Folding Expectations – Emmie Christie

At five-years-old playing hide and seek, Enna folded herself into a medium handbag in a closet. Her small limbs collapsed into themselves, yielding, liquefying into a certain impossibility. No one found her for half an hour, and they gave up and called out, “Ollie, ollie, in come free!”

She snuck her hand out, unzipped the purse, and stepped out of the closet. They all gasped. “Where were you? We looked in there!” Their faces expanded in shock — bigger eyes, drawn up eyebrows, and open mouths. She never told them the truth because she shouldn’t have fit. Five years old did not equal a handbag, even a medium one.

The sensations had hooked her. Both the folding of her body, and their reactions, the contortion of their mouths.

She played by sliding her legs back behind her head to fit tighter inside of cardboard boxes. Her mother had found her and screamed that first time. But Enna just smiled up at her, upside down.

“It’s alright, I can get out!”

Over the years, she’d edged close to that feeling of dissolving, but never that full impossibility. At thirty-eight, she fit inside of a standard carry-on suitcase. The crowd gasped and cringed at how her torso bent back on itself, how her cheek pressed against the transparent inside of the suitcase. And satisfaction folded inside of her like an origami bird, always finding new ways to delight her. She loved fitting inside of things, as if she could squeeze into another kind of space, one without gravitational rules, or temperamental circus managers, or rent rising in her apartment.

Then, an anonymous note with a foot-long vase showed up at her apartment: “Try this, if you think you’re so good.”

She knew herself, the angle of her hips, the geometry of her spine. She couldn’t slip through the slender neck of the flower vase. No one could. The note meant to mock, to chide. But she loved dares, and the arching curve of the vase called to her limbs. She grinned and stuck her arm through, then her shoulders wrinkled, and she poured into the vase like a stream of creamer into a mug of coffee.

Oh, no.

Oh, yes.

Both thoughts hit her at once. And she spilled back out, no bones, no hard stops, and formed herself back up again, breathing hard. She’d chased that all her life, that anything-can-happen feeling.

Pages: 1 2

Leave a Reply