The Quickening by Abi Hennig

The girls appear as angels, back-lit by the evening sun. She sits on her hands; bark tattoos her palms.

She remembers rocking arms: a fleeting moment where her language and the international language of gesture intertwined; remembers needles sunk into soft flesh, her skin a pock-marked pin cushion; bloodied eviscerations; platitudes scattered like confetti.

She sits on her hands; gazes at their faces, steeped in dappled shadow: angular, strange. Later, she will lie before them, buried in foliage, skin tickled by soft fronds. Later, she will wake in her own bed, temperature soaring, skin oiled, salt-gritty.

Much later, tummy-tapping out a lullaby, she will feel a quickening beneath her fingers.

Years later she will stand at this exact spot in the forest, in each hand a girl: one fair, one dark, just like these girls. She will call to them and they will not come.