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the devolution of vulnerability

Nonfiction, Mimi Habib

There is an inscription on my ribs, branded in blood and lymph. I can feel it glowing there, the heat you feel when you’ve been pressed against the radiator for too long.

I don’t mind letting people write there, sinuously, knife-tipped fingers dipping through my clavicle and down, down, to the fifth bone (the one on the left), where they press themselves into the sponge of my lungs like an inkpot and etch on their message. Sometimes, my heart stirs underneath - flutters, like a fox cub trapped in its earth- and they jolt or pause or ignore it, maybe steadying themself or giving me that open, enquiring look. 

Oh, that look! I beam at them with a mouthful of hot blood, choking it back into my body to be reabsorbed like a stray dog on the steaming carcass of someone else’s sheep. They continue to write, and I thank them profusely when they’ve finished for entrusting me with their words. Blood on my chin where they grip it, blood on my teeth that I can’t clean off. I lick it up eagerly when they leave. I like to get it back where it belongs, and the fresh graffiti glows in my chest with a curious sort of pride about itself. Sometimes, I bite a little to get the fresh taste, just nibbling about the fleshy part of my hands and arms. 

A beastly apparition, subsisting off itself until I can bury my bones under someone else's hands once again. 


Mimi Habib is a Bristol-based human animal that hopes, one day, to assume her proper role in the ecosystem. She has long conversations with her dogs and tends to overthink the minutiae of everyday life. Read more of her work at:


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