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The Woman Who Slept With an Egg in Her Mouth, Hattie Hayes


There was a woman. She was tall, and she slept with an egg in her mouth.

She was tall, and her feet hung over the edge of the bed, and she slept with an egg in her mouth.

She was tall, and she read once that a golden retriever could carry an egg in its mouth without breaking the egg, because golden retrievers are gentle in a way that men have never been, and she slept with an egg in her mouth.

She was tall, but when she was a child she was the smallest in the class, and other children tripped her on the path home, and she learned to scream and throw elbows, and then all of a sudden she got tall, so she slept with an egg in her mouth.

She was tall, and she was married once, and he had gone to her school, he had tripped her on the path home, and then he was the most afraid of her, and she loved to watch him shaking so much that she married him, and he slept next to her, shaking all the time, and she slept with an egg in her mouth.

She was tall, and her husband never noticed, but she slept with an egg in her mouth.

She was tall, and when she finished school she went on a long trip, and she found that bruises didn’t fade any faster on the Riviera, and she found that the ocean wasn’t really water, it was salt with a little lubrication, and she found that even the biggest bed in the nicest hotel was not as long as her bones, which were so long, and she slept with an egg in her mouth.

She was tall, and she had forgotten her mother’s name, and she wished she had a faceless doll to clutch at night, but instead, she slept with an egg in her mouth.

She was tall, and when her husband died she missed the shaking, the terrified gallop of his heart through the rest of him, and she slept with an egg in her mouth.

She was tall, and she began to keep chickens, and she gave them all names and could tell them apart, and whenever one was eaten by a fox she wept bitterly, and she went to the side of the road and screamed, and slept with an egg in her mouth.

She was tall, and during the day she would sit in the garden and read, and she couldn’t think of any other way to spend her life, and in the summer she would make a fresh gallon of lemonade every morning , and once the lemonade was gone she would go to bed, even when it was still light out, and she would sleep with an egg in her mouth.

She was tall, but when she was a girl she slept in only her panties, and she never thought to do otherwise because she was always warm when she slept, and when she was fourteen, her father came in to wake her because the house was flooding, and he saw her naked except her baggy cotton underwear, and he was so embarrassed that he left a flannel nightgown on her dresser the next day, and she wore the nightgown from then on, no matter how old she was, no matter how tall she grew, and she slept with an egg in her mouth.

She was tall in a way that would seem extraordinary if it weren’t so sad, and you could never hear her coming because she practiced being gentle, and you must’ve known this already; after all, she slept with an egg in her mouth.

She was tall, but she dreamed every night of a woman in a shadow, and she knew it wasn’t her mother, and the only way the woman would let her sleep was if she slept with an egg in her mouth.

She was tall, and before bed she had a ritual, and she would clean her body and put on the nightgown, and she walked around the bed in a circle even when her legs were sore from tripping and falling in Milan, and before her husband she did it alone, and after his death she did it alone, and during their marriage she doesn’t remember what happened, but she knows that he died in the middle of the night, and she knows that she will too, and she walked through the house and opened every single door, even when she was at her father’s house to pack away his things, and she went into the kitchen and made sure all the knives were clean, and when she went to her room she held the egg above her head, and she always closed her eyes first, before she tucked her teeth behind her lips, and slept with an egg in her mouth.

She was tall, and once she saw a fox in the garden that wasn’t a fox at all, but something just as sharp and fast, and not hungry at all--she wasn’t sure how she sensed that, but she did, and the fact that it wasn’t hungry scared her--and the not-fox frightened her, and that night she was especially grateful that she slept with an egg in her mouth.

She was tall, and when she closed her eyes she could hear something far away, but loud, and during the day she wore glasses, even though she didn’t need them, because she wanted to keep things out of her eyes, because she was afraid to blink, because of what she would hear, afraid of whatever filled her ears when her eyes weren’t open, and at night, she took off the glasses, and she slept with an egg in her mouth.

She was tall, and she was named after her father, and he had the same name as her husband, and they never met, and she slept with an egg in her mouth.

She was tall, and she never bought books, they just appeared in her house, and she never bought bookshelves either; she just slept with an egg in her mouth.

She was tall, and whatever watched her noticed how careful she was, when she slept with an egg in her mouth.

The egg was blue, a sort of sickening pearly blue, and maybe a little too long, not like an egg anyone could recognize, and it was cool to the touch, and in the morning she put it away, and at night she put it into her mouth, and she was always surprised when they both woke up intact.

She was tall, and she slept with an egg in her mouth. I’d rather not explain why.

Hattie Jean Hayes is a writer and comedian, originally from a small town in Missouri, who now lives in New York. Her work has appeared in Belletrist Magazine, The Conium Review, Hobart, and elsewhere. She is working on her first novel.

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