We, Gorgons

by Stephanie Yu

We do it for the cameras. They film us everywhere we go. They film where we get drinks, where we work out, where we fuck. We let the cameras roll when we get our faces put on, our hair dyed, our skin spliced and stretched tightly behind our ears. They even film us where we shit, but that content is paid-subscription only.

We were born several years apart with completely different bodies and faces. Slowly, though, they have all come to resemble that of our eldest sister, Kali. She is, after all, the “hot” one. Klarissa, unfortunately, was born pale and sickly. Small tits, beak nose, weak chin. It took years for her to get to where she is today, but we hear everyone say that she looks just like Kali now, except younger.

When you have seven beautiful sisters, men are both paramount and ancillary. We tell each other, find someone rich, find someone famous, find someone who will elevate the family. But don’t lose yourself in the men. The men are just foils to show the world that we are desirable. That we are less so objects of affection than of desire, infatuation, and deep obsession. As King Kong was to Fay Wray. That is all the men do.

We create empires from nothing—fortified chewing gum, jadeite tummy rollers, pay-to-play apps that teach children how to gamble. The men enable us to produce beautiful heirs. Their births are filmed so the world can witness the power that we have and keep reproducing, over and over. A terrifying cycle that is breathtaking to behold.

We’ve heard them call us the “Gorgons.” Powerful sisters from ancient myth with snakes for hair, claws for nails, and the leathery skin of apes. These monsters live in a subterranean lair that is dank and ringed with sulfur. Their gaze is so powerful that they turn onlookers instantly to stone. They were born from spite, a goddess’s vengeance. Because of this, they are immortal. We decide that we love this nickname.

The years pass, but we age in reverse. Our audience gets older, grayer, while our lines dissolve and our skin becomes shiny and taut. Medical advancements have kept apace. Eventually, Kali loses some of her goodwill and we turn on her. She is no longer the most beautiful. She has had one too many children. We grow to despise her. We call her “octomom” behind her back. Then we tell it to her face. Klarissa ascends to the throne.

When Klarissa becomes pregnant with a girl, we throw her a lavish shower. Kali materializes, bloated and drunk, the scent of sherry trailing in her wake. Her curves, once tumescent, gone soft and flaccid. She directs all of her bile at Klarissa, tearing at her flesh and throwing fistfuls of cake, corrosive words spilling out of her wine-stained mouth.

Of course it is all filmed. Five days later, Kali is found with a slender cord around her neck, hanging from the vaulted ceiling in her kitchen. Tributes pour in and the world mourns her loss.

As is custom in our family, a death mask is cast. Kali becomes an icon. Replicas and counterfeits of the bust fetch a high price in the black market. Klarissa quietly commissions a second casting. She keeps it in a closet within a closet in her cavernous estate, accessible only by way of a trompe l’oeil bookcase. Every night, she slinks away and traces the lines of the bust with her fingers, brushing over bone and hair and jaw. High cheeks, full lips. She does the same to herself, searching for flaws, molding and pinching and sucking to mimic the image of her late sister which, frozen in death, remains the most beautiful thing she has ever seen.

Stephanie Yu lives in Los Angeles with her partner, Nate. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in 100 Word Story, BULL: Men’s Magazine, Hobart, X-R-A-Y, and elsewhere. You can find her tweeting @stfu_stephanie.
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