A Stubborn Woman Gives Nothing by Nikoletta Gjoni

A Stubborn Woman Gives Nothing

Izanami and Izanagi danced around the pillar over and over again, and each time, Izanami spoke first.

Each swollen belly bore them another deformed child. Each child was thrown into the sea.

Izanami did not want to be a mother.

Izanagi pleaded for her to follow the rules. Follow the rules for a blessing from the gods. Follow the rules to be gifted a healthy child.

Follow the rules and let me speak first, her husband pleaded each day. There is a process for us to follow.

But with each chase around the pillar, Izanami ran after her husband; spoke first; threw him to the ground and mounted.

Please, he’d beg his wife. Please let me do what I need to do.

But another belly eclipsed the sun. Another misshapen child sprung from her body, another child the gods could do nothing with. (A stubborn woman’s body is poison for what grows within it, like dry soil that yields no flowers.)

The gods lost hope that man would ever exist and bemoaned the creation of Izanami, a spiteful and selfish deity. They did not know that:


Izanami’s womb was the beginning and the end of the world.
Izanami’s lips were the dark clouds that filled the seas.
Izanami’s torso was the tree trunk that split the earth from the heavens.


Izanagi lay beside his wife each night, wondering why they were created together. Each night she had her way with him, and each morning discarded his love.

The world remained all ocean; the lands waiting to be born but sinking a little deeper with each abandoned newborn cast into the sea.

Izanami saw no higher purpose than to just be with the body she was given.


A Stubborn Woman Gives Nothing


Nikoletta Gjoni is a fiction and creative nonfiction writer living outside of Washington, DC. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in Kindling Volume III, Cleaver Magazine, New Flash Fiction Review, and Riggwelter Press, among others. Her work has been previously nominated for the PEN/Robert J. Dau prize and Best of the Net. You can follow her on Twitter @NikiGjoni or her website at www.ngjoni.com.


We rely on gifts from readers to keep going. We don’t charge submission fees, and the advertising you might see here is WordPress, not us. So please give a little if you can (or give a lot – that’s okay too!)

Thank you!


(Next: Altar of Mine by Jen Soong)

(Previous: Could Be by Janelle Bassett)

Feel like submitting? Check out our submission guidelines



Art Utagawa Public Domain