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.