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Marshmallows and Wood-Ear Mushrooms

Marshmallows and Wood-Ear Mushrooms

– Non-fiction by Carla Myers – November 9, 2018

Mushrooms in sunlight in a forest

Today is the first day of my last period. I know because in three weeks, when my body prepares to do it again, I will run into a man with a knife. I can’t say I will miss it. As he removes my ovaries, he will slap an estrogen patch on my arm and stick a progesterone IUD in my uterus, which will prevent me from falling off the hormone ledge into menopause, and I guess making sure that, short of immaculate conception, I will not get pregnant. It would be pretty special if I did because even Sarah and Mary still had their ovaries. So, unlike some BRCA positive women, I won’t be faced with immediately becoming a wretched old crone, instead they will slowly wean me off of the hard stuff over a number of years, at which point I will become a wretched old crone.

Today I watched ovaries on YouTube. It struck me that I have never seen an ovary. I saw diagrams of ovaries in high-school that looked like slices of pimento loaf and when I was trying to get pregnant, a nurse gave me a pamphlet where a cartoon ovary with legs told me to eat vegetables. It turns out that an elderly cadaver that has been cut into quarters down the midline, then across the equator and then left for a while in the spicy reddish-brown brine pickled sausage is made in, has ovaries that look like almonds attached to a wood-ear mushroom. In a twenty-year-old, healthy ovaries look like soaked great northern beans on a rubber-band.

I liked believing in the mystical land made of miniature marshmallows where every month, one of the two-million eggs I was born with heard its name called, packed its genes in a My Little Pony suitcase, and floated down the jet-way for take-off. I should appreciate the beauty inside the human body, my grandfather, a physician, definitely did. He kept a miscarried fetus—in mid development, floating in formaldehyde, in a glass womb in his office. It was a boy, my mother’s only brother. I don’t think he couldn’t bear to part with it.

Do I have to take it on faith that I even have ovaries? The cadaver and the young woman on YouTube seem to have them. I believe I have hands because I see them; but what lies in the slick pudding under the skin of my abdomen? I’ve seen pictures of my ovaries during an ultrasound exam but they look like unresolved transmissions from mars. If in high-school I was told I have an organ that looks like a piano and processes soup and regrets, I would have believed it. Now, if a doctor told me my piano had to be removed, I’m pretty sure I would miss it.

It’s my mystery to solve though. I don’t want foreign hands entering my body, squeezing my marshmallows, stealing my wood-ear mushroom, gathering up my great northern beans, and playing Good-Night Ladies on my piano on their way out. Whatever is in there is mine.

Carla MyersAbout the Author – Carla Myers

With an undergraduate degree in sculpture and a J.D., Carla Myers followed the most logical path to becoming a writer. This year she retained a significant number of body parts, but not as many as she had hoped. Carla Myers recently won the flash-fiction writing contest at The Gateway Review with a story about killing off some of her ancestors. She is the winner of the Columbia Journal Evolve Special Issue and her work has been published in The Jabberwock Review, Patheos, Muse/ A Journal, Streetlight, Convivium and Sonic Boom. *”Marshmallows and Wood-Ear Mushrooms” was first published online with Columbia Journal/ Evolve 2018/ May 31, 2018.

Did you like “Holes” by Carla Myers? Then you might also like Carla Myers’ other stories: “Just a Half-Teaspoon” and “Holes.”  

Looking for more to read? Check out:

Working the Fire Line
The Prisoner: Free at Last
Vacuum Extraction
The Space I Take