Second edit: been cut before EDITED

I can’t let you see me.

And they were all celebrating while I bled.

Don’t look at me, not there.

We were dressed like dolls, toyed with, dark-skinned Barbies, just babies when, gems glittering can’t distract from tears, she made the cut.

 

Not down there, I know it’s why I came, but please, not now.

They’re singing in the courtyard, shrill ululations echo, my scream unheard.

You’re not listening either, my presence in your office permission enough. I’m screaming, ‘Don’t touch,’ but nothing comes out.

 

Take off your dress, she said, and you say it too. I can still smell the perfume, even as you disinfect your hands. Lie down, she said. I lie, your bed an invitation, curtains drawn.

Open your legs like a good girl, she said. You stand and wait for me to open my legs, but I’ve been cut before.

 

I push down the skirt. Not now, I say, I can’t. I’ll book again. And on the street I can hear sirens screaming for me.

 

The bride price is high.

Your invoice arrives, despite my refusal.

 

 

Cutaway EDITED

I watch the blade, the blade I chose,

and I watch the line, the line in my control,

and it grows.

 

As blood spills, I release my anger that I had to choose, anger that it chose me,

Or did it?

 

Uncertainty bites, and I slice again.

 

Establishing shot: To Frances Burney EDITED

I don’t know how she does it, I don’t know how she did.

What choice?

Seven men, and when the question rose, Qui me tiendra ce sein? she said, I will.

She chose.

 

And like today, my choice laid plain, when I look back, would I make it again?

 

I don’t know how she did it and I walk towards the knife.

Steel glitters, strange perverted choice.

Cut me! I call. Slice me left and right.

(And all the world watches Angelina Jolie, seeming unscathed.)

 

And the man, it’s always a man, takes up the knife.

Strange courage, cut that which might be good.

His risk, and mine, partners in violation.

What good could my breasts have done, what harm?

Death and life in his plastic hand.

 

I don’t know how she did it, each morning as I watch my fingers crawl a little higher up the wall.

Did I make the right choice?

She chose. They never knew what grew inside her.

I’ll never know if I share my sister’s fate (it’s ninety-ten) and still I chose the blade.

What choice had she?

 

 

Dissolve/Cross Cutting. For Two. EDITED

First Voice

‘You’re my beautiful wife,’ you say, as you drive into me again and again.

I close my eyes.

‘It’s so much better for you now,’ you say. No question.

And of course it is, no battle pain. But you don’t understand that I’ve lost.

‘And my son, and his sons, Can you imagine?’

I don’t ask, What if it’s a girl?

The surgeon smiles at his work, my husband beams, expectant.

I fear my growing belly.

They say, ‘You’ll be fine,’ but they won’t tell me the sex.

And in the ninth month, je suis l’appel du vide.

Second Voice

‘You’re still beautiful,’ you say.

I raise my eyebrows, note that you won’t touch the scars, (But nor will I).

‘We still can, I mean, you could just bottlefeed,’ he says.

We discuss it with the counsellor.

Adopt. Donated eggs.

Just get a fucking doll, I scream, then it won’t cry, either.

‘I thought, now it’s all over, why isn’t it better now? You don’t seem happy.’

I stand. I walk away.

 ‘I stood by you, All through, until … we fell apart. You don’t want me.’

You’re wrong, I say, I don’t want me.

It doesn’t end.

I thought it would, job done, a perfect 36C.

But you didn’t anticipate another cancer within me.

 

Dissolve: It’s not the same. For two. EDITED

A week in, home, heady on opium, I squat and wait.

 

It’s normal, just the drugs, you’ll be fine.

We give it time, Not laxatives.

 

I bargain, internally, negotiate with phantom pain.

If I stop today … Too soon, they say.

I wait.

 

And still I play a waiting game, until I stop. Pain welcome here.

I wait, I wait.

 

On the third day, catharsis.

Right now, I rate a good shit over orgasm.

Relief trumps pain.

 

I wait as, fresh knife each drop, I urinate.

I didn’t know, some lost recall, it was easier back then.

 

It got worse, the curse they say.

Do you know the smell of week old blood?

 

I know now, things should emerge more easily than drip by caustic drip.

 

You want in, modern man, restraining yourself, from cut, slash, rip.

 

I try again. You come with me, hold my hand, so I can’t run.

I lie there, legs spread. You talk over my head.

 

‘It’ll all be easier soon.’

Just open me up. I pretend I’m not here. We’ll all be happier when it’s done.

 

 

It isn’t how I imagined.

You’re happy, though, and I’ve regained hours each day, weeks each month.

I plot the rest of my life. Day one.

Cross Cutting, for two voices EDITED

They held me down,

 

Blades are cheap,

Again and again they cut,

And I scream and I scream.

 

It’s so remote, no turning back.

We’re off to see your grandmother,

They lied.

 

And they act like they’re so happy.

You’ll be beautiful, they say.

 

No-one talks about it, we all know.

 

 

 

 

Sometimes we don’t come back.

‘Why didn’t you just say no?’ he asks.

Like I knew, like I had any idea.

 

It’s easy for you. I spat. You don’t have to.

‘But if my wife, my sister, my daughter …’ He says.

What right have you, I say,

To try to walk in my shoes?

 

It’s too late now, you hold me down.

 

 

 

I chose to go.

 

I don’t know how she did it,

Alert until she faints.

 

 

I shouldn’t have read this,

Shouldn’t have thought …

 

 

A gory trip through YouTube, I can’t stop.

 

 

It’s the not knowing that’s driven me here,

Or is it the knowing,

Knowing that my mother died?

 

And if I’d known, and if I know,

And if I could see, would I still?

And will my girl? What daughter?

 

My breasts are still untried,

Should I wait?

 

 

 

 

I choose the knife.

 

 

 

Power cut

We sit,

At the end of the screening,

And the credits stop,

Mid flow.

 

I thought,

It was dark, before.

But now, no light,

At all.

 

Is the man screening the film,

In darkness too?