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On velvet nights when the air is thick and shadows dart and flicker under the globe of the moon, nights when the heat of the day clings without dissipating, the women of the village lie nude under their mosquito nets, arms and legs akimbo, until they sink into languid sleep.

Those are the nights of strange dreams, when women half-wake in their solitary beds to the touch of phantom lovers with the stickiness of the jungle on their skin.

After those nights, flat bellies swell and the women burn black manwood on the banks of the slow moving Atretochoana river. The women press their fingers against their tender abdomens, searching for the shape of what grows within.

When the women give birth some months later, it is to blind, limbless creatures. They suckle their squirming infants until the tiny, wrinkled beasts are still, sated with mother’s milk, and the mothers stroke the smooth skin of their children’s eyeless faces while they slumber.

The women of the village wrap their sleeping offspring in cassava leaves and carry them to the river where the bundles are borne away on the indolent current of the Atretochoana. They watch in silence from the shore as their serpentine babes vanish below the surface.

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