Look. Look here, at the speckling along your leg, fighting the losing fight against the gravity of your inner thigh. Like any kid, you took a Bic to your freckles and found the constellations embroidered on you. Ancestral memory on the hunt for the pattern that could unlock who you were. The Huntress. The Shivering Wolf. The Squid. The Sickle, arcing between your shoulder blades. But here, along your thighs, look. You told me it was a perfect representation of Ursa Major, the Big Dipper. You whispered it, thirsty for the cold well water it might hold.
Look. Look here, at the curve of Ursa Major, which is no great bear but instead a question mark. The all-stop to a question you don’t know or don’t want to share. I have guesses. I give you guesses, each pinging off in the dark like pebbles of hail against a tin roof. I cover that question mark with my thumb but still its weight persists. A dissonant chord awaiting resolution.
But you keep running a finger along your sides, your ribs, your back. The Old Bed. The Gravel Pit. The Unopened Gift. The Abandoned Game of Chess. You cover them as I covered that question mark. Look. Please look. You can’t erase them. You can’t.”
The fallacy is in thinking we only measure our lives in years when other currencies will do just as fine. Such as breaths and heartbeats. There are only so many we’ll experience and then that will be the end of it. How many of these pulse-quick beats thrumming in my veins have I spent now, this night, waiting for you to pick up the phone? How many cold lungfuls sitting still in my chest, unable to exhale, knowing you’re avoiding the calls or worse. How many more until the morning when I can call again to see that you made it through the night? How many spent telling you Please, don’t go?
Oh God, for one more breath.
three stories for monsters
Never knew Mother or how I burst her stomach, her poor body unable to pass the rack of horns crowning my infant head. She might have been lovely and likely didn’t deserve it at all. She lived in the estuary plain between the rivers and so I too live in the estuary plain between the rivers. The children in the nearby town dare each other to crawl through the reeds for a chance to see me and my bent spine and the nettled branches that grow like quills along my back and through my cardigans. They peek through the windows of my shack and confuse my black deer eyes for pedestrian darkness, until it’s too late. I’ve never chased them as they run screaming. They sink in the mud to their knees and are certain that death is upon them, or worse. What is it they think I will do to them that is worse than kill them? There was that hunter what killed his son by accident some winters back. Plugged him full of buckshot in the fading November light. The boy gasping there on the new snow. His own father did that, and no one runs screaming from him at the post office, I imagine.
Of course I don’t even look like that, the horns and the quills. There’s only one mirror in that house I inherited from Mother. There’s only that narrow face that stares back, looking shrunken in these too-large clothes. It’s bile on the back of my throat. I’m the monster.
I’m the monster. No one has to be afraid of me but it’s me, the monster, it’s me. All that black staring up out of me, you’d think I’d be blind for it. Holding up my pants to keep them from falling, my teeth clicking. Run a hand along my back and feel the spine pressing up through the skin, a knobbed line that might as well be quills. There’s no one who should fear me but me. And there’s nothing to fear from the things I do to myself, to me, the monster. What’s the worse that I could do? Even if it’s killing me, what could possibly be worse than that?
The ball of rot and sharpened bones and nights too light to sleep.
I’ve been teaching myself (read: bullshitting) graphic novel script format but could probably use a primer on proper form. Especially as I adapt a short story series of mine to maybe seek an artist for?
Life hack: try decomposing into dust and loam as early as possible. Beat your peers in fertilizing the trees and grasses that too are doomed to die.
Life hack: folding your hands together makes a convenient and portable curtain behind which you can cry unseen.
If nothing else, I’ve confirmed I’m still the shit human being I’ve always been.