by Mara Liddle

The eggs had been laid right on the edge of the envelope, barely visible to the human eye, and unbeknownst to their soon-to-be host. She'd been in a hurry when she'd licked it and sealed it closed, ready to post, so much that she didn't even notice the papercut until later, when she went to drink her coffee and felt a sharp sting on her tongue.

When the swelling began, she thought that perhaps the small cut had become infected. Logic told her that it was the most likely explanation - a lot went into her mouth without much thought. She would go to the pharmacy and see if she could get some medication, antibiotics maybe. She was sure it was nothing too serious.

She began to panic as the swelling got worse and worse, to the point that she was in pain when she tried to eat, talk, sometimes even just breathe. The doctor gave her more antibiotics, sure that it was just an infection or a bad reaction to something that she'd eaten, but she grew more nervous and more paranoid as her symptoms developed, she called in sick for work and hid out in her room with her cat.

After a while, she began to feel as though her tongue was moving. She wasn't sure if it was just a vivid dreamed up result of the pain and the concoction of medication, but the fear and panic it instilled in her was certainly real. Her tongue was so big now that shecouldn't even close her mouth, and her tongue rested, rippling with movement, between her lips, whistling breaths escaping around it.

She could barely tell what was real and what was her hazy drugged up dreams any more, but the pain and the panic forced her to take matters into her own hands. She felt as though there was something trapped underneath her skin, nesting beneath the tiny papercut in her tongue. She had to operate. Armed with a kitchen knife and her bathroom mirror she held her tongue between her thumb and forefinger, and made an unsteady incision. Red and black filled the bathroom sink as blood poured out, with dozens of baby cockroaches bathing in it. They crawled out of their hibernation, and the last thing she saw before she blacked out was cockroaches emerging from her swollen tongue and scuttling cheerfully away



Mara Liddle is a 20 year old writer from the Midlands, UK, whose love of writing began at a young age due to her love of children's writers such as Enid Blyton and Michael Morpurgo. Since beginning her studies of English Literature at university, her work has taken a more surreal approach, as demonstrated by her piece "Cockroaches."

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