Chew, Swallow, Chew by Ai Jiang

They attached a zipper to my stomach, not to my womb. They said this would help the process run smoother, faster, if the babies could consume nourishment passed broken only by mouth and saliva. I watched as they inserted the baby, a worm, which would later metaphorize into one of them. Within me, I felt tiny legs and arms sprout from its malleable body, stole what I chewed. When it left me, I was a skeleton, and it a plump, pulsing, purple entity with a thousand arms. It unravelled its millions of folds before unzipping me, next child in hand. They told me I should be honoured, that my role was a glorious, glorious thing. Be thankful it was you, they’d said. And the choice, what choice? but the single one presented to me?

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Ai Jiang is a Chinese-Canadian writer and an immigrant from Fujian. She is a member of HWA, SFWA, and Codex. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in F&SF, The Dark, Uncanny, The Puritan, Prairie Fire, The Masters Review, and her debut novella Linghun (April 2023) is forthcoming with Dark Matter INK. Find her on Twitter (@AiJiang_) and online (http://aijiang.ca).