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The Coming Flood

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First her ears hear; they open. Then her eyes can see; they open. Her face, a revolving door, swings open and shut, open and shut. She no longer sleeps at night; it’s too hard to breathe after four breast-implant operations. She drops, like rain down a window, collapsing in fatigue, breathing through her mouth, and even exhaustion seems miraculous. Then during the daytime, tiredness and lack of sleep bring on momentary, frenzied fits of rage. She’ll walk into a shop and, if no one rushes to help her, she screams and causes chaos. The people around her turn to look. Mónica can see their faces – they’re disgusted, they’re shocked – she feels their eyes look her up and down, feels them on her, climbing her legs, hanging from her hips, her breasts, their eyes. When she walks out into the street, their eyes tinkle like little bells jingling from her flesh and that brings back her smile; for days now there’s been something new in the world: her body bathed in their looks, but, like acid, something has coursed through her and eaten away the sweetness. Even the house has changed; it’s been all chopped up. There are times when she wants to go to the bathroom and ends up in the kitchen, and vice versa.

‘It’s because I’m not sleeping,’ she thinks.

But not sleeping is as familiar as the pen marking the page in her operation diary, suspended there, like a thought containing everything. Who is that, walking at night? Who makes that noise, those footsteps that are suddenly beside her bed and then stop? It’s as though someone were really sitting there; she feels their weight, in the middle of the night, and thinks, ‘Now they’re going to touch me.’ And she plays with that touch, she whets it. She changes position again, opens her mouth again, as wide as she can. Inhales. Even the air is weightless now, no longer dense enough to fill her lungs, to oxygenate her blood, as it used to. Her breasts hover on either side of her body, she’s suffocating. She tries sitting up and then lies back down. She thrashes around, loses consciousness for three hours and then suddenly regains it, flails her white arms, startled.

‘Tomorrow I have a film shoot,’ she says aloud.

Immediately she wonders if she really said it aloud or only thought the words. She wants to say them aloud, and so touches her fingertips to her lips to make sure they’re moving this time.

‘Tomorrow I have a film shoot,’ she repeats.

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