She has no mouth. She was born without it: it was never there. She has a blank flat of skin where a mouth should be. She feeds through a tube to her stomach, ingesting what others have determined is an ideal diet. She does not speak.
Behind the cover of pink-beige-white, she has teeth and a tongue and a soft and a hard palate, and a uvula. She has a larynx. This is what the X-rays show.
There’s nothing wrong with her, besides a deficiency of lips, the doctor says.
The doctor talks to the mother through the girl, the same way most people talk about her, like she is not present.
It would be a simple procedure, the doctor says.
When the mother shakes her head, the doctor frowns.
I used to be the same, her mother says, when I was young.
The doctor sighs. He offers up a hand and tells her not to worry, that the girl may yet grow a mouth and a voice.
And she does.
But when she does, she finds the ears of those around her filled with cotton wool and fingers.
[Feature image by India van Didden, 2016. Reproduced with permission]