Fiction by Sarah Rose Etter
EXCERPT // ‘The Book of X’
“I dig through my mother’s old magazines in the attic. I flip through the old trends, admire the smooth women.
Tips are written in bold fonts:
YELLOW IS THE COLOR OF THE SEASON
EAT LESS NOW WITH THE ROCK DIET
NEW NAILS, NEW TEETH, NEW LIFE
In the stack, I find an old science magazine. My eyes stutter over the cover.
My mother is younger, holding me in her arms. The title says THIRD GIRL BORN KNOTTED.
Inside, there are pictures of my small body slick with blood and then clean, swaddled in white cloth. My knot is at the center of each photo.
Third Girl Born Knotted; Doctors Halt Research
A third infant has been born knotted to a family in the South. This rare genetic abnormality has flummoxed the medical community,
The first woman, Eleanor X, was born a knot in 1947. She gave birth to two sons (unknotted), and a daughter who carried the knot. Her births were now compromised by the knot. In fact, in all three women, the womb is located at the base of the deformity, providing a clear path for birthing.
Her daughter, Deborah X, also delivered one daughter and one son. The daughter, Cassandra X, was born a knot. The son, again, was born unknotted.
This very rare gene resides in the X chromosome. Doctors have determined the knots are largely a cosmetic issue, potentially rendering the women outsiders in society. The impact is largely emotional, rather than physical. Doctors have decided to halt their inquiry into its cause after years of inconclusive research.
I don’t hear the footsteps of my mother.
‘You should be cleaning. What are you doing?’
‘Just looking at your old magazines.’
But she catches a glimpse. Today, she is vicious. Her brown eyes flash then froth, rabid. She slaps the journal to the ground. Then her palm stings across my cheek in a quick flash of red.”
For full text and images, consider reading RQ in print, on a Sunday afternoon, sun streaming through your window, coffee in hand, and nary a phone alert within sight or in earshot… just fine words, fine design, and the opportunity to make a stitch in time //. Print is dead. Long live print. //