Cymothoa Exigua

by Christopher Battle Read author interview June 15, 2007
story art

I pray for Cymothoa exigua to come for my tongue.

Here time is not measured in days and weeks. It is measured in the compression waves through the steel girders above my house. The bridge up there, shivering, is the clock.

My house is one story, on a small plot. It is a dark and cluttered story. I can’t think because of the noise from the television. There’s so much inside.

I wrap rubber bands around the base of my tongue. It is swollen and purple, strangling at the top of my throat. My taste buds are rough like a topographical map. I can feel places on them, through them.

Please come for my tongue.

I drink water constantly to keep my mouth moist, so it’ll be a nice home. I dream about an isopod menagerie, made of glass. My proxy tongue is there, quiet and resting, undisturbed by the slithering.

Please come. I’m hungry. I can’t speak. I’ve wasted so many words. Nothing new comes out of my mouth. Give me a new language. If I can articulate I can have. And the particles of want will feed you.

It’s not happiness, it’s transformation. When Cymothoa devours my tongue and settles in its place, there won’t be misspoken words anymore. My new tongue will have eyes and it will be very careful when it moves. Then I can leave what I’ve done behind.

The bridge is my clock. I’m waiting.

Take my tongue so that I can speak for the first time.

About the Author:

Christopher Battle is from Texas but is currently working on a Masters at the Universitaet van Amsterdam. He's had stories published in SmokeLong Quarterly, Storyglossia, edificeWRECKED, Thieves Jargon, and Outsider Ink.