Lily’s Room


Lily’s head led her into a white room where the carpet lurched into a lotion so hot her nipples melted, cooled, then slid right off. Hours before, at the tanning salon, she sat in a gold-knobbed chair and coolly questioned other girls about the parts of her skin she will never control: tiny inexplicable bead-drops of brown dripping down onto her shoulders from outer space, little light bulb-gods hexing up a deep, itching pink. In the end, she tells them it all peels away. The white room, pregnant with steam and sweat, is curated by Lily’s very own mind but coroners of an older, more arcane stoma of science gave it life. No matter is safe, no atom guarantees it will stay. Once her nipples fell, she cupped two warm black eggs gently in her hands because what breaks ceases to mystify her. As fast as Lily’s mind can swim within itself, dimension yields and the walls are throbbing chests of cornered felines, maybe the mealy innards of a mantis-hued gourd. Once, it was her own body poured, uninspected, and then split four ways.

There was a time when the white room could not exist. There was a time when Lily had a green lion for a father but her mother would not marry him. From the last fragment of their alchemy, Lily ignited, cauterizing each channel of his heart until he became flesh and bone. Her mother’s molecules were curdling long before. Inside them, wet, dark Lily grew. Though it is said to be impossible, she remembers the first white room she ever entered. She cannot remember exactly where she was three afternoons ago but some sort of modern science occurred. If she held the thought long enough she might recall, in its place, the first time she set conditions to create life. Following that, she might revisit how it felt when the bloom finally unsealed itself. She caught sight of it on her way out, in the sun, one floret too bright to call coincidence. In her white room, it yellows gracefully.

nyoka lives in Columbia, South Carolina for now, but soon she’ll be on a bar-stool near you. Find her work in journals such as Hermeneutic Chaos, After the Pause, Gambling the Aisle and Maudlin House. She's currently working on her first chapbook. Tweet @nyokaeden.

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