Shifa’s love of experimental fiction and feminist theory have contributed to the conception of ‘Womb’, a serialised novel. Here’s chapter onetwothreefourfivesixseven eightnine and ten.

My beeper goes off exactly four showers later. I meet him in the same room and we leave it together, walking down the endless silent halls. We stop. He says nothing for a second, just smiles and nods his head. His hand then darts out to lay to rest on my belly. The gesture is starling, too intimate.

“Just wait to be called in,” he says.

Then he leaves me waiting outside the door.

It is an ordinary one, like all the others. It smooth white surface is freezing to the touch and gives nothing away. I stand outside and shiver, moving my weight from one foot to the other. I am in institutional garb. My hair has begun to fall out, I am skinner—and happier—than I have ever been before.

And now I am about to meet the woman who is responsible for all of it. My stomach flutters nervously at the thought. I lay a hand gently against it and smile. Some things were never meant to be mine. Somethings were meant to be sacrificed to serve the greater good. Somethings like you, I whisper, but there is no sadness. I am past sadness.

My ears pick up faint footfalls.  “Come in,” a soft voice says.

I turn the handle and the door clicks open.

I walk in.

“You,” she says simply, but without menace. Her voice is soft, her skin deeply lined. I was told her appliance would be shocking to me, but she is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

“Me,” I answer.

She holds out her arms and beckons.

“Welcome home, daughter. We’ve been waiting for you.”

I walk over. I allow her to embrace me fully and the arms that circle me are frail, bare.

“You understand why you’re here? What you’re expected to do?”

I nod.

“You understand how essential it is?”

I nod.

“And you’re completely committed to your decision?”

I nod.

“Good,” she says. “Now I have someone here to meet you. You are to explain the exact same thing to him.”

I nod.

And in walks K—.