THE GROWLER

 

Clarissa  had always been mindful of her literary namesakes: Richardson’s eponymous  heroine, who zealously guarded her honour against “Mr. B.”, and Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway, who offered up a culinary feast to others but never gave of herself. Clarissa’s favourite French word was pudeur: a sort of decency and modesty of scale. She tried to import pudeur into all her doings: the way she walked and talked, the way she made love. 

Of course, the latter came to be a problem. One couldn’t abandon oneself and maintain pudeur: one couldn’t engage in a vigorous conversation while practising it, and one couldn’t be vulgar or greedy. Clarissa imagined, from time to time, that her body had a voice, and then, more specifically, that her vagina had one too. Its voice would be, she thought, in a minor key: quiet and biddable.  It might be a little hoarse and dry, since its owner required it to be washed a great deal.  But none the worse for that, Clarissa thought.

 

Things progressed in this orderly fashion for some time. Then, gradually, Clarissa began to hear a real voice issuing from down below. She must be imagining it: but just in case, she began to wear stouter knickers that operated as a sort of baffle. When she took the big knickers off off, the voice started to get really troublesome and loud: “thank  fuck for that! At least I can breathe! What are you wearing, the 18-hour Playtex Panty?” 

 

“Be quiet!” said Clarissa aloud, realising that she was quarrelling with an organ which normally didn’t have a tongue or teeth. But the vagina would not be silenced. It (or she, perhaps) started to shout in an improper manner: “I don’t think much of your latest chap! Not reliable! Tires easily! He doesn’t know how to play muscular tennis! Get rid of him, and bring in someone like Jason Mamoa!”

 

That last was shouted very loudly. In desperation, Clarissa tried to bargain with her recalcitrant vagina, and said “perhaps we might get on better if you told me your name?” Out came a high-decibel roar: “my name is The Growler.”

 

The Growler had clear likes and dislikes. It liked the temperate zones, warm and moist: it disliked the desert. It hated condoms. It only liked medium-sized penises. It did not believe in saying “please” and “thank you”.  Worst of all, it seemed to be at war with Clarissa’s  clitoris, which it regarded as its property, and which it disparaged by saying that it was just a glorified snood.  Clarissa began to dread the day when the clitoris developed its own voice too. It would have a shriller tone, perhaps. They would yell at each other all day long. 

 

What to do? Clarissa longed for some peace and quiet. She bought some tampons, and inserted one. It provided a good muffling effect. With a Super Tampon, the stout knickers and some corduroy trousers, the noise was infinitesimal. To be sure, when she took the clothes off and removed the tampon, a deafening scream rent the air. But if she took care where she disrobed, no-one would hear the yelling Growler, and she could return to her life of dignity and calm once more.

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© 2020 by Sue Harper

feminist gothic literature | tales of the macabre | fantastic and supernatural | gothic fiction | written by women | gothic literary tradition | gothic fiction | supernatural | fantastic and paranoia | literary female gothic | gothic narrative | stories of transformation and surprise | sue harper | short stories | feminist gothic literature | The Dark Nest | portsmouth university | emeritus professor sue harper | feminist gothic literature | tales of the macabre | fantastic and supernatural | gothic fiction | written by women | gothic literary tradition | gothic fiction | outstanding achievement award | british association of film, theatre and television | professor of film history at portsmouth university | film, media and creative arts | british academy and the arts and humanities research council | stories of transformation and surprise | sue harper | short stories | feminist gothic literature | The Dark Nest |