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Beatriz Nogueira is fifteen years old when her life ends.

It goes like this: Pedro is heavier than she thought he’d be. That’s what occurs to her in the darkness of his bedroom, her back pressed against his bed, her bare feet touching the comforter he pushed down when he laid her there. It’s too hot for covers, the old ceiling fan barely putting up a fight against the summer air. They’re in the room Pedro is staying in for the holiday, at his parents’ house, two streets away from Beatriz. Pedro goes to a federal university and he has little reason to come back to the interior, only returning once per year. He told Beatriz this at a barbecue in her cousin’s backyard, his brown eyes looking deep into her and making her giggle at things that weren’t really funny. He offered to walk her home and slid his hand over her waist, and she ended up saying she’d love to see his place.

There’s nothing special about the room. The walls are a pale yellow that’s starting to peel, and the room has an old desk, a laptop, a big Flamengo flag on one of the walls, and the bed Beatriz is on. The mattress is meant for one person and her clothes fell on the floor when Pedro moved to reach for a condom. She should be worried about that, maybe, but instead she runs her hands over his chest and her fingers are buried in hair and she always thought this would feel strange, but it doesn’t, it feels nice.

Pedro holds her hips and asks if everything is fine. Beatriz’s heart is pounding. She’s scared it’s going to hurt—Carina said it did—but she also likes Pedro’s weight over her, and even if it hurts, she wants to know. All her friends know and she’s tired of being the odd one out.

He says they can stop if she wants to, but Beatriz shakes her head.

It hurts a little, but not as much as she thought. The ceiling fan twirls above her head as he sinks into her, establishing a rhythm. She likes the sounds he makes, grunts and gasps she’s never heard before. Pedro whispers she’s beautiful, and she clings to him as if she could drive those words inside her, too.

He keeps going until it stops hurting, and it feels kind of good. At the end, he rolls to the side and caresses her hair. She didn’t come, but they both think she did.

Overall, the whole thing is over much faster than she expected. She doesn’t feel much different, but she feels good.

 


 

Pedro only stays in town for two more days, and he spends most of the time with her. Her cousin, Carlos, makes jokes about the two of them. Pedro laughs, but Beatriz begs him not to tell her mom. Carlos rolls his eyes and says he won’t, but that Beatriz is dumb if she thinks she doesn’t already know.

Sure enough, when Pedro leaves and Beatriz’s face is buried in her pillow, her body shaking against the bed with every sob, her mom pats her shoulder and doesn’t ask for any explanation. Beatriz thinks of asking her how she found out, but she has long learned to not try understanding how her mom knows things. Instead she just assumes her mom knows, and cries on her pillow and her mom’s lap.

Her mom is kind, but annoyingly dismissive. Beatriz says she feels like she’s going to die, and all her mother says is that this will be the first of many times a boy will make her feel that way. When Beatriz gets mad, her mom says that this is a good thing, that Beatriz is young and her life is just beginning.

Her mom is often right about most things, but not this one.

 


 

The first month Beatriz’s period doesn’t arrive, she figures it might be nothing. Her cycle is pretty irregular anyways. The second month, though, it makes worry creep up. She has three nightmares for three consecutive nights until she decides to find out.

The plus sign stares at her in the bathroom until she thinks it sinks into her skin, leaving marks on her belly. For the next week she lies in bed and traces a vertical and horizontal line on her torso. Each line burns. There is a ticking clock in her head now, between her ears, and yet time itself seems to begin to slip away, morphing into a division between the few moments she forgets and the constant periods where it’s all she can think about.

Sleeping becomes a rare treat. At the same time, it’s all she wants to do, craving the seconds in the morning when she hasn’t fully woken up and can pretend there’s nothing going on. As a child, it took her a while to start sleeping alone in her bedroom, because she was scared of being alone in the dark. Now, when she turns the lights off, the scariest thought is that she isn’t alone at all, that there is something else with her, under the covers, too close for her to run away from.

She tells her mother because she needs to tell someone, anyone. Her mom looks at her, curses, and asks so many questions Beatriz starts crying. This halts the hurricane of her mom’s reaction, and she holds Beatriz and apologizes, humming softly until she calms down.

She asks what Beatriz wants. The answer is at the tip of her tongue, but it tastes bitter—she wants this to not be happening, or to be happening to someone else. Even her mom can’t grant that wish, so the second answer climbs her throat and jumps; the only moment, since the test, when Beatriz feels the slightest bit lighter.

 


 

Everything afterwards is kind of a blur. Between all her mom says to her, the only thing Beatriz manages to absorb is that it’s a four-hour-long car trip to the nearest hospital. They ride in the back of Mrs. Flores’s son’s car. He told them his name, but Beatriz already forgot. She feels as though she can watch everything from the outside—her and her mom crammed together in the backseat, her mom clutching her hand as if she might run away any second, bile forming in her throat even though she thinks it might be too early to get sick.

Her mom told Mrs. Flores she got raped. This is also what she will tell people in the hospital. Beatriz feels bad, tried to argue that it wasn’t true, but it’s the only way they can do this. It’s either that, her mom explained, or they have to prove having the baby would kill her. The second option feels true, but Beatriz can’t think of a way to explain it that would make the doctors understand.

Beatriz doesn’t cry on the car ride. She doesn’t say a word. There is a mosquito roaming around the backseat, and she thinks it must know how she feels, looking in from the outside without understanding a thing. When it bites her, Beatriz can’t bring herself to care. The car, the pregnancy, the mosquito bite—it all feels as if it is happening to someone else.

 


 

The hospital is a different world, centuries away from the ceiling fan and the posters in Pedro’s bedroom. The walls are as white as the doctors. There is a constant smell of antiseptic in the air that threatens to make Beatriz sick.

Her mom does most of the talking for her. Beatriz stays silent, and wonders if her face looks like someone who’s been raped. She is taken inside and examined by a woman who is both gentle and quiet. Beatriz is thankful the woman doesn’t talk much. The last time she took her clothes off in front of someone, it was in Pedro’s bedroom. The two feel so far apart it’s like remembering a whole other life.

The woman writes a bunch of things in a bunch of papers, and says stuff at the end of the exam, but Beatriz doesn’t really hear it. After that, she’s told to wait.

So she waits.

There is no clock in the room, so Beatriz can’t tell how long it takes. Time has been foreign for her for the past few months. She is supposed to go back to school in three (is it three?) weeks. She was going to ask her aunt to give her a haircut, before starting tenth grade, but now she thinks it will be too late.

A man calls her after a few hours, or a few years. He smiles at her and asks her to follow him through a series of bright hallways, benches filled with people waiting. Beatriz walks among them in her white hospital gown and feels like a foreign creature.

The man stops in front of a door and holds it open for her to walk inside. It’s a small room with two beds, both empty.

Beatriz asks where her mom is.

The man keeps smiling and he says she will be there in the morning.

Beatriz panics. She says her mom is allowed to be there while she goes through the operation (she’s not sure, but her mom said she was and her mom knows everything).

The man calms her down, tells her that it’s true, but they’re not doing the procedure today. He says they want to keep her in observation, first.

Beatriz does not know what that means. Will watching her let them know if she’s been raped? How long will that last? Where is her mom?

The man keeps telling her it’s only for a while. This answers none of her questions, neither the ones she asks aloud nor the ones yelling inside her. She lets him guide her to the bed, and immediately starts watching herself, like she’s floating in the corner of the room, wondering, vaguely, what will happen to this girl next.

 


 

In the morning, a nurse brings her breakfast. It’s on a nice tray, gray with tiny blue flowers painted in each corner. Atop the corner-left flower is a glass of orange juice, which is the only part of breakfast Beatriz can bring herself to swallow.

Beatriz asks about her mom, and the procedure (she calls it like the man did, wondering if this might help). The nurse says she needs to be patient.

She asks Beatriz how old she is. Beatriz doesn’t want to make small talk, but she feels like she has no choice.

The nurse introduces herself at some point, but Beatriz finds it hard to focus on her words, so she doesn’t hear her name. She tells Beatriz all about how she became a nurse, which school she went to, how she met her husband. She talks about her mother and how she died six months ago. Beatriz says she’s very sorry.

The nurse says she has two children. One is a five-year-old girl, and the other one is a baby boy.

She asks if Beatriz wants to see pictures.

Beatriz nods, because she doesn’t know what else to do.

On the nurse’s phone, a series of images are shown, each one following the move of her thumb. Her daughter is small and pudgy, often smiling brightly at the camera. The baby is a white blob in the distance until the nurse zooms in to make him look bigger, and suddenly he looks gigantic, his face taking up the entire screen. Beatriz’s fingers clutch the bedsheets as the nurse tells her all about the trouble she went through during her first pregnancy, and how scared she was when she found out about the second one, but she feels so happy now because she couldn’t imagine her life without—the baby must have a name, Beatriz supposes, but she doesn’t hear it, because again it feels like she is floating, through the ceiling, away from the hospital, too far to hear a word of what the nurse is saying.

A touch on her hand pulls her back to earth, like the fall of an elevator. After pulling her back into the room, into the bed, into her body, the nurse smiles and tells her maybe this whole thing will be a blessing in disguise.

 


 

Her mother makes it inside after a few hours. Beatriz has spent most of the past morning floating, trying to go further than she did before the nurse brought her back. She has started to feel that each time she does, it becomes a little easier, a little more natural. All of that is gone when her mother hugs her, though. The shock of the contact of her embrace, and the exhaustion from the past day, all come crashing down at once, and Beatriz weeps.

To her surprise, her mother doesn’t know much more than she does. She has no idea why they haven’t performed the abortion already. It’s supposed to be fast, she says. She also says she’s waiting to speak to the doctor, who is supposed to come by soon.

They wait. Beatriz tells her she’s been coming out of her body. Her mother tells her to use it in moderation. They need to stay focused, she says. Beatriz tells her about the nurse, about how nice she was. Her mother doesn’t seem to agree.

When the doctor comes, he’s not alone, but accompanied by a different nurse, who pushes behind him a machine. He introduces himself and this time Beatriz pays attention—his name is Alberto, he’s thankful for their patience, he thinks they still need to do some exams. Beatriz’s mom questions this, but Dr. Alberto says that, in these cases, they need to proceed with caution.

Beatriz wants to know what that means. Dr. Alberto smiles at her in the same kind manner the nurse did, and tells her, with a voice of wonderful news, that her life isn’t threatened by the pregnancy; that, despite the unfortunate circumstances, she could give birth to a beautiful, healthy baby. If she wants to, he adds, after a moment.

The machine makes a noise after the nurse finishes placing it by the bed, and it startles Beatriz. Dr. Alberto touches her shoulder and tells her not to worry, this isn’t gonna hurt at all.

He’s right—it doesn’t. All Beatriz has to do is raise her hospital gown, let the nurse apply a cold cream on her belly, and watch as the doctor lightly presses a device on it, sliding around her belly button. She’s reminded of a grocery store’s scanner, just much slower. Instead of the price of Beatriz’s body, though, the screen shows a dark image with a small, lighter circle in a corner.

Dr. Alberto’s finger touches the circle, patting it lightly. This is your baby, he says. It’s like he’s poking the actual thing, inside Beatriz, a weak pressure on a ball of meat. She feels a little sick. She glances at her mother but she is also silent, her face on the dark image, as if hypnotized by it.

Dr. Alberto, with a playful voice, says it’s early to tell, but he has a feeling it might be a girl. Beatriz wants to dispute that—she’s seen girls before, and they don’t look like the shape on the screen. But the less she talks, the sooner it will be over.

 


 

She has to spend another night in the hospital, they tell her, which sends her mom into a frenzy as she tries to figure out how she will be able to spend another evening in the city. She has to call Carlos who has to call a friend of a friend to find someone who can let her sleep on a couch. She kisses Beatriz’s forehead before leaving.

In the dark hospital room, Beatriz thinks of the ultrasound. She wishes she hadn’t seen it—now there is undeniable proof of something growing inside her, and she feels uncomfortable, heavier. She’s starting to wonder how much longer she will have to stay, and how many more weird photos she will have to see.

Her mother told her to not float all the time, but it’s a huge temptation. She wants to see her body from the outside, like a suggestion, an image on a screen, instead of a reality. She wants to see herself like everyone else in that hospital sees her. If she could just float away and never come back, Beatriz thinks, they could keep her body in the bed as long as they want to, make it have all the babies in the world.

 


 

In the morning, Beatriz hears her mother yelling before she bursts into the room. She’s not alone—there is a woman with her Beatriz doesn’t recognise.

She’s Carlos’s friend, she explains. Her name is Gabriela, and her mother says she’s a lawyer. Gabriela clarifies that this isn’t true, but she’s in her second year of law school, and she can tell for sure that the hospital can’t keep Beatriz in any longer. It’s not legal, what they’re doing, and there is no reason to keep postponing the abortion like that.

Her words make sense, but they also sound foreign, cutting through the air in the white room, the image in the ultrasound, the nurse’s giant baby in the phone screen. Beatriz feels bile in her throat. It’s like looking at the plus sign in a pee-stained piece of plastic—a confirmation of something that all signs pointed to as true, but that she didn’t want to be.

Against her mother’s will, Beatriz floats away and watches from the corner of the ceiling as the three of them demand answers from Dr. Alberto, prod him until he admits he doesn’t think going through with “the procedure” is a good idea. Saying it aloud seems to strengthen his resolve, and he stares at the eyes of Beatriz’s body as he declares she is young, healthy, and perfectly capable of bearing a child; he’s sorry for what happened to her, terribly, tremendously sorry, but that doesn’t give her the right to kill an innocent kid.

Cross-legged in the opposite corner of the ceiling, staring at the back of his head, Beatriz takes a moment to understand what he means. She thinks if she had a kid inside of her, she’d know—it’d be loud and boisterous, like the little girl in the nurse’s pictures; or cry and whine like a wrinkly blob of a baby. What she has inside her feels like something else, like a tiny swirling wind, a newly formed cloud—a promise, an idea, a threat. It’s not alive enough to be killed. 

 


 

According to Gabriela, the hospital’s resistance warrants legal action. Beatriz asks her if this is necessary, because all she knows about legal actions is that they take a while, and every day that passes is one they cannot afford to miss. Gabriela says it seems like this is the only way.

When she and her mother are alone, Beatriz asks if they know she’s lying about the rape. Her mother says they definitely don’t, because if they did, they’d just send her home. They’re dancing around the abortion because they know they’re wrong, her mother says.

They stay in silence for a moment. Then Beatriz asks a question that’s been fostering in her head all day: why it matters if she was raped or not.

Her mother goes quiet for a moment, not like she’s wondering, but like she’s thinking on how to say it. Because, she says. If you were raped, it means you didn’t want to do it.

But the baby wouldn’t be any different for it, Beatriz says. Like Dr. Alberto said, it’d still be an innocent kid.

It’s not about any baby, her mother says, exasperated. It’s about you. It’s about whether they feel bad for you.

Beatriz goes silent.

Her mother continues: Most of the time, they don’t. So you gotta give them a reason to, even if it’s a lie.

Beatriz wants to cry. She wants to float away, and she guesses her mother can tell, because Beatriz feels her mother reaching for her hand, holding it gently and interlacing their fingers.

Swallow the cry, she says. They’re not worth it.

Beatriz does. The cry goes down her throat, to her stomach, and it melts inside her skin, amongst her blood.

 


 

Their first audience is scheduled for next week. They go home and then return to the city, four hours out and four hours back again. Beatriz gets paranoid, certain her belly grows more each day, even though her mother reminds her it’s too soon. She comes to the audience wearing clothes she’d wear for church, which turns out to be appropriate, because in the judge’s office there is a figure of Jesus on the back wall, staring at anyone who enters.

Beatriz is accompanied by a lawyer Gabriela suggested, who works free of charge, and her mom, whose posture betrays her anger, her hands clutching each other in front of her like she longs to do the same to someone’s neck. Beatriz herself is not angry—ever since the swallowed tears in the hospital, she alternates between distant melancholy and cold cynicism, like this whole thing is a sad story she’s already heard a hundred times before.

Floating helps—she does it more and more every day, regardless of what her mom warns. She’s started to wonder how long she can go away from the body at the center of every conversation she’s had the past two weeks. She’s started to wonder about many things.

The judge’s heels make a strong clack against the wooden floor when she welcomes them inside. She smiles when Beatriz looks at her.

Most of the conversation happens between the judge and the lawyer. Beatriz is certain what they’re saying isn’t noise, but relevant arguments that will permanently affect her future. However, she still can’t bring herself to listen. Instead, she sits there with her head down, determined to speak only if she’s spoken to.

This happens once. It is right after the lawyer finishes a long argument that makes her a little winded, and the judge, in lieu of responding, says that maybe they should ask Beatriz what she thinks, directly. She says it like it’s a novel idea, like it didn’t occur to anyone before.

She looks at Beatriz and asks how she is feeling. There are a million answers to choose from, so Beatriz takes a moment to think before responding. She settles on “tired.”

The judge nods. Beatriz wonders if she’s going to ask about the rape, but she doesn’t. Instead her eyes lower to the belly Beatriz was trying to convince herself she didn’t have, and she smiles.

She asks if Beatriz has thought of a name yet.

The question causes a bit of a ruckus. Beatriz’s lawyer steps in, and her mom is stuttering like she does when she can’t even figure out how to begin to cuss someone out. The judge waves a hand for them to calm down. It’s just a question, she says.

Beatriz tells her she hasn’t thought of any names.

The judge nods again, but there is a small frown between her eyebrows as she does so, and suddenly Beatriz knows this is useless. They seem to buy her lie entirely, but it doesn’t make any difference—maybe they think even if Beatriz was raped, she wasn’t raped enough. She realizes this will be the first of many audiences that take weeks to be scheduled, and there are only six months left on the clock, fewer if she’s thinking of when it would be safe to perform the abortion. Even if they don’t outright refuse her, they will stall until there’s just no way of doing it anymore.

Beatriz’s life is over.

The realization, which she now recognises had been looming over her head ever since the first day at the hospital, isn’t as despair-inducing as it sounds. Part of her wants to cry, but she doesn’t. Instead, she leaves. Her body stays there, between her mother and her lawyer, doomed. It’s not hers anymore. It was taken by an outside force, more important and valuable. Looking at it, Beatriz’s tears cool inside of her, climbing up to her throat in a frostbite of anger.

From outside, she makes her body speak, with a voice similar enough to her own. She hears it say: “If me being pregnant is best for everyone, then I’ll stay pregnant.”

She wishes it had not come to this. Her spectral skin itches—she knows what will happen, what will continue to happen, until the very end.

She floats behind the judge’s desk, looking ahead. The Jesus figurine is right next to her, and she wonders if it can see what she sees.

 


 

Dr. Alberto is the first one.

It’s by chance more than anything else. Beatriz is four months pregnant, and she schedules an exam that happens to be with him again. He gives her a large smile as she comes inside. He tells her she’s doing the right thing.

Beatriz knows that.

She lies in the hospital room bed, her mother by her side. She’s wearing a hospital gown, and, as Dr. Alberto approaches, she closes her eyes and enjoys the light, strange fabric against her skin.

Dr. Alberto’s hand lands on her belly. The circumference is now pronounced and he hums approvingly. He says it will be a big girl when it comes out.

When he tries to remove his hand, it happens.

Beatriz keeps her eyes closed, so all she can do is listen. Dr. Alberto pulls, first once and then twice and three times with increasing strength, but his palm’s skin has already been pulled inside, drowning in pulpous tissue. Beatriz feels when his other hand comes to help, pushing right beside the first one, but by then her skin is already swallowing his fingers. He’s screaming now, fear overcoming his silent shock, but Beatriz has gotten to his elbows. She feels spit coming from his mouth as he tries to plead for help. The little drops annoy her enough to speed up the entire process, and soon his face is against her belly, the tip of his nose being swallowed as his nostrils widen desperately in a faint attempt to get some air. His mouth is taken immediately afterwards, which lessens the noise, returning to the room some of the peace from before. There are still some distant thumps—his legs kicking as she swallows him up to the waist, Beatriz imagines—but they don’t last. It takes just one more pull for them to vanish, his flesh dissolving as she absorbs him, slowly, until Beatriz’s belly is a little bigger and Dr. Alberto is no more. She stretches her arms above her head and feels pleasantly full.

 


 

The nurse makes small talk as she sets up the ultrasound equipment. It’s so strange, she says, that Dr. Alberto disappeared. She imagines he will be back soon, though, and apologizes for the inconvenience.

Beatriz and her mother accept her apology.

This time, Beatriz does not close her eyes. Instead, she floats out of her body and sits criss-cross applesauce, right above the nurse’s head. This means Beatriz doesn’t feel when the nurse touches her belly, or when her body devours the nurse whole, but she gets to watch the whole process, which is fascinating. She also catches a glimpse of her mother’s face—she stares at the nurse silently as the woman pleads for help, not sad but not happy, either.

When it is all done, Beatriz returns. Her belly is bigger than before, stretched beyond what would be reasonable for four months, a hill taking over her sight when she lowers her chin. With some effort, she turns towards her mother. It takes a moment for their eyes to meet, but when they do, all Beatriz sees is reassurance.

 


 

Beatriz’s body stays in the hospital. Some workers are confused by Dr. Alberto's and the nurse’s absences, but the shock wears off. No one calls the police, and there are no funerals. It’s like they never existed. Beatriz finds it logical: they’re now part of a body that doesn’t matter, and so they cease to matter, as well. 

The hospital sends in replacements. Beatriz meets Dr. Lúcia, Dr. Caio, Dr. Mônica, and Dr. José. She absorbs them all, one by one, the second they touch her ever-expanding belly. They turn into masses of cells not unlike the one that was originally inside of her, so she supposes whether she killed them or not is a matter of perspective. Either way, her skin stretches to accommodate their bodies, her torso growing accordingly to support the belly that now looks like it holds quintuplets. It doesn’t hurt, Beatriz finds. Mostly, it’s a nice feeling, like raising your arms above your head and stretching after a long, full day.

Sometimes Beatriz watches from the outside, and sometimes she doesn’t. There are times when it happens and she’s not even in the hospital, having floated back home with her mother, spending time with her as if there is nothing left in that white room with the white walls. She has to return eventually, of course, but mostly she comes back to sleep.

After a while, she makes a nice discovery: the larger her body grows, the further she can float away. And her body keeps growing, because to make sure the baby is born, there are always new doctors and nurses showing up and making small talk before she devours them. All the people outside see is that her body is growing in unprecedented ways, so they need to resort to special care, or something might happen to her or—God forbid—the baby.

The hospital’s dining hall is turned into a bedroom especially for her, before she becomes too big to fit through the doors. They send the other patients home, or to other hospitals, because all care must be focused on this young, brave mother. Everyone Beatriz meets says they’re very proud of her.

Eventually her growth becomes news. A photo of her, taking most of the space in the dining hall, is on the cover of a respectable number of news magazines. Her mother shows it to her spectral version, when they’re visiting Gabriela for lunch (Beatriz can’t eat, but if she tries hard she finds she can smell the scents of the food, and that’s better than nothing). Some people say it’s absurd that the hospital is using all of its resources to deal with a single pregnancy, but they’re the minority. The hospital’s official statement is that it will do whatever it can to safely deliver the innocent child taking over every inch of its property.

 


 

The judge comes to visit her. By this point, it’s been almost a month, and the hospital had to merge the three floors of its parking lot to accommodate Beatriz’s body. These days, she spends most of her time floating (she can get so high up in the sky, now, that she makes the hospital a tiny dot beneath her, almost nonexistent), but she comes back to talk to the judge.

Most of the conversation is the usual—she asks how Beatriz is doing, Beatriz tells her the truth, and the judge makes a face like she thinks Beatriz is lying, but that she’s so brave to do so. She then pauses, looks at the belly stretching almost to the ceiling, and tells Beatriz she has thought a lot about her, in the past few weeks. She says Beatriz is a role model, different from any case she has ever judged before. She looks at Beatriz’s body, distorted and immense, her intimate parts barely covered with tarps originally meant for football fields, and tells her she’s doing what God wants.

The judge asks, again, if she has thought of a name.

Beatriz goes silent. She doesn’t know how to tell her that as long as there is room on Earth for her body to grow, there will never be something to name. She thinks of reminding the judge she promised she’d stay pregnant, not that she’d give birth. She thinks of explaining to her that, since her body belongs to everyone else, it makes sense that everyone else belongs to it, too. Everyone, everything.

She tells the judge she hasn’t yet thought of a name.

The judge smiles and says she needs to start considering options soon, because the next couple months will go by fast. Beatriz wonders how long it will take until her legs stretch over the city, until her head hits the sea and her spirit can twirl around the moon. She guesses more than nine months, but everyone else will just think the baby is post-term.

The judge reaches forward to touch her belly.

 


 

When her body outgrows the hospital, they move her to a storage unit. When she outgrows the storage unit, they try to move her to a bigger one, but there aren’t any, so they leave her in an open field. Beatriz does not mind—she’s rarely in her body these days, and she can already float above the clouds.

Now, people get absorbed by accident, bumping into her belly, as much parts of her as her uterus. And the same goes for the ground beneath her, and the sky above. Her body belongs to the world and it expands accordingly. It will never stop growing, and it will eventually become so big Beatriz will look down and the Earth will be just a tiny speck in the distance, even smaller than the hospital. Or maybe she will float sideways and all she will see is the vague shape of her belly, taking over the stars. Either way, everyone will be gone, all turned into innocent bundles inside her, that she will never birth and never name. She won’t have to. When it’s all her, it will all be hers.


Editor: Vanessa Aguirre

First Reader: Jean McConnell

Copy Editors: Copy Editing Department

Accessibility: Accessibility Editors



Fernanda Coutinho Teixeira is a fiction writer with a penchant for the fantastical, the scary, and the weird. Born in Rio de Janeiro, she is a second-year graduate student in the Creative Writing MFA at University of Central Florida. Her work has been published in Strange Horizons, The Deadlands and The Ex-Puritan. You can find her at http://fernandacoutinhoteixeira.com/ and on instagram, @fercoutinhotex.
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