Sherry and her Art

Sherry and her Art

Sherry was a girl who lived on an island. She could stand on one side of the island and watch the sunrise, then walk all day across thick forests and deep cliffs to the other side of the island, just in time to see the sunset. She did this daily.

Sherry would wake up before sunrise and leave her village in the center of the island to walk right over to the edge of a cliff and gather berries at dawn. She’d fill bags full of beautiful berries and then carry them all morning to her home. She’d spend an hour or so smashing the berries into a jam, and then carry the jam to the other side of the island, where she’d catch the boats just as they were setting off, and sell all of her jam to sailors and fishermen and tourists on cruises. She did this the entire time she was pregnant.

One day Sherry was too fat and bloated and grumpy and sick and frail to make it to east side of the island to gather berries, so she laid down and popped out her baby. It took 20 minutes. She was screaming and crying and pushing and she shit all over the most beautiful and soft banana leaves you’ve ever seen. She screamed knowing no one would hear. She was sweating a few minutes into the labor, so she stripped down between contractions and let her swollen breasts plop to her armpits as she grunted and squeezed out her baby. And when she was done, she cleaned off the most beautiful, chubby bastard she’d ever seen.

This little dude had to have weighed a metric ton. He had jet-black hair that was so long it got caught in the rolls of fat on the back of his neck. His fingernails were long and he had tiny teeth growing in strange corners of his mouth. Instinctively, she plucked the teeth out and swabbed the blood. She used one knife to cut the cord, his hair, his foreskin, and his fingernails. Then she laid him down on her berry bags while she gathered her clothes.

Standing up, she was surprised to see how far she’d flung her dress, sandals, and scarf. While she was wrapping herself back up, she noted the branch she’d bitten in half, and how poetic and beautiful it looked lying next to her brand new fat little bastard, and the teeth she’d just plucked from his mouth. She finally reached back down, and grabbed him by the ankles, held him upside down using every bit of her strength and raised him until his inverted eyes met hers.

“Art.”

His name plopped from her tongue onto his ears as hard as he’d plopped from her body onto the ground. She flipped him upright and stuffed his fat, sweaty body into the bag around her shoulders and began walking home. There would be no jam delivered today. The sun was already up.

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Over time, Art stopped crying in the harness she’d crafted to hang from her back, and began giggling at the monkeys playing over head and trying to scream back at the birds who cawed and called to him on their daily journeys across the island. The silence was welcome, but the smells wouldn’t go away. The pudgy little bastard constantly smelled of vomit, shit, and sour milk. The latter of the three was due to the milk that was run down the side of his face while he breast fed, only to get caught in the rolls of fat around his neck, where it would spoil and rot in the hot afternoon sun. She loved every raw, vile, disgusting inch of his overgrown body.

She sang to him and nourished him. He loved when she’d plop his fat, naked body up and down on the berries to squash them. Five months went by as he grew fatter and fatter and his appetite was such that he was eating vegetables and fruits coated in honey and jam by the first week; and eggs, meat, and bread by the first month.

Art was a lug. She grew strong as an ox after she had him. First she thought it was just her body recovering from the brutal ten and a half month pregnancy. Then she realized that hauling his fat ass around all day was building her strength and stamina as well. She felt better, looked better, slept better, and ate better. Food tasted better from the hunger. Water felt cooler from the increased sweat. Sleep fell deeper with his heaving and snoring body lying thickly between her breasts every night. She was alive. She was well. She was whole. She wanted to share him with the world. She wanted to see more of the world to share him with.

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When the time came that she decided to leave the island, she woke up before dawn. She bundled up the fat bastard and stuffed him in the harness on her back. She broke the branches supporting her tent. She ripped the cloth she’d weaved for blankets into tiny shreds, and lit two of them on fire from her cooking flame, and she threw every belonging that she couldn’t carry into the open flames.

Every relic from Art’s father puffed into a cloud of smoke on the sand. Sherry had piled rocks in a circle around the ruins-to-be and began laughing hysterically at the abstract images she was seeing from in the smoke. Her bouncing laugher tickled Art’s fat belly, and he began to cackle and scream with joy. She watched hand-made relics and jewelry dissolve into ashes and she thought about how beautiful it was that she was beginning to forget Art’s father. She concentrated on images of him in her mind and slowly replaced those images with the face of a baboon she once saw, drunk from the spoils of a liquor bottle thrown overboard by a fisherman. The bloodshot eyes and snarling teeth mixed with a drooling sloppy stride. This was now the image of Art’s father in all of her memories.

Sherry wondered how long it would be before Art began beating that baboon in her memory. When Art’s antics and idiosyncratic tendencies would overtake those of the son of a bitch who’s seed made this magnificent, two-foot budha on her back. She knew it wouldn’t be long. Especially now. Especially since she’s leaving, and she’s never looking back.
Sherry walked away from the smoldering rubble of her life with a porky tub of ecstatic joy on her back. She crawled through the old hollow tree trunk and over the mountain of brush. She hiked to the top of the last cliff between her and the western ocean and saw cruise passengers waving goodbye to the locals. She thought of running down the cliff to catch them, but laughed at the absurdity when she considered the weight she was carrying on her back, and the danger to her precious cargo if she were to trip and fall down the hill.

Sherry took her time. She gritted her teeth and walked as fast as she could safely as she clutched all of the money she’d saved from selling jam for the past several months. She knew she had enough. If she could just make this boat, she could pay enough to get to mainland. She’d never been there, but she knew that was where Art needed to be. Not for his development, but for the world’s betterment. The world needed him. Fat, spoiled-milk-smelling, dumb-founded-looking Art. Also worth considering, she remembered, was the fact that she’d just burned everything else she ever owned. This money was useless on the island. The only reason locals gathered it was to save for a chance to one day leave. Everyone wanted to leave.

Sherry reached the bottom of the hill with a few hundred yards of hard, sun-scorched sand left to travel. She ran, chugging her chubby cargo in rhythm to her violent steps as she screamed and waved her paper money in the air. They had to stop. They had to see her. They had to.

They didn’t.

When she felt the waves crashing against her knees she also felt them slamming against her heart. It had fallen. She had missed the boat. The world needed her baby, and they were leaving without him. She was stuck.
Sobbing, she unloaded her cargo into the ocean to at least let her bloated little man feel the cool water on his skin. As soon as his body hit the ocean, her countenance changed. This fat little bastard floated. She knew immediately what to do. She stripped off her clothes and stuffed all of her money into her mouth. She shoved her baby off into the ocean and held onto him for safety.

For the first couple-hundred yards she didn’t need him. It was only when she needed to rest. She’d doggy-paddle and shove him forward. He floated on his back and whined at first, until the white-caps were behind them. Finally, she was exhausted and saw that though she was getting closer to the ship, she was no where near them yet, and she desperately needed to rest if she expected to move on. She grabbed one of Art’s ankles and his position in the water made no noticeable change.

When she put her elbows on his stomach, he sank into the water a little more, but his mouth and nose were still in the air, so she knew he’d be okay. After a few seconds, he began to sink more. Then she realized simultaneously that she was far too tired to tread water, and she would need to depend completely on him to keep her afloat, and that her body weight was just enough against his buoyancy to cause him to glide just a few inches under the water. He was kicking and trying to scream, but she couldn’t hear his voice over the thick wind, nor feel his violent protest over the constant waves. She panicked.

She shoved away from him and her depleted body sank under water. When she opened her eyes, she could see that he was floating safely above the surface, but was still hysterical from the fright. She knew that if she grabbed his leg to pull herself up, he’d begin to drown again. She also knew that if she didn’t, she would die, and he’d be left to float on his own until he either starved or was eaten by a passing shark.

In this moment she had a choice to make. A few things she knew. Sherry knew that world needed her baby. The world was unaware of how lost they were, and that her Art would show them the way. She also knew that without her help, he would never be brought before the right people. She knew that she had to guide him. She had to make difficult decisions — possibly compromising ones — in order to get him into the places she needed him to go. She also knew that if she grabbed his leg at this moment in time, he would likely die, and that if she didn’t, they both would.

Sherry spit out all of the money she had stored in her mouth. The cost of riding the ship was irrelevant now. She knew what she had to do. She closed her eyes and took a split second and she felt herself inching further away from her floating son.

She imagined her life. She remembered every sound her beautiful, fat baby had ever made. She remembered the sight of his fists clinched as he slept. She remembered the rhythm of his snoring on his stomach. She saw his laughing face, covered in thick, red berry jam as she bathed him in the ocean. She replaced all of her memories of that drunken baboon with images of his face. She watched him age. She watched the world roar with laughter at his jokes, and scream in rapturous applause his majestic beauty.

And, when she had completed her life and his in the matter of a millisecond in her mind, she opened her eyes, and reached out. She grabbed his ankle, pulled him under water, and waited for him to stop kicking. When he did, she shoved his lifeless, buoyant body back toward the ship, and let herself sink to the bottom of the ocean.

The world needed her Art; even if only to show them what they were missing without him.