I am suppressed, ill-formed, unwhole, a cruel afterthought of Nature. I am a trick played on us by Her. With three limbs to your four, I am more than appendage, but less than man. My grotesqueness emerges from your loins, miniature replicas of your head, arms, and sinister leg, yet the part that makes me man remains imprisoned inside. With webbed hands I crawl and clamber, struggling to carry myself outward, to complete my birth, to become something greater than a parasitic protrusion.
I am a failure, a half-born. Only your birth is complete.
You are Lazarus; I am the other.
In an old church, they give me the name of a headless saint, but I am unforgiving of the sin that created me, the crime you committed in robbing me of the umbilicus. While you cry out at the affusion of blessed water, I hang from your belly, screaming silent objections at Nature’s unholiness. I am the unwanted, the secondary, the half-life no one speaks for. Priests anoint me, muttering meaningless Latin at my upside-down face.
They do this out of custom, for I am nothing.
You speak for me because I am dumb. But I am not deaf.
I listen as you learn, my eyes closed in the semi-sleep of semi-being. I hear you at supper, fattening us on meat while I drool and sputter under the table. Girlish giggles reach my ears when you carry me through town, keeping my monstrosity forever hidden in the folds of your cloak. You grow clever and strong and handsome; I remain stunted in mind and body.
I am your unwanted, ever present, brother-child.
You wish me away while you sire your perfect son. I am not leaving.
I, your half-formed homunculus, am forced to lie between sweat-beaded breasts, stomachs, groins. Forced to listen to moans and feel the carryings on of man and wife without the ability to feel them the way you do. Condemned to wait out the nine months as you watch the child swell inside your wife. Our wife. My wife.
I am your first-born, yet you pay me no heed.
You carry me to kings and dangle me before them in exchange for purses of gold coins. I am perpetually on show, the silent partner in your Continental success.
I am the omphalopage in Strasbourg, the child-parasite in London, the Unmensch in Vienna. I am the frightening freak of nature to many, the glorious gift of God to few.
When you do not wish me shown, you cover me with cloth, suffocating me on your daily strolls through Columbus’ city. You keep me unseen, yet I am the reason men demand to see you.
Without me, you are nothing.
You are no more my brother.
As you sleep, I reach with three-fingered hands to the woman who shares our bed. She goes so easily, taking along the child inside her to the dark place. We are alone now. You protest with soft words when you feel my hands at your throat, smothering you as you have smothered me. Your last breath flutters in the cavity where the rest of me has lived, stolen and hidden, for thirty years. I suck the breath in, eat away at the flesh that binds us, and pull my withered, atrophied parts from your loins. I am complete; you have departed this life with no more than a hole in your side where I once was.
My birth accomplished, I am alive—if only for moments.
You are not Lazarus. I am Lazarus.
I am the one who rises from the dead.
“I Am Lazarus” was originally published May 2016 in Apocrypha & Abstractions.
Christina Dalcher weaves words and mixes morphemes from her home in the American South. Recognitions include The Bath Flash Award’s Short List, nominations for Best of the Net and Best Small Fictions, and second place in Bartleby Snopes’ Dialogue-Only Contest. Laura Bradford represents Christina’s novels, which feature a sassy and stubborn linguist with anger management issues.
You can read additional short work at http://christinadalcher.com/writing/shortsandflash/ or follow Christina @CVDalcher.