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In This Body

Ally Kölzow

In this body, I hold a thousand souls. An endless echo surges from the disruption of peace, ceaselessly crowded into one hollow shell. I force them down into my static toes, draw battle lines between my mind and theirs, but they rise with the force of a thousand waves, rippling through surrendering veins, rising within my dwindling blood, rushing past my flightless bones. Once there were birds outside my window, a lesson in false fragility. What is a wing against the wind? The outline of a blade: a scalpel slicing through the seamless sky. When the birds chased the sun to escape the winter, I closed my eyes and joined them, imagined wings bursting from seams in my back, flesh unravelling to free midnight feathers, my rarity made beautiful. A lesson in heartbreak, then: to be anchored to the ground, imprisoned by sweat-soaked sheets, falling back into a body that is mine but not mine, theirs but not theirs, our claims staked but unwon. I am not free as a bird. I am three years of unbroken sleep, sunken into a restless abyss. A body with no moving parts. I am the splintered pieces of my past: fractured fragments, each edge its own blade, carving out another soul from my soul. A thousand souls born from one, rising and rising and rising. They break past the barrier of my torso, a torrent crashing through my ribcage, worse than bile as they climb past my throat. I am my unanswered future: the absent note of an unsung song, a path erased, the brutal dead end. Nowhere left to go. Once the thousand souls reach my mind, I am gone. The birds fly. In another body, I have a thousand wings.

Ally is a writer and lifelong daydreamer who lives in Somerset, UK. In her work, she often explores the intersection of the body and disability through a speculative lens. Her fiction has been published in The Mersey Review and Unspeakable: A Queer Gothic Anthology.
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