“How can you grapple with what consumes you?” She asks, her face creasing in bemusement.
I had said the phrase with such pride, deep resonance and high self-importance that it had taken a beat to process. The pause had sat, extending and becoming fully 9 months pregnant and dilated. But then she had reflected and realised.
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“I must grapple with what consumes me.” I said again, less confidently this time - self doubt starting to creep in as sweat sensed its chance and started to accumulate on my neck and forehead.
“But that’s ridiculous - if you’re being consumed by something, then surely you have no chance of grappling with it. You’re already halfway down its throat.”
“Um… I intend to wrestle with its tonsils and make good my escape from consumption.”
“So this strange creature that consumes you is allowing you a chance to grapple with it - odd monster indeed.”
“Yes,” I said, undeservedly gaining in confidence now, “I’ll aim punches at the back of its throat and dig my nails into its side. I will not relent!” I raise a proud hand in intent. “I will make the beast succumb!”
“Ridiculous,” she says, “surely you grapple with it beforehand. Because if it has consumed you, then you’re already being digested and there’s nothing left to grapple with.”
Things get tense. “Aha,” I wag a knowing finger, “I have not been consumed just yet, I am in the process of being consumed. It’s never too late to grapple until you’re swallowed whole.”
“Hm,” she pause, “but surely a grapple is between two foes with equal footing, not while one is being devoured by a slimy tongue and teeth.”
I see the monster now in her eye, a terrible thing, green and toothy - reptilian, amphibious - whatever has more ominousness for her. Inescapable and scaly, squat and broad but fast and fleet. To grapple with such a thing is not lightly done, especially when its tongue is around you and your head is being clubbed by its tonsils. But still I must persist - until hope’s candle is truly doused and I am bubbling among the rat carcasses and stomach acid.