task in hand. She headed for the computer on the desk and got behind it. Instantly it felt like a space she shouldn’t be in. She loved it. It was the space that stood in her way every week. A hollow obstacle. A solid gap. It was the sacred space in a chalk circle of bureaucracy that shut her out with a Kafka-esque exclusivity.
With a sigh of satisfaction, she sat down in the “driver’s seat”. Not before spreading out a plastic disposable apron, of course. She wasn’t stupid. She had seen the detective programmes. DNA gets everywhere. She grabbed a pair of sterile gloves from a box on the desk and expertly slipped them on. She turned on the monitor and after a few minutes of tensely watching the bastard cursor spin like a methodical maniac, she was into the database.
Shit. Password protected. She looked down and saw a handwritten post-it taped to the screen saying “Password for database: Fleetwood Mac”. She would have guessed it anyway considering their bloody broken record background music choices. That or Enya.
She scrolled down the list of patients to “G” – Jennifer Gintub.
The Grove, Hambleton Cottages, Hyswith, HY328N. Hahaha! So far, so good, and way too easy.