Sunday Stories: “Monitor”


by Edy Poppy
Translated by May-Brit Akerholt

I swear, the bags under my eyes are like blisters. I should lance them. They distort my face, my eyes, they keep me awake. I’ve stolen needles from the factory. A little blue box of sewing needles. I squeeze the bag under one eye. Just a cigarette first. I take deep puffs; blow rings. A last cigarette before breakfast. Just one. Then I’ll squash the packet so the cigarettes break in the middle. Throw it at the wall. I count the stubs in the jam jar. The ones with red lipstick marks don’t count. The ones with pink lipstick marks don’t count either. Still. My pores open. I notice how my skin grows coarser, my thoughts as well. I put out the cigarette on the back of my hand. As punishment. Kunyaza, kunyaza …

I swear I can hear someone standing right outside my window, biting their nails. I squeeze the bag under one eye: as if it was only a bit of pus in my delicate skin, then I take the little blue box from my sock. I’m shivering, the needle between my fingers. I insert it, prod my skin, make small, imprecise holes, carelessly, as if the bag under my eye was a needle cushion. Then the skin finally break and the needle is sticking straight out. I Let it stay. I insert a needle under the other eye bag too. Yes. Now it’s good. 

My head feels weightless and metallic. The room smells sweet, suddenly. Almost like sperm. Until I blink. Several times, consecutively. Involuntarily. The needles fall out: useless, insensitive antennae. I try to insert new needles, prodding the holes, widening them, but my skin refuses to obey.

I remember: my nerve-endings. The sunlight making a stripe on the wall. A reindeer staring into the headlights. I remember the glow of the cigarette.

I press my face against the wall. Let it rest a little against the concrete. Cold. Then I move slowly across. The surface scrapes my skin, like an unshaven man. I stop, stare into a socket. Attracted by the two dark holes.


Criminal Code § 201 letter b.

It is proven that the accused surveyed her ex-boyfriend while she lived in the flat as well. She was sitting in an adjourning room watching the offended on a monitor.


Wait, an insect: the sound of my eyelashes beating against each other. Of the sweat running under my hair, my armpits, between my toes, my breaths when I’m holding it. I swear, when you’re alone, I mean … Forget it. I have to forget it. I mustn’t have any feelings about this. No no no. I could become randy. Have to become randy. But no feelings. Not here. And I usually don’t pick up the phone when someone calls. Not usually. Forgotten. 

I swear, I can hear the hair growing on my legs. You can see the beginning of a few red pubic hair on the top side of my underpants. I push in a finger. Look around, can’t see anyone. Feel, absence. I don’t understand why it doesn’t work anymore. It should work. I want to masturbate myself blind. Try it. Masturbate myself stupid. Retarded. Just by rubbing, just by pushing in a finger. Rotating it. Rotating. Tighten all my muscles to the point of exhaustion. Lie my head back, half-open my mouth. Imitate ecstasy. Nevertheless, nothing, nothing, just the sound of my own choices. The bones in my body snap like an old tree. And the holes in my skin feel like insect bites.

I scrape my nail against the walls of my vagina. Dry. Pull the finger out of the hole. Puts it into my mouth instead. It tastes of dust. Of dirt. Of having touched the floor too much.

Not to. I swear. Not to be wet. I’d rather go to the toilet and put water on my cunt.

There’ll be problems when they find out. Big fucking problems.

I’m tired, it’s just the body that doesn’t want to, it needs rest. I never used to be dry. Then I did it with the light on. All the lights. Even the neon light above his sewing machine. And then I photographed my sex with a polaroid camera. Sent it to an incidental name in the phonebook. Perhaps I should tell someone? 

I have to open the window. Get some fresh air in. Not pull the curtains. Not work against myself.


The accused surveyed the offended with the help of three cameras that wirelessly transmitted photographs to the monitor. She continued to survey him after she had moved out.


I pull a hair from my head, thread it through the eye of the needle. Sewing. I swear, I could’ve sewn a prick to my cunt lips. Blindly. I love the sound of things like that. Insects like that. 

Wait, someone that … I put my finger into my pants again, rub, rub, the pink nub at the very top. Perhaps it helps to talk about it? 

A cockroach scuttles across the floor, just touching my big toe. I catch it, pressing it into the wall. Hold it there. Suck my fingers, rub them on the head of my clitoris. Fast. Feverishly. All these thoughts. Let them relax while I rub. Like taking out the plug in a bathtub filled with water, or when clogged ears suddenly pop. But it doesn’t work. Nothing works anymore. I stop. Press the cockroach even harder against the wall. Discharge oozes out, and the sound I hear reminds me of eating crisp bread.


Criminal Code § 201 letter b. 

The accused has admitted that she placed a hidden camera in a decoder in the living room of the offended. Later she placed another hidden camera in the flat, this time in a television in the guest room. For Christmas the same year she gave the offended a television for her bedroom. A hidden camera was installed in the television.


I want to unstitch the seam, the one holding the scrotal pouch together, tear the balls open with the seam ripper, stitch by stitch, until all the insects inside trickle out. Is it going to happen now? The contractions of the cunt muscles? Cramp? 

No, not now. Not that. Alright then.

I’m biting my nails. I have to get my blood to circulate. Through my whole body. Get it to swell up, making my thoughts disappear. I get a mirror. A small cunt-mirror in a golden frame. I sit down on the concrete floor, spread my legs, study my grey cunt. The bat-wings. The lips trying to fly. I take thorough steps. Have to find a kind of method. I know of a Central African tribe that teaches their children how to cause a female ejaculation. Ejaculation? That’s right. Kunyaza, kunyaza, kunyaza. 


The accused has until recently worked as a seamstress in a factory, but has now lost her position because of redundancy. She claims that she obtained the monitoring equipment to have something to do.


Alone at home in his home. My cunt, that’s where I started it: heavy, dusty books. Old. With pages almost as thin as the skin under your eyes. 


“The female sex consists of the outer labia (where hair is growing) and the inner labia. The head of the clitoris is, like the male penis, built up of erectile tissues that become filled with blood when stimulated, making the sex swell up. Clitoris is larger than earlier supposed, actually as big as a medium size penis. Its only function is enjoyment and pleasure.”


Its only function is fiction. Exactly.


Criminal Code § 201 letter b. 

The accused has admitted that she watched the monitor three or four times a day.


I can’t see clearly in this cunt-mirror. The beat of the bat-wings. The egg that slides out. But I swear that I can hear it. 


However, it could not make recordings.


They say I have an illness embedded in the clitoris, or somewhere in the erectile tissues.


The Court of Appeals has accordingly arrived at the conclusion that the accused has shown a sexually offensive or other indecent behaviour especially towards the offended, but also towards others she has observed in erotically charged situations on her monitor.


A mosquito lands on my cheek. Another on my other cheek. I hit out. Something has to burn in order for it to become light. I swear, I can see the bones in my body as if in an X-ray, I can see things from the back of my head. I can … No.

I find the tweezers I’ve hidden in my shoe. Begin to pluck the hairs that grow on my legs, like weeds. I have to clean up my act, put things straight.

I crawl under the bed, get a dust bunny that’s hiding there. Am about to throw it out of the locked window, but then I get an idea. I want to take it for a walk here in my room. I give it a name: the letter b. Benny. After a while, it gets tired and wants to lie on the window sill. Join an offshoot from a plant in a cut-off plastic flask with a bit of bark and soil. It stretches towards the sunrays that force themselves through the dirty window. It smells nice when you rub your fingers on the leaves. Like sweat in the armpits, between the legs, under the scrotum.

Perhaps it would calm me down if I bite off my clitoris, embroider a tablecloth with dead nerve ends from my sex?

Wait, I think I hear a sound, almost like my eyelashes when they beat against each other. Something tickling. The hairs on my skin stand up. I feel a shadow under my skirt. I swear, it has to be cockroaches. They’re creeping up my thighs and into my hole. I lay my head back. Squeeze my legs together. Draw my eyes up, down, in, out, rotating them, drawing them to the sides. Repeating these movements again and again: up down in out. I hear nails against a blackboard. Forks against glass. The blood disappears from my ears and makes me dizzy. Then I feel a lifelessness and sticky mass between my thighs. Open up to something crushed and bloody: a scar on my white skin.


Criminal Code § 201 letter b. 

A person who undertakes something as unusual as installing hidden cameras in someone else’s apartment, has a duty to check beforehand whether this is legal.


I apply pink lipstick, pick up the squashed packet of cigarettes from the floor and light a broken cigarette. Those with a red edge don’t count. I blow smoke out of my nostrils. No other sound in the snail house. I take one puff after the other, then I put out the cigarette on the floor, lie down on the bed and pull the duvet over me. Hands on top of the duvet, my grandma used to say. I put them on top of the duvet. Pick at the yellow grain that has gathered in the corner of my eye, like dust. Study my nails, rough, small. I think about all the dead skin I’m carrying. All the dead cells. A couple of kilos, I’ve read somewhere. Then I feel something warm running between my legs. The sheet draws the urine into it and gets a nice yellow colour. I let it run. It’s so good to lie here. I think I need rest. 

I stroke my forehead, warm, pull out an eye lash. One for each day. If an eyelash loosens on its own, I can wish for something. If there’s something I would like to wish for, it’s to get my monitor and the three cameras back. 


Edy Poppy grew up on a farm in Bø, Telemark, Norway. She moved to Montpellier when she was 17, and spent several years in France, then London, where she worked with art, fashion, film and writing. In 2005 she published her first novel Anatomy.Monotony., which was translated into Italian, Finnish, German, Polish and American. It won the contest for best love story by Gyldendal. After seven years in London, Poppy moved to Berlin and later on spent several month in Buenos Aires, Lipari, Reykjavik and Rio. In 2011 she published the short story collection Coming.Apart. Its opening story, “Dungeness” was selected by the American publishing house Dalkey Archive Press to be part of their prestigious and widely distributed anthology Best European Fiction 2015. They will also be publishing Poppy’s short story collection soon.

Image: Zach Vessels/Unsplash

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