Vital Plastics

The following is an excerpt from ‘Vital Plastics’, a short story published in The Happy Hypocrite 8, edited by Sophia Al-Maria and published by Book Works in September 2015. Available to purchase from Book Works


  1. She preferred brightly coloured bags that would tint the world orange or lend her face a blue cast. She tilted her head back and with her breath, the fine plastic sealed her parted lips. The suction forced an even curve into her mouth – like a large eye, its lids turned inside out, gazing down her arrested oesophagus. She cradled the bulge, affectionately stroking its contoured surface with the tip of her tongue. She used two fingers to gently press the plastic into her nostrils, since their insufflation wasn’t quite strong enough. She envisioned the puffed, amorphous form that replaced her head, made identifiable as a face only by three small indents. In the asphyxiated seconds, she pictured her internal cavities and passages highlighted like a medical diagram, slicked and soothed and blue. With an exhale, she felt the warm and sour dampness of her breath held close to her skin. She liked to imagine herself as a landform contained within its sympathetic weather system. Her struggling lungs moved in tandem with the rising and falling plastic and she found the synchronous dance beautiful, even if one partner remained invisible inside her.

This practice left her lips pleasantly numbed, looser and more lumpish. She often culminated with a minute flutter of the tongue, dispelling a rogue filament in a ppptppthththppt that seemed to have some aural kinship with the sound of the bag caught by air, as if some of its stiff quiver had transferred itself to the finer flesh around her mouth.

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