Her Hips Do Lie
From the hip, a fast, powerful swing of the right leg, back to front, rotates and tilts Jen’s core. She now stands on her left leg, fists by her chin, her torso nearly horizontal and leaning left. The right leg continues the swing from the hip, morphs it into a jerk from the knee, her foot high up in the air. Leg is straight and toes are pointed, like a ballerina’s, as the top of the foot explodes against the heavy bag.
If the bag were a person, this kick against the side of their head would render them unconscious, perhaps rupture their eardrum or loosen their teeth.
Jen drops her right leg. She’s upright again, fists in front of her face, left foot forward, ready for the next right roundhouse kick at the coach’s count.
Jen’s childhood was running, climbing, jumping.
First came the boobs. Jen thought the boobs were funny. They were small and not in the way.
Then came the hips. Jen did not think the hips were funny. They were huge, terrifying, and very much in the way.
It became awkward to run, awkward to climb, awkward to jump. Awkward to be Jen.
Jen felt like her torso was now perched atop a utility trailer, too wide to pass through anything. Slow. Unwieldy. Wobbly. Ugly.
Jen felt that everyone who had ever said that your soul was in your chest was wrong. She felt hers had become trapped inside a cage made out of pelvic bones.
The hips were hungry. They demanded layers upon layers of fat.
Jen felt that the fat was like the padding on the walls of a horror-movie mental asylum, meant to drown the screams of those who were locked up inside, wearing straitjackets, never getting out alive.
The hips made Jen invisible.
Most men didn’t see her at all. The hips were too wide to see past, too fat to warrant even a glance at Jen.
Some men’s eyes lit up at the sight of the hips. These men liked to grab and squeeze the hips, liked to see the hips jiggle and bounce and gyrate and sway. Jen herself remained mostly hidden. These men rarely bothered to look for her.
The hips were covered in stretch marks.
Sometimes, Jen thought of her hips as the trunk of a tree, with stretch marks as the tree rings. One set of rings, with its distinct shape and hue, for each of the children she bore. This image made her smile and swell with joy.
Other times, Jen felt that each stretch mark was carved from the inside, by someone recording the passage of time by cutting jagged bloody grooves into the prison walls made of flesh.
The hips were all that anyone ever saw.
They were the hips of someone’s mom. The hips of someone nice. Kind. Perhaps even a little dumb.
They were the hips of someone soft and pliable, someone who could be talked down to.
Someone who would never be a challenge. Someone who didn’t matter.
The hips started to hurt. A lot.
They hurt all day and all night. Jen could not sit nor stand nor sleep.
She started walking. The hips hurt worse than ever, worse than they’d hurt coming apart as she carried her children.
But Jen walked, then walked some more, mostly to distract herself from the pain.
Soon she walked for hours upon hours, farther and farther from her home and her kids, and for a brief moment, she forgot all about looking like someone’s mom, all about being perched atop a utility trailer, all about being unwieldy, ugly.
She felt like Jen.
She realized that she’d become complacent, that she’d given up on her trapped self, that she too had started believing that she didn’t matter, that she was nothing other than a pair of wide hips belonging to someone’s mom.
She became pissed. The kind of pissed that makes you want to kick someone.
She wanted to hold on to that feeling.
Jen made the hips move, then move some more, in ways that she’d never known they’d be able to.
First she kicked low; slowly, timidly. Eventually, she would kick high; quickly, forcefully.
Little by little, the hips loosened, then gave in. The cage opened.
Jen could jump and run and climb again.
She was free.
Jen still looks like someone’s mom, most of the time. She doesn’t mind, most of the time.
When someone cuts in line in front of her or talks down to her, she takes a deep breath.
She excuses herself and reminds the person who cut in line that she was there first. She flatly requests that they stop patronizing her.
People are taken aback. Someone invisible, hidden behind those mom hips, just spoke.
Once they do finally see her, they appear scared.
They appear scared because, deep in the amygdala, they sense that her hips have deceived them.
Jen lowers her head and locks her eyes with theirs, her irises visible halfway, and she reveals her teeth in a wide grin.
She looks nothing like anyone’s mom.
She looks like a cat baring teeth at a mouse.
She looks like someone itching to kick you in the head.
Maura Yzmore writes research papers with a lot of math and waves dry-erase markers in front of confused college students. Her short fiction can be found in The Fiction Pool, Ellipsis Zine, Occulum, Gone Lawn, and elsewhere. Find out more at https://maurayzmore.com or come say ‘hi’ @MauraYzmore on Twitter. Maura promises not to kick you in the head.
(Next: Vaughn by Erin Murphy ESSAY)
(Previous: 303 days before his suicide, Judge Haloran realizes he ought to have consulted an expert by Jacqueline Boucher)
Feel like submitting? Check out our submission guidelines