By Simon Barget
The massive hole in my abdomen has opened up once again and they can’t paper it over meaning that anything can get inside it. I am not so worried about things falling out, I’m more concerned about what’s getting in and that it might be making me dirty. I thought — I mean I must have thought at some point — that the hole had vanished for good. There had always been a small one but one so small it hardly ever came to my attention. It was reasonable to conclude that it might have closed over. The hole in my abdomen was so small you couldn’t fit in a pin head, so why be in any way concerned about air and dust and errant pieces of fluff, things so very trivial? Why should there have been any cause for complaint?
Sometimes the massive hole in my abdomen opens up a little bit, not very much though, and sometimes it’s because I pick at it, yes I can freely admit that. I spend and I have spent an inordinate amount of time, I spend hopelessly wasted and spurned time picking at the ends of the hole, picking at the skin, pulling at it, digging the ends of my nails into it, play-rupturing and puncturing, I fiddle with the puckered hole just to see how much harm I can do, how much havoc I can wreak without really breaking into it. I have to say, that in some way or another, when one hand’s on the keyboard or stub of the saucepan, when I am busy with one thing or the next, the other hand is right by the hole-side, probing, checking, assessing, twiddling and tweaking, pulling and prodding, essentially counting my blessings that I have a hole I can do pretty much whatever I like with knowing it will stay right as it has always been.
Now the massive hole in my abdomen has been so small over my whole life I have never considered consulting a doctor and in some way I think a plasterer would be a much better bet. But then again, I never felt that anyone could do the right job and beside paper or whatever material the man would happen to use to cover it over, even if he used a very strong glue and was fully focussed and thorough, I would always know the hole was still there, because we all know you can never cover a hole properly, you can only fill it with something.
But the less I say about filling it, the better. I don’t want to get into that. I only know about the perforations of the skin. What’s beneath is a mystery, a bit of a big bag of worms — perhaps there are literal worms crawling all over inside me — if I remotely begin to put effort into thinking about the preliminary steps it would take to investigate the size of the hole, if I come close to the first thoughts required, if I engage in the contemplation, if that line of thought is even so much as flirted with, the discomfort is so great that I am repelled to the point of physical movement.
Now the massive hole in my abdomen has just opened up big time. I wasn’t touching it -- I can assure you -- and it just opened way up. There wasn’t a tearing or a pop. I can put my right hand in all the way up to the elbow. I can cast in a fishing line and fish for a catch. I can stand in front of the mirror but there is nothing to see there, certainly no blood, nothing remotely akin to flesh, in fact what I am met with is so alien and intangible that I have a hard time looking for more than a millisecond. It is precisely that absence of distinct visible object that makes it so bewildering, a trifle unsettling. Tell me, as an example, where does the arm actually go?
So then it is not so much the looking at the hole but the feel of it which sets me off balance, it is this knowing that things are just passing right through me, that they are at this very moment completely oblivious to my once-compact seamless and hermetically-sealed body, ignoring any attempt on my skin’s behalf to repel them, and the worst of it actually is when I am moving and the world just barges right in, takes it hold, and I have no idea where it’s gone and how I’ll ever manage to dig it all out again because there is so much of the bloody stuff in there.
You cannot dig the world out of a bowel; there is simply no tool for it. Before I close up, I suppose I should be a little bit more precise about the location because it does sometimes move. It is mostly by the left of the breastbone where we’re told that the heart is, and then it descends to the upper extremities of the stomach but now the hole is there and so big I might be better off talking about where the hole isn’t because it seems to have taken hold of my whole upper body, my mid-bits and my nether regions, my buttocks and backbone, so that the only places that appear to demonstrate some slender sense of solidity are the tops of my legs and my feet.