STORY NUMBER: 23
PROMPT PROVIDER: anonymous
TITLE: Perfectly Natural
Considering how much time we spend in school being told about puberty, it’s amazing all the details they leave out. They’re dead quick to tell you about your breasts appearing, hair growing in places it didn’t grow before, and of course, endless stuff on periods. Then they list methods of contraception at you until you ask them to stop, and after that you’re on your own.
Nobody ever took me aside to point out that my skin would start feeling like someone had used it to wrap up a roadside bacon sandwich. I had to find out about the white stains that keep appearing on your underwear all by myself. Also the eggs.
The first did not go well. I only knew about it when I got a sharp, biting pain in my gut. It felt like cramps, but my period had been the week before, so it couldn’t have been, could it? I struggled to get to the bathroom and then the pain stopped and I felt… something… squeeze its way out of me. The shock of it took all the strength out of me knees, and suddenly I was sat on the landing carpet with a crunch, my pants filled with a cold stickiness, occasional jagged bits poking into my bum. I reached down, and my hand came out covered in yellow, stringy liquid, tiny shards of eggshell hanging off it.
I did what anyone would do. Immediately changed my pants and trousers, putting the old ones deep into the laundry pile and hoping nobody would ever see them again. You might think that this wasn’t the right thing to do. You probably would’ve gone to a doctor, maybe even sold the story to a paper for a tidy sum. But my cheeks were still hot from asking my GP about my breasts getting sore at the last check-up. I didn’t know if laying an egg was normal, but I did know that scrambling it in your pants was probably not what you were supposed to do. So I hid the evidence and to be honest, after a week I’d forgotten it had ever happened.
But when that same trapped wind feel appeared at the same time the following month, I wasn’t going to be caught out twice. I excused myself from the dinner table, and was in my bedroom with my pants and trousers around my ankles when the pain started, squatting over one of my pillows on the floor.
This time I was prepared, and it happened less suddenly. The pain was over quickly, and then I felt the warm, smooth surface of the shell slip out of me, barely making a sound as it dropped onto the pillow.
I picked it up between thumb and forefinger, sitting down on the pillow, and turned the egg around. It was a pale green, freckled, and no larger than the Tesco Free Range ones in the fridge. Which was where I put it. Well, I couldn’t exactly bin it, could I? And I didn’t want to spend God knows how long sitting on it or holding it under a desk lamp.
So I got one of the empty egg boxes my mum used to paint green and make crocodiles with my little brother, put the egg inside, and hid it at the back of the fridge, behind The Old Broccoli.
When it happened again the next month, I put that in the box as well. And again the month after that. I was pretty sure they wouldn’t hatch. I mean, I assumed biology still made sense – you had to fertilise the eggs for them to hatch, surely?
But I know what you’re thinking. I must have been bricking it, right? If you’re laying eggs, that must be terrifying, surely?
But we’re talking about something that went on for three to five minutes, once a month. I always felt fine afterwards. I always felt fine in the run up to it. It was a doddle compared to actual periods (I’d absently wondered if they were related, but couldn’t find anything on Google).
Mainly I was worried about my drama GCSE. Why Deborah Eddings was being weird with me at school. Whether it was normal to like Nicola Pollock’s hair as much as I did, or if it meant I was a lesbian. Who was going to win the Great British Bakeoff. Once I replaced The Old Broccoli to make sure it didn’t get too Old and get thrown away. But on the whole, my life didn’t change a great deal when I wasn’t squatting over a cushion in my bedroom.
Then, one day, I sat down to dinner with my family, ready for the usual conversations about work, and school, and how I wasn’t taking my exams seriously enough, and my dad came in and served us each a Spanish omelette.
I actually wretched when I saw it, made my apologies and dashed not for the bathroom, but the kitchen. I moved The New Old Broccoli out of the way, it had thankfully already started to yellow, and behind it lay the egg box, undisturbed. I pulled it out and opened it, just to check, and my heart skipped a beat when I saw those green, freckled shells lying cracked into pieces in their places.
In the other room my family were still eating their omelettes. I poked the shells. Glints of bronze poked out from between them. I lifted the top off the first, oldest egg. Inside it was a tiny screwdriver. I put the box back in the fridge, and returned The New Old Broccoli to its place.
We spent the rest of the evening in the living room, watching buddy cop crime dramas on Netflix. After everyone went to bed, I went to the fridge. I took the egg box up to my room. I opened each shell, took the bronze pieces from each, and laid them out on the carpet in a line.
Then, I picked up the screwdriver, and began putting them together.
PROMPT: A teenage girl begins laying eggs monthly, which goes unreported until one hatches and isn’t human.