P.K. Read

Cassie came into the world much like anyone else. She slipped through the opening between there and here, and then she was here and she was here to stay. She was a tiny thing from the very beginning, a wisp, a darling curl, a quick kiss. As she grew she remained wispy, slippish, the girl who could slip through keyholes, hide under mats, float up to the cobweb hammocks that swung lightly between the wall and the ceiling.

Cassie fit in anywhere, people took her everywhere like they took their thoughts or wedding rings, a part of life, she was a favorite photo in the wallet, not always highest in thoughts but noticed when absent.

As time went on, however, Cassie found herself ending up in the cracks and crevices of life, getting stuck in the line between the boards in the hardwood floors, in the grout between tiles, under the saucer with the tip money. She didn’t take up much space, and there was a space where she was that was growing empty.

This didn’t just happen in a day, or two.

And so Cassie began to eat. At first just a little. As the space inside filled out and the space around her retreated to make room, she ate more. She watched her stomach grow, she watched her breasts grow. People turned to watch her pass by on the street, women sighed and men began to sing. Before, Cassie had slipped in and out, now she slipped in and stuck. She liked the feeling.

This didn’t happen in just a week or two.

She continued to eat, indulging in whatever caught her eye. Eggplant, gourds, suckling pig. Octopus, pigeon, purple broccoli, panna cotta. Artichokes, borscht, goose fat, purple potatoes. She grew round, she watched her arms grow thick from the top down until first her elbows and then her wrists disappeared beneath layers of expanding Cassie. She grew cracks and crevices into which she herself would once have fit. The space between her toes closed, between her fingers, her neck migrated south, her breasts north, until they touched when she spoke or laughed or ate. She could feel the skin touching, it felt like a caress.

People liked to watch her eat, they came and sat with her and offered her their own food — Take it, no please, I insist, I’ll only eat too much and you enjoy it so much. Watching Cassie eat was better than eating itself. More satisfying, more filling, and the space between them diminished as Cassie glowed and grew with each shared morsel.

As time went by, Cassie didn’t even need to eat all the food to keep growing. She found she could grow more by having people around her, pushing their plates towards her, but she didn’t need to move the food to her mouth. She took their uneaten food into herself, uneaten. She was too large to fit through doors now, and when she walked down the street, traffic stopped, everyone watched, some people called out to her, Beautiful Cassie! And she laughed and grew some more.

Her knack for growing on the uneaten food of others became known far and wide. People came from all over to share their food, offering it at the altar of Cassie. She was far too large to fit into a house. She took over a small, abandoned baseball stadium so people could come visit her and she could have room to lie down once in a while. It was delightful to have so many friends, but tiring to not eat everyone’s uneaten meals all the time. Ever more people came, and if it had been up to them, Cassie would have been not eating their uneaten food around the clock. She had to get a bigger stadium, but as her popularity grew, even that grew too small.

This didn’t happen in just a month or two.

People around the world, even those who hadn’t given any food to Cassie because they had none to give, were nonetheless bathed in the happiness that was Cassie. The uneaten food was distributed, everyone had enough to eat, any extra could be offered to Cassie and then passed on again. She was the perfect sustainability machine.

She grew and grew, she grew large enough that she could cross a continent in one or two steps, she could cross an ocean by letting go of one land mass and floating the short distance to the other side. The people of the world came to greet her, and they didn’t even need to offer plates of food or trucks of food or warehouses of food, the transfer took place just by people gathering in the general vicinity of Cassie and she took whatever burdened them and grew from it.

This didn’t happen in just a year or two.

Soon, the general vicinity of Cassie was pretty much anywhere on the planet at any given time, there were few places that were ever very far from Cassie because Cassie had grown to be almost everywhere at once. She who had once hung in the cobwebs betwixt ceiling and wall. Now her head bumped against the stratosphere and shortly thereafter she popped right through. The world kept turning with Cassie’s shoulders and head in space, and then her belly grew around the waist of the Earth and then the Earth was in Cassie and she was the heavenly body in gentle orbit around the sun. People on Earth were happy as clams, merrily turning around the sun in the sunny space of Cassie.

Cassie grew, one planet, two planets, three planets, the Sun, all inside Cassie, who no longer remembered her own name or nature or where she was, and she felt good.

This didn’t just happen in a century or two.

Cassie grew, she drank the Milky Way from the Big Dipper, and grew until the universe was in Cassie.

There was nothing but joy in Cassie, because finally, finally, she felt one thing besides happiness, and what Cassie felt was sated. She was full. She couldn’t eat one more bite, thank you, no.

Cassie burped, a great starburst burp, a burp of ages.

Cassie burped, it was the Big Burp, and the cosmos recommenced, born anew, a small cosmos, a slipping through the opening between here and there, born of joy, ready to grow.

P.K. READ is a French-American writer. Born and raised in California, she lives in eastern France.

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