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The Archangel told me I was chosen, expecting. I thought a little and answered: I couldn’t give my consent. The power balance was such I could not ascertain whether there was an element of coercion involved.

“That sort of thing is really bad news for a relationship,” I told them. “I know better than that now.”

Gabriel didn’t flinch. Angels rarely do. Then I could have it with my husband, they said.

“But I really don’t want a child,” I protested. “I don’t want to be a mother. Not yet.”

“We know that. You shall not bear a child, but a language.”

“A language?”

“Sure. Between Japanese and English.”

“And I am to bear it? For nine and half months? Bloody hell.”

“Language, Chitose.” Gabriel frowned. “Remember, you are the chosen one.”

There was force in their words. I swallowed my objections.

“… OK.  Whatever you say.”

“The last one said something like that, too.”

 

 

“God,” said my husband.

“Indeed,” I agreed.

“That’s not what I mean.”

My husband is talking in his own language. I am not. Maybe because of that, I don’t get him sometimes. I guess I don’t really mind whether I “get him” or not, though. I also have a feeling that he wouldn’t “get” me, even if we shared the same first language. Languages are a little lacking as communication devices so far as I am concerned. In that regard, nothing beats a good fuck.

Still, the language works and we work. Our relationship works. And that’s good enough.

 

 

“So, what’s a pregnancy like when you are with a language—I mean, not a baby?”

“I searched about it on the net.”

“Bet you didn’t get much information.”

I shrugged. We all know that the National Health Service doesn’t cover everything. And yet, the British absolutely adore it, including my husband. Sometimes cross-cultural marriages can be a bit bumpy like that.

“I know there are three trimesters. I know I may have a metallic taste in my mouth by now.”

“You serious?”

“I wonder what it will look like.”

“You mean your language?”

“OUR language,” I corrected him.

I’d heard men could be a little slow in understanding they were to be fathers, but wasn’t this a bit pathetic?

 

 

What happens when the Japanese language fucks an Indo-European language?

It could be like Bonin English, a language once spoken on those beautiful little Tokyo islands.* Or it could be an extreme version of modern Japanese with all those words on loan from English. Daily increasing. Like the national debt.

“Would it have articles or particles?” my husband mused.

“Would it have as many onomatopoeias as Japanese?” I wondered.

“Don’t you know?”

“Would a mother know if the baby in her womb was a boy or a girl?”

For that matter, the language could be non-binary. And I thought, how wonderful.

 

* See Daniel Long, English in the Bonin (Ogasawara) Islands, (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007).

 

 

The morning sickness was heavy. Even with the bananas and crackers the pregnancy books recommended, I found it hard. Quickening was a shock. I really didn’t believe it could happen. It was so physical it made me cry. How could a language do that? The first movements were like little butterflies fluttering in my tummy. That subtle, that soft.

The language grew in me, moving more and more frequently every day. It had an unfortunate tendency to move around at night just as I was trying to settle down to sleep. Often, I would lie awake staring at the curtained window. I couldn’t lie on my back anymore. Listening to the rhythmical breathing of my husband, I quietly wondered what phonetic features our new language might have. I knew I shouldn’t decide on what was desirable in the newborn. Really, that was none of my business. Still, I secretly prayed for one thing:

For God’s sake, not so many vowels as English, please.

 

 

Then I bled.

There must have been signs. There must have. But carrying a language feels so strange; I didn’t even notice something was wrong until it actually happened. And on one cold winter morning, in my tiny kitchen, something splashed from me. Heavy waves of pain gripped my hips.

That dull ache of period pain. Which told me what. I

was About to lose. I reach for the phone and I try to call

out for. Some/Any help/ and i Don’t

know How to describe WHAT on earth is going on with ME and my body and mind and

私の子ども

and yet, it was as clear as the air on a silvery winter morning, that

痛い

that hurts.

 

 

Departing from the constraints of our languages, it was supposed to go somewhere I could not go with my Japanese or my husband’s English. That’s what we hope when we bear babies. Go far. As far as you want. I am here to give you all the love you need in order to fly. And I stood, in my kitchen, holding my stomach with blood pooling on the floor between my feet. All the vowels and consonants were no more. So were the verbs and nouns. I was not sure what those little articles or particles were supposed to look like. And I wasn’t even able to cry. How could one cry over a lost language? Especially when it was not yet born?

 

 

I texted Gabriel: I told them if they were going to push me through this, they should have, at least, made sure a miscarriage wouldn’t happen. But there was no answer. Nothing.

I was chosen; carried a language. And the language was taken away from me.

 

And then, there was something on the floor. A little dark mass sucking the morning light flooding the kitchen. My eyes gravitated towards it. A little black-hole. A word.

 

I picked it up.

 

It was the beginning.



P. Akasaka is a Japanese writer living in the UK and writing in English and Japanese.

She is currently exploring language acquisition, the life of languages, long-distance running, and Tarte Tatin. When she's not writing, she is spending most of her time imagining worst-case scenarios. Twitter: @akasakapatricia Instagram: Patakasaka

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