Gaga was the first word out of her mouth but unlike the other firsts in her life she had no memory of it. It was as if it had never happened.
Sometimes she wished she could gaga again, especially when she felt that lump in her throat, fat as a hardboiled egg swallowed by a snake. What did the gaga mean? The vocalisation of being. The sound of her own body. This was surprising. She did not own the gaga. It owned her, a strangled regurgitation in the oesophagus.
Later she wondered where she had lost the gaga. It must still be somewhere inside her, unless saying the word out loud had exorcised her ownership of it. She couldn’t locate it. It was submerged under other voices, by an understanding of the world as defined in dead books. She tried to shake it out of herself but she had lost the ability to wail.
Then one day, squeaking her trolley up the too-bright aisles of the supermarket she stopped at the noise of an infant, indignant with hot rage, writhing on the shiny floor. Ugly face red with tears, his rigid fists and feet kicking in a ridiculous air fight. Determined to scream the place down.
She did not know what she was doing, but in a moment of primal connection she dropped to the floor, opened her mouth and howled. Flat on her back, wearing her best green coat and high-heeled boots, her handbag splayed and spilling its contents everywhere, them and her and the boy all rolling about together. She opened her mouth and her tongue found the egg in the back of her throat. She opened her mouth and her voice came out, cracked and too high and wobbly with emotion, but hers, and she owned it.