"The Third Breast"

  • onAugust 3, 2016
  • Vol.32 Summer 2016
  • byCheon Un-yeong

Do you remember how I unwittingly pinched your nipple when I first scooped up your breasts? You let out a short shriek and laughed loudly as you wrapped your hands around my face.

“Men usually touch it with their tongues first. Don’t you think you’re a little strange?” you asked me, pausing your laughter for a second. For some reason, your words made me feel smug. You kept giggling and left your breasts to me. I felt a tightly closed door gently open at the sound of your laughter. Warm memories, confined behind the closed door, walked out. I wanted to keep playing with your breasts as I had done a long time ago with my grandma’s bosom.

Your breasts are not that pretty—I mean, at least not according to generally accepted standards. You told me the most beautiful breasts were firm, cone-shaped ones, around size 30B, with about a four-inch difference between upper and under bust measurements, the nipples facing away from each other like two sisters who don’t get along. The line connecting the collarbones and nipples should make an equilateral triangle, and the areola should be less than half an inch in circumference. Your breasts are more bowl-shaped than cone, and they are 28A, which is a little small. Your collarbones and nipples do not make an equilateral triangle, you see. Nevertheless, you have something else that is not usually seen on other people—a third breast. That’s what you called the small bump on the edge of your areola.

I thought you had made up the name, but you told me it was the official term, and listed names of famous women who had more than two breasts. You mentioned the name of a Roman emperor’s mother and the name of a woman who was the wife of Henry VIII. I don’t remember exactly who now, though. Among the many names you listed, the only one I recognized was the Venus de Milo. They say you can see Venus’s third breast if you closely examine her statue at the Louvre. It’s barely a bud without a nipple, but you said that it was clearly visible near the armpit above her right breast. When I didn’t believe you, you brought a book that had the story in it and showed it to me.

“It’s like a tailbone—the trace now extinct, though it surely existed a long time ago when humans gave birth to more than two babies. I guess I haven’t fully evolved. Still, I like this third breast—even Venus had one.”

You were so proud of your third breast. I glanced through the book while listening to you. The book was a sort of general knowledge encyclopedia that covered sundry topics in separate sections. Among them, I was most interested in the section about the mysteries of the human body. It was fun to read, with the chapters on the human eye, shoulder, and buttocks all carrying interesting photographs. While glancing through pictures of women with their breasts exposed, I stopped at the words “third breast.” As you said, the chapter listed names of people who had a third breast. It also mentioned the story about Venus de Milo. You might’ve read the following explanation as well: the third breast became grounds for accusing women of witchcraft during the Middle Ages, and witch hunters would search every inch of the body for a hidden third breast. The book also said that people believed witches had more than two nipples with which they would fed their errand boys. But of course, you’d love that, not because it was a trace of the wild but because it was the mark of a witch.

A witch’s errand boy—as soon as I read those words, I thought it would be fine for me to put my head on your chest and my mouth on your nipple like a child. If what came out of the third breast was witch’s milk, becoming an errand boy didn’t sound too bad. As a witch’s errand boy, I would have to find prey or ingredients for magic. In the meantime, I’d probably get to pick up magic. 


pp. 137–139
Translated by Ally Hwang

Author's Profile

Cheon Un-yeong’s books have been published in Chinese, Japanese, French, and Russian. She was invited to the Saint-Louis Literary Festival after the French edition of her book Farewell, Circus! (Adieu le cirque!) was published by Serge Safran Éditeur in 2013. She stayed in Malaga, Spain in 2013 as part of LTI Korea’s writing residency program. She will stay at the Residencia De Estudiantes in Madrid, Spain later this year.