Sand by Jasmin Kirkbride
My rating: 4/5 cats
In that moment just after I was born, my parents filled my mouth with sand. They inserted a funnel between my lips and tipped it through. The sand trickled into the back of my throat, muffling my squeals, clustering over my tongue and toothless gums.
“Sand” is a heart-wrenching tale about generational trauma and healing.
boy, is it ever. it’s a clever, original conceit, and the descriptions of its insertion, and the discomfort of dealing with the ever-present sand in one’s mouth—it was a very vivid and squirmy-feeling experience for this reader.
in this story, the sand/baggage is an unavoidable part and process of parenthood:
There are things about parenthood you can’t really know until you’re a parent yourself – not because they put you on a higher plane of existence, just because they’re too weird or difficult to explain. The paper bag is one of them. All parents get them. One for each child. They’re white airsickness bags, with simple instructions printed on the front in navy blue and a clear, plastic funnel inside. There’s a slightly different process if you adopt – you have to send the sand to the adoption services ahead of time – but you still get sent the paper bag. It’s a whole thing. If you’re a parent too, you’ll know what I’m talking about. The instructions are pretty out there, but you follow them anyway. You spit into the bag – just you if it’s just you, but your partner too if they’re around – then you seal the bag up and leave it under your bed until it’s time for the birth.
In that time, the sand grows, mixed from your collective spittle inside it and your sleeping position over it. It absorbs your conversations, the music you play, soaks in the places you go, the friends you meet. You can’t avoid it; it’s just what happens. You can’t unseal the bag. You don’t get to see the colour or weight of the sand you have to put into your child’s mouth until they’re born. It wouldn’t matter even if you could: by that point they exist, and so the sand exists. It’s inevitable.
but just because it’s inevitable doesn’t mean that, with care and self-awareness, it can’t be modified into something less destructive, and this story ends on an unexpectedly positive and hopeful note.
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