I want to show them — but no. It doesn’t help.
It has no nexus, no focal point. There is no hotspot of spiders, no stray transdimensional portal or lesion.
And if there were?
I hold back. I walk slower, or I pass. I cross the street. I get my face away so that you don’t have to see it. I know that you’re afraid. I know you’re afraid of me.
I didn’t — I’m not here to mess with you.
Let me start over.
They make ‘em big where I’m from.
I’m gentle and clumsy and wouldn’t dream of hurting you.
I can palm a basketball, now isn’t that interesting? Here’s another one:
My feet grew two, three sizes real quick when I was about ten years old. So fast that when I took my shoes off to stick my foot in that horrifying slidy foot-sizing contraption, the three middle toes of each foot had all bent permanently outward at perverse, whiskery angles from trying to fit into my too-small shoes. I honestly don’t remember anything about how my feet got that way, but my family sure was horrified and gobsmacked.
I’ve been taller than both my parents since the age of 12. My mom’s about an inch taller than my dad. Funny how little I think about them both in the same sentence.
Do I seem like a person to you yet?
When I was 12 someone told me I wouldn’t make it on a bike ride, and they were right, I didn’t. That’s when I started trying to disappear.
For four years I didn’t eat anything bigger than a cube of cheese if I didn’t have to, i.e., if the eyes of others were not upon me. Couple this with the hours of PLODDING and GALLOPING I could manage in my 70s aquamarine and seafoam shag-carpeted bedroom and before you knew it I was falling asleep in class and hardly there anymore.
But there is no anorexia for being too tall, and that is why I
Shoulders hopefully not permanently slung around themselves, cervical vertebrae stacked like plates about to break in a dishroom comedy of errors. “You really ought to stop slouching,” my mother would say. “You should really watch out for your posture.”
BUT MOTHER, I might have said, HOW CAN I GO ON HATING MYSELF IF I HAVE PERFECT POSTURE?
I shake my head back and forth really hard a lot. There’s a permanent knot or as I like to think of it HISSING PIT OF SHIT VIPERS right in the middle of my neck from 20 years of slouching. Sometimes I lay flat on my back just trying to ease any of this tension for 2 or more hours a day, and you know what, it all just snaps back right into horrible malformation the next day.
You know I can only talk like this because none of you are here to see me. If you were here, I would long since have folded myself into an elaborate pretzel shape propped up in some inauspicious corner where I might least offend. If you were here…
Golly. If you were here. What would the monster show you in his cage?
There is some Tarot art, and some pictures I have colored. There are some Christmas lights and some crystals. Books, a few, the ones that don’t make good discussion objects. There is the feeling that no one gets to make me feel bad here, and also lots of daddy longlegs.
I swept away daddy longlegs for days. I pinned up a black scarf over the half window where they liked to live, and now they only live in the thin sliver of light the scarf doesn’t cover. Half a solution. Mostly a constriction.
Like fresh-cut grass pressed in a waffle maker. That’s what me hurting you would be like. It wouldn’t do anything, and it wouldn’t happen. Does that stop the panic in your blue eyes?
It does not.
She’s far ahead, talking on the phone, walking up the same side of the street as me the same way. Far ahead. I think I am safe. I think she can’t think the monster will get her.
It is not safe. She keeps turning around and eyeing me. Eventually she stops dead, turns all the way around and just stares. She is inert, disgusted with my progress, still talking on the phone. I get within maybe a block and she abruptly crosses the street cockeyed, glowering the whole way, a blast of cold air coming off her in the middle of the raspy July heat.
Somehow I never wonder if she is the monster.
What are you doing here? their eyes ask. Who said you could be here? I never feel authentic. I never feel as though I belong. I can tell you are some kind of pre-vert, their eyes say. You are not getting hold of my babies.
A hundred times? A thousand? Who can say how many myths I’ve started? Who can say what land beast I mightn’t be, long arms and shock of neon hair the very stuff of bad dreams? Who is comforting and who is comforted?
There was just something about him.
I don’t want your kids. In any sense of the word.
I will smile at them, though, especially if they look a little apprehensive and I don’t think you’ll actually hurt me. Little kids need to know that monsters can smile. In both senses you could take it.
Whether or not you ought to trust a man is not a function of whether or not he is a monster.