Jaimie Gusman

Shape

The ocean is ice blue, a translucent clearing that could chill a wolf’s jaw. Our skin is not yet ready for it, but reflects a similar frosty pigment. We are still developing our hypodermis, but all the other organs are in place. We are not quite inside out, we are flat sheets of muscle. We are scalps, faces, hands, nipples.

But how old are we?
We are old enough to be your mothers.

Us blue women stand around the edge of water, take pleasure in watching the cold steam rise into fibrous silks, then hit the air like soft, warm breath.

We are old enough to be your mothers, so listen.

On earth, everything begins as a blue organism. First, we are liquid drops. Some of us join with others. Some of us stay singular.

We all develop small shells that hold our insides together. This is where we produce livers and hearts and brains. Then, we break open and suddenly have wings. But we don’t know how to use them, and they eventually fall off, then we grow skin.

In the fetal stage, we develop the lowest aspect of the soul. It matures in the liver, spreads throughout the body via blood.

Behind us are white mountains and gulches that are iced over, so we can never tell how deep the openings drive into the earth. Forests, too, ancient greens are browned over by dense moss and loamy soil. We have the ideal topography for growth.

When our wings fall off, the sound is exactly how one would imagine chitin to crumble, like the half-dead roseblooms continuing to hold shape.

Below our breasts are our hearts. They thump so hard you can see the little beats bulge through tender sternums. The middle part of the soul lives inside the bulge, chirps like a bat. It feeds off breast milk and sings when it’s full.

Chitin is not elastic. When its time for us to grow, we have to push out of our wings, split open the structure like a cicada from its shell.

On days when the lights are turned all the way up, we find bows and arrows and guns and knives stuck in tree roots. When we try to touch them, our hands go numb until we pass out.

Passing out is like dreaming. Sometimes we wake up back at the edge of the water. Sometimes we wake up again with wings we know we will eventually lose.

Around us is a welcoming luminous globe of white.

The brain is the highest level of the soul and comes to us when we hunt or imagine the forests turning to mud. Other colors flood in and the blues fade in the light.

We can’t swim through water, and there is no way out.

When we gather by the edge of the water we play the water game, what are you thinking? We stare into one another’s eyes and guess. Each time our thoughts get more complex, and some of us have to squint to find the answers.

We are blue, but our souls are blue hot.

When a soul reaches full development, it abandons us for the water. We watch them form from the steam rising.

But without wings, our souls float away from us.

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