BY ELLIOT ANDREOPOULOS
Rene’s mother instructed her to hold whatever excrement festered inside her stomach for as long as possible so they could get their money’s worth on the food bill. She obliged and suffered daily with extreme stomach pains. She was made fun of in school for the putrid gas her body released involuntarily. Severe depression and gastroenterological problems followed.
At fifteen she married Spice, a prophet in the church. She was his twelfth wife, not that she had choice in the matter. Her mother couldn’t afford her and sold into marriage. Spice didn’t care about her bowel problem, or her, for that matter. He was a donor of seed and nothing more. There was no indication her life would be anything but perpetual misery.
Rene peeled a mountain of carrots with another mountain still to be peeled. Spice had over sixty children to feed. Matilda, his first wife, entered the kitchen. She had been repeatedly impregnated giving birth every nine months for the past seven years. The wear on her body was strong, but she didn’t complain because she was the first wife of a prophet, and because of that, she believed she was the most important woman in the world.
“You’re cutting most of the carrot off you fool,” Matilda said and punched Rene’s stomach. She enjoyed bullying the other wives, especially Rene.
Rene released a loud bang of gas from the sudden shock. She hadn’t used the bathroom in two weeks.
“You swine!” Matilda screamed and left the room vowing revenge without using cuss words, because the Lord frowned upon foul language.
Rene got nervous because Matilda was going to tell Spice. This was not the impression she wanted to make on him. The pain in Rene’s bowels intensified and she got up to use the bathroom.
Spice entered the kitchen. He was a big, intimidating man of three hundred fifty pounds. Rene was petrified. She hadn’t even had a conversation with him, just dozens of sessions of prostituting her body. She had no idea what he was going to do to her. She released gas again.
“Are you serious you invalid!” He began violently kissing and rubbing her body. Rape as punishment.
When he pushed up against her stomach, she backed away in pain.
“Come to me now!” he said and punched her stomach. “I am your master!”
He punched her stomach again knowing about how much pain it caused.
She ran out the door and Spice followed. She ran as fast as she could, no longer willing to live as a slave. When she thought she couldn’t run any longer, she ran faster. Spice, unable to combat his poor fitness, eventually gave up. She reached a diner and went into the woman’s bathroom to do her business. She knew life wasn’t going to be easy, but she would make it her own way, no longer a slave to anything. Not even her stomach.
Elliot Andreopoulos lives with his family in New York. His favorite writers include Tim O’Brien, E. Annie Proulx and Stephen King.