by Joy Lanzendorfer


The woman’s personality wouldn’t stay inside her. She vomited it into the corner of the literary gathering, a gush flowing out of her and behind the ship-shaped bar. She tried to clamp it down. When someone asked her a question, she attempted to answer in a neat trickle, but when she opened her mouth, her personality spurted out in a hot stream like water from a fire hose. She shut her mouth and her personality bubbled up behind her eyes and dribbled out her ears.

The woman’s personality was a sea inside her, infinitely expanding within the chamber of her body. There was always more of it. It rose and rose, splashing against her like a tidal wave. People couldn’t help but notice. It was embarrassing. She was always wiping a bit of it away. She would like to have a personality that was quieter, smaller, like a soft bunny, or neat and orderly, like a Rubik’s Cube tucked inside, twisting to different colors. Instead, she sprayed her personality around the room like a dog marking its track. She always wanted to apologize for it, but mostly she tried to pretend it wasn’t there.

The trouble was the build up. The more the woman locked down, the more the pressure built inside her. If she were a man, she could regulate it so that her personality could come out in a steady stream, and then, perhaps, the pressure would cease. The personality would have room to flow in and out of her, easy and calm and sparkling like a sequin gown. It would butt gently up against the land of other people then, flowing around them, without any trouble. And they would look at it and think, what a thing of beauty.