Eyebrows

 

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1

She wrote down everything she could remember about them, now that they had gone, a memorial more permanent than memory, which was fickle, and fading. They had given her nothing to write with at first, but most of the guards were susceptible to bribes. In exchange for a few cigarettes – procured, in turn, for an only moderately degrading sexual act – she had got a pencil from one guard, and from another a bunch of old invoices, which she could write on the back of. ‘Dark,’ she wrote, and ‘arched’, though those qualities were hardly unique. She ran a hand over her bare brow ridges, still red and raw. Words failed her. Perhaps she could draw them instead, re-embody them in graphite and paper. She thought for a moment, then drew two, thick, slanted lines, snapping off the lead and rubbing it into the paper with her finger. They looked like seagulls, nothing like eyebrows at all. Her fingertips turned the colour of bruises, to match the ones where her nails used to be.

 

2 

There was water and salt for breakfast, and at the bottom of the bowl a colourless root vegetable she couldn’t remember the name of. How long had she been here, in this room with no air, a single window the size of a post-box opening, a roof made of wooden palettes that sagged like a water-filled balloon when it rained? Perhaps it had only been a few days since she had been picked up, perhaps a week or two. It seemed longer, or it seemed like yesterday. She couldn’t even tell what she felt anymore, except for the pain that sat under her skin, squatting and crawling and shrieking like pigs packed into a sow stall. She had made art out of such animals, art that dripped with blood and viscera, hung in places where the public might be shocked into rethinking their hamburgers and their belts and their wine full of bone marrow. And somehow humans had got in there too, bits of people all mixed up with the rest, and so they had come for her in the night, and bashed her, and deprived her of her freedom.

 

3

She began scraping the nub of her pencil against the hard cell wall, scraping and scraping until she could see lead again. She could hear footfall outside, and the deliberate clinking of metal on brick. They were coming back with the blowtorch, and she didn’t know what they were going to take next.

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