Yesterday I submitted the manuscript of my first dissertation chapter to a prestigious journal. Today I will spend the day trying to revise the Manuscript that Wouldn't Die for re-resubmission. Someone, somewhere is gonna publish that damn paper. Mark my words.
But, darlings, I have more story for you.
The Stone Woman, pt. 3
By Lab Rockstar
Gail lifted her shirt and looked at her stomach. Whitish plates encrusted her torso, dappled with gray patches and translucent patches and white cracks where the flesh, or what was once flesh, looked like it could cleave away cleanly from the rest of her. This is impossible, she thought, running her fingers over the cold, textured surface. And yet, it was obviously mineral, with sections varying in patchwork shades from blue-gray to yellowish-white to green-gray and chalk-white. To Gail’s eye, the stone even shimmered subtly. She rubbed her hands over it in wonder.
After inspecting herself thoroughly, she went to her legal pad and wrote:
I think the stone has been there for some time, I just hadn’t seen it, or not as much of it had come to the surface. I feel calmer now that I know it’s there. If I still had Michael, I would worry about my brain, but somehow now it seems a most natural metamorphosis.
Michael certainly would not have liked the stone, Gail thought. He had been an electrician and didn’t know much about biology, but he did worry about her health and certainly would have insisted that her transformation was impossible. But Gail reasoned that it was clearly not impossible if it was happening there on her body.
Suddenly, there was a knock at her door, and Gail quickly pulled her shirt down over her new belly.
“It’s just me,” Mrs. Scofield chirped through the door. “Are you doing alright in there? Do you need anything?”
Gail opened the door. She wondered, momentarily, if Mrs. Scofield would notice there was anything different about her, but the old woman’s cheerful smile did not change.
“How are you, dear?” the old woman asked. She was shorter than Gail, rounded in the belly and hips, with creased skin on her forehead and around her mouth. Her hair was gray and pulled back in a barrette.
“I’m fine, thank you,” Gail said.
“I’ll be out this afternoon, but if you want anything from the kitchen, just help yourself.”
Mrs. Scofield waved as she turned to walk out of the hallway into the kitchen. Gail lingered in the doorway, looking after her. She had seen the hallway only briefly, when she had arrived, the night before. There was a hardwood floor covered partially by a thick red carpet that looked fuchsia where the sunshine from a nearby window coursed across its surface. A few pictures of the Scofield’s now-grown children and extended family decorated the pink walls.
Gail took a timid step onto the carpet to inspect the black and white photograph opposite her door. In the picture sat a little girl, a toddler, wearing a frilly dress and an open-mouthed smile that revealed her lower first two baby teeth. Looking closer, Gail saw that someone had written “Charlotte Scofield” in tight cursive in the bottom right corner of the photo.
It isn’t fair, she thought, looking at the photo, what some people can’t have and some people take for granted. Bitterness began to rise in her, but as soon as she recognized it, the stone reminded her that it was a fragment of something larger, something eternal that would outlast love and family. Gail went back into her room and closed the door.
Silently, she lay back down on her bed and opened A Field Guide to North American Vernal Pool Macro-Organisms.