free web
Baring by Hananah Zaheer | Word Riot
Flash Fiction

February 15, 2013      

Baring by Hananah Zaheer

Listen to a reading of “Baring” by Hananah Zaheer.

When her husband of twenty years refused to sleep with her, she understood. It was the sort of thing she expected from marriage. But when her boyfriend picked up his clothes and left her naked on the guestroom bed, she was concerned. When he cited discomfort as the reason, she assumed it had to do with her form—and decided to change it. The next morning, she stood naked in front of the mirror, studying herself from all sides. Her breasts were small but firm, having been spared the rigors of breastfeeding. Her round hips sat pleasantly above legs that, although not of the long variety that his wife possessed, were attractive. She could see though, how three failed pregnancies had left her middle looser than he would have liked. Taking a knife, she cut into her flesh, dismissing the blood that trickled down her legs, and sliced away a slab of herself.
     The next time she saw him, she was sure that he would like the change she had made, but he was even more reticent than before; he kept his underwear on and made only halfhearted attempts to relieve her of hers. The next day, she examined herself in the mirror again, then sliced off the excess from her arms, which she had rather liked, and her hips. When he returned, he kept his shirt on, said he was in a hurry. Later, she spent long hours in front of the mirror, studying her reflection, trying to figure out what else she could remove. Her body was a bleeding wound, and she often gasped when a rush of air hit some part of her insides. Perhaps, she thought, the rest of her flesh reminded him of how grotesque she used to be, so she cut off her breasts, sorry as she was to see them fall to the floor. Then, slowly, the sides of her face. It was for him, she told herself, but the truth was that having started, she had developed a taste for the knife, for the relief that came with letting pieces of her shed. She recalled their past interactions, dissecting each caress from him with razor sharp focus, and sliced off bits of herself that had not seemed to fit well in his hands.
     He returned, as he always did; his advances less and less amorous. She displayed her new form to him like a child showing off a new toy.
     One day he returned and she stood before him, relieved of flesh entirely, her organs visible through the bones. The body she had been so proud of and taken great care to preserve now gone. Flesh hung in tatters from her ribcage and jaw, and her eyes—no longer draped with lids— sat empty in their sockets. This was her ultimate declaration—she was his. He sat in front of her in his suit, loosened his tie and took her bony fingers in his hands. He thought, he said, that he had made a mistake after all. His wife, he said, was having a baby. He seemed afraid to look at her, drawing lines where her palm used to be. And she sat, her insides oozing out from between her bones, watching as he walked away.

734115_10152404609555195_2140739302_nAbout the author:

Hananah Zaheer is a lover of average coffee, an avid student of people, and a collector of books. She has an MFA in creative writing, and spends her time teaching, writing, and lamenting about the lack of time in a day. She can also be found at

    5 comments to Baring by Hananah Zaheer

    • A

      Great read. Love how you wrote this…image of the woman “cutting off pieces of herself” really hit the point home

    • I loved this story. It’s strong and powerful. Well written. I can see it happening in front of me.
      I hope one day I will be able to write something as beautiful as this.
      Good job!

    • Jane

      This is so powerful and disturbing. Wow. Please keep writing – not that any of us are ever going to stop – you are truly gifted.

    • R.L. Henry

      This is an excellent piece of writing! I admire the way in which you tell a story and make it grab the reader and not let go. The way you bring the character to life is amazing, I was very captivated and moved by this. I look forward to reading more of your work. I will definitely be checking out your website.

    Leave a Reply

    You can use these HTML tags

    <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>




    Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.