Excerpt from The End We Start From by Megan Hunter, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The End We Start From

by Megan Hunter

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter X
The End We Start From by Megan Hunter
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  • Published:
    Nov 2017, 160 pages

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Karen Lewis

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1

I am hours from giving birth, from the event I thought would never happen to me, and R has gone up a mountain.

When I text him, he sends his friend S to look after me, and starts down the mountain.

S is scared, and has brought J.

J is also scared, and has brought beer.

They watch me from a corner of the room as though I am an unpredictable animal, a lumbering gorilla with a low-slung belly and suspicious eyes. Occasionally they pass me a banana.

They try to put Match of the Day on. I growl. I growl

more and more, and finally I am waterless, the pool of myself spreading slowly past my toes.

They flap like small birds around the water, they perch on my giant head, they speak of kettles and hot towels.

I tell them I have to push, and they back away, reaching

for their phones.

* * *

At first there was only the sea, only the sky. From the sky came a rock, which dropped deep into the sea. A thick slime covered the rock, and from this slime words grew.

* * *

Before I dilate, we agree: R will get his two nights in nature. He will climb and trek, camp and forage.

I am nearly as wide as I am tall. In the supermarket, people avoid me. Sometimes, in narrow hallways, I get stuck.

All by itself, the head balls into place.

* * *

We have planned a water birth, with whale music, and hypnotism, and perhaps even an orgasm.

My usual cynicism has been chased away by the fear of pain, of losing control, of all things bloody and stretching.

The moment of birth looms ahead of me like the loss of my virginity did, as death does. The inevitable, tucked and waiting out there somewhere.

Once, when I was about eight, I looked at a telegraph pole as hard as I could. I made a mind-photo, urged myself to remember it that night.

When I did, the rest of the day seemed like it had never happened. I terrified myself that I would do this at the moment of death, that I could trick my whole life away.

When I was a child I thought I had been chosen for our times. The ending times. The creeping times.

* * *

I am thirty-two weeks pregnant when they announce it: the water is rising faster than they thought. It is creeping faster. A calculation error. A badly plotted movie, sensors out at sea.

We hide under the duvet with a torch like children. I ask R if he still would have done it. If he had known.

He doesn't answer.

He shines the torch up into the duvet and makes his fingers into ducks. I decide to take that as a yes.

* * *

I am a geriatric primigravida, but I don't look it.

We have leather sofas. R spills takeaway on them and grins: wipe clean.

I am thirty-eight weeks when they tell us we will have to move. That we are within the Gulp Zone.

I say whoever thought of that name should be boiled in noodles. R spends all night on the same property website. It is loading very slowly.

* * *

Man came from a germ. From this germ he was fashioned, from clot to bones to thick flesh. He stood up on one end, a new creation.

* * *

J phones an ambulance and S looks out of the window palely.

I gaze at the wooden floor. I have never noticed how beautiful it is before.

It is perfectly dusk-coloured, and the whorls are rising like dark little planets through its glow.

Between the waves of disembowelling wrench the world is shining. I feel like Aldous Huxley on mescaline. I am drenched in is-ness.

* * *

When I am thirty-nine weeks they tell us we don't have to move, actually; it was all a mistake.

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The End We Start From © 2017 by Megan Hunter. First published 2017 by Picador, a UK imprint of Pan Macmillan. Reprinted with the permission of the publisher, Grove Press, an imprint of Grove Atlantic, Inc. All rights reserved.

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