A used tampon at the bottom of a toilet, slowly seeping its blood like a miniature Rothko, can be a beautiful little sight. In Janice Galloway’s story however, a sanitary towel is jammed in a girl’s mouth to stop the flow of blood from her recently removed tooth. This is body gothic, corporeal horror: “the gum parting with a sound like uprooting potatoes”; “the roots were huge, matt like suede… Hard to accept her body had grown this thing.” As “the unstoppable redness” pools in her mouth she seeks out the white sanctuary of a school music rehearsal room and the clean sound of Mozart. But the door can’t be locked, nor the blood staunched.
From Blood, Vintage, 1991, and also The Picador Book of the New Gothic, Picador, 1991