“Mum” by Svetlana Sterlin

Issue 18 / Summer 2019 / Abortion Ban Protest Special Issue


You’ve spent the last three hours screaming. On a hospital bed. In a small city.

Your vision’s red. When the gloved hands touch you, they leave wet slops on your skin, and the red is there, and not in your eyes. The velveteen traces of you are heavy. Like the dress you wore to prom when you were sixteen. When you pledged alongside your frivolous girlfriends that you’d never allow yourself to do what you’re doing now.

The wet clumps drip off your limp fingers. They slide along the insides of your flaccid legs.

The bed, the crumpled paper gown, your hair, your face—all drowned in blood.




You’ve heard the utterance of a first word. You’re no longer a person. You’ve been degraded to something less than human. Less than you. Only a human would know.

You’re a title. Always will be.

A role. Maybe the one you’ve been waiting for.

A unit of care devoting your life to someone else’s. Always have been.

A vessel built for carrying future vessels and future corpses. That’s all we are.

You don’t exist anymore. You can’t go back, can’t undo this. Can’t un-break the promises you made to yourself. You were ambitious. You had dreams. You chased more than wealth and security.

No—no changes. No going backwards. No wavering resolves. This is done. You’re here now. Even if you could bury what you once bore. You swallow and keep quiet.



Svetlana Sterlin lives in Brisbane, Australia, where she studies for a BFA (Creative and Professional Writing) and experiments with writing of various forms, lengths, and (sometimes blended) genres. Her writing appears in Germ Magazine, Entropy Magazine, Projector Magazine, and in AndAlso Books’ anthology Within/Without These Walls, published in association with the 2018 Brisbane Open House exhibition.

1 Comment

  1. Albert

    Well written!


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