Wanna Hear A Story?
In the beginning, there was a young girl, brought into a great big world.
Throughout the girl’s life, she tended to distance herself from others.
She did not know how to approach people, and not feel as if she was being strangled to stop the words from leaving.
The very few words she spoke were hushed and full of stutters and uncertainty.
The girl didn’t mind the solitude but it got lonely.
As the loneliness grew and grew the more she sank inside her head.
The girl began to wonder when had she ever had a smile on her face.
She wondered about the times she wasn’t always caught up in the small things.
She wondered about a time she wasn’t always overthinking her life.
She wondered if she was a likable person or somebody that nobody likes.
She wondered when did she start to question her worth.
She wondered when the last time she was happy and she wasn’t acting.
She wondered why, when she felt emotions she always masked them.
She wondered what happened to her.
All these thoughts overwhelmed her,
and slowly ever so slowly they took over.
Making a monster inside of her head.
But nobody knew because she was such a good actor.
The mask she always wore hid the monster deep within.
And I’ve tried to take it off but it’s glued to my skin.
The Green-Eyed Monster
What does he have that I don’t? I thought as I climbed onto the bus. We went to the same school, got the same grades. Why does he get to be Mr. Big Shot and I’m stuck in a dead-end retail job?
I plopped down in an empty seat and stared out the window. I knew it wasn’t a good idea to go on social media during my lunch break, but I had done it anyway. And who should show up on my feed but Devon “I’m better than you” Myers? We had graduated together – same class, same field. Only, he had managed to get a full-time job in that field with decent pay and room for upward movement while I was still stuck in the same part-time job I had worked all through college.
“It’s not fair,” I muttered to myself.
“Not fair, you say?” I looked up at the voice that addressed me and immediately recoiled. Standing in the aisle in the middle of the bus was . . . a monster. There was no other way to describe it. It was lime green and oozing slime. Its eyes stuck out above its head from thin little stalks and it looked remarkably like Jell-O when it moved. “Is this seat taken?”
On pure instinct, I shook my head and then instantly regretted it when the thing sat down beside me. I looked around at the other people on the bus. Why was no one bothered by this monster? Why was no one screaming? But no one acted as though there was anything out of the ordinary. Was I the only one who could see him?
“Now, what is it that is so unfair?” the oily voice asked me.
I hesitated for a moment but finally decided that I needed someone to vent to. Why not this thing? It couldn’t hurt. So, I told it everything. I told it how hard I had worked, how passionate I was, how much I wanted so much more than what I had.
“But what is it that you want?” the thing asked.
“I want everything that Devon Myers has. I’m stuck, going nowhere fast, and he’s on the fast track to Easy Street! He’s got a good job, a decent car, a nice house, a gorgeous girlfriend, and all I’ve got is my parents’ basement and this lousy bus.”
“You’re right,” the monster said, but its voice sounded different. It sounded much more . . . human. Or maybe I was just getting used to it. “That doesn’t sound very fair at all.”
“It’s not!” As I exclaimed, I felt something catch in my throat. I coughed hard, but it didn’t seem to want to move. Speaking wasn’t particularly comfortable and my voice didn't sound right, but I was on a roll and finally had someone who agreed with me. “I worked just as hard as Devon, probably harder. Why should he get all that stuff?”
“I couldn’t agree more!” the monster encouraged.
I tried smiling at him, but my face didn’t feel quite right. It felt droopy and damp – slimy almost. Was I getting sick? Wouldn’t that just be the icing on the cake? “I should be the one to have all of that, not him!” I continued. “I should have that job, that car, that house! It should be mine!”
The monster put a hand on my shoulder. I looked down at it and suddenly realized that it was, indeed, a hand. Not a lime green slimy appendage, but a human hand. I looked at him in surprise and realized that there was no longer a monster sitting next to me, but a normal-looking man, perhaps ten years my senior.
“Thanks,” the man said. “And sorry.”
The bus stopped, and he got off. What did he mean by that? And what happened to that monster? I shook my head to clear it and looked back out the window, but my reflection caught my eye. Except, it wasn’t my face that I saw. “Oh, god.” Suddenly, I knew what happened to the monster.
Her Monsters Called To Mine
He looked at her from across the candlelit dinner table. Her blushing cheeks so beautiful and alluring in the soft, warm light of the restaurant as soft music played from the live band. He had waited so long for this moment, and it was finally here. He fingered the little velvet box in his jacket pocket, thinking of the moment he saw it glinting in the glass case at the jewelry store. It was perfect, just like her. But now that it was time for the big event to take place, his legs seemed to have turned to jelly, and his heart was pounding in his chest.
What if she said no?
What if she says yes?
What if this all turned out to be a wonderful dream, and he would wake up the moment before it happened?
"My love, are you alright?" Her delicate hand had reached out to him, gently squeezing his arm, "You look so pale. Are you sick?" "No, dearest!" He said a little to boisterously. Clearing his throat, he tried again, "Excuse me, no, I'm just fine. A little warm in here is all." She smiled so brightly and compassionately, "Then, let's go to the balcony for a moment. Our food won't be here for a few minutes." Balcony. Right. All he had to do was stand up and not immediately fall to the floor from nervousness.
She intwined her arm in his and the walked together through the open french doors out onto the antique, but well-kept wooden balcony that overlooked the ocean below, the sun already turned darker shades of orange as it slowly sunk beneath the horizon. "... out here, isn't it. My love?" He gave himself a little shake, "I'm so sorry, dearest, my head was elsewhere." She giggled softly, kissing him on the cheek, "I said, do you feel better out here?" "Y-yes," he stammered, "In fact, this is probably the happiest I've ever been, and I... I want to make it last forever." She narrowed her eyes in confusion, "What do you mean?"
This was it.
This was the moment he had dreamed about for so long.
He took her hand as his other reached into his jacket pocket, pulling out the little black box. He sunk down to one knee, and he watched as her face slowly turned from confusion to total surprise and wonder, a small gasp escaping her lips. "I have loved you for so long, and I want you in my life forever. Will you marry me?" He opened the box to reveal a glimmering princess cut diamond ring that shone bright with the colors of the setting sun.
Her eyes began to swim with tears. She couldn't look him in the eye. His heart was quickly sinking. This isn't at all what he expected, "My dearest, are you-" "My love, please stand up. I have to tell you something." He didn't rise at first, but begrudgingly came to his feet, "I don't... I don't understand. I thought you wanted this, too." "I do!" She began to wail, "I'm so sorry. I didn't expect you to do this tonight. He was going to tell you, but I've been so ashamed." "My dearest, whatever it could possibly be, I will never stop loving you!" "But you will!" The tense silence could be cut with a knife.
She hung her head, the tears now openly falling, "I've been keeping a horrible secret from you. Because I know when I tell you that you won't love me anymore. You'll never want to see me, again." So many scenarios flashed through his head as his heart pounded in his ears. He surprised himself to see that he was actually starting to get angry, " What is it? Tell me now."
She kissed his hands and his cheek, then took a step backward away from him. She reached her beautiful hands up, which had held his so many times, and ripped away her face. Like water boiling over the edge of a pot, a black, shiny mass poured out of her skin suit, tearing it away like tissue paper. Her golden hair fell in golden heaps to reveal large antennae, her ears adorned with dangling earrings fell away to a grotesquely small head with hundreds of beady black eyes. A large, solid black armored body rose up above him like a cockroach emerging from its dark hiding place. Six, long, spidery legs emerged from her sides, stretching out from being cramped against her body.
His heart was about to burst in my chest. All he could do was gap open-mouthed at her towering form, unable to move or say a word. When she spoke, it was a reedy rasp like a sharp wind through haunted trees, "Now you know! This is my true form! Just go, my love. My heart will always belong to you." The large roach-like insect fell down to its belly and began to quickly scamper across the balcony through the screaming onlookers as it began to climb down the support beams out to sea.
"Wait!" He suddenly shouted. She felt a hand grab onto one of her back legs. He was leaned far over the railing, desperately clinging to her, his eyes begging her to stay, "Please... don't leave." Her many eyes widened, reflecting his enigmatic face. She slowly crawled back onto the balcony, careful to make sure he didn't slip and fall. He wrapped both his hands around her foreleg, because that was all he could reach, "My dearest... I am very surprised to see your true form, and i love you all the more for it." She gasped, bringing her free leg to her pincers, "My love... but... I don't-" "Please," he insisted, "I'm surprised at your appearance, but not because you're not human. It's because... because..."
In a flurry of passion, he reached behind his left ear and pulled at the hidden zipper. His flesh suit falling away as his green, slimy scaled body rippled and tore out of his false skin. Fangs glistened with venom dripping from his open maw and horns curling behind pointed ears. At the sight of him, she reared back in shock, bracing herself against the balcony railing, "But! You're a-!" He nodded, "I am your species sworn enemy." "A Cthu'th'blrgd! But I should have known! A Skive can recognize a Cthu'th'blrgd from a light year away!" He stepped forward and took her hand, "Unless he shielded his light essence using a flux capacitor rigged with a neo-hydralux cylinder power core."
She blushed, "Oh, I... um... Have you been following me?"
He took her hairy forelimbs into his serrated claws, "Yes, my dearest, from the rings of Saturn to the moons of Malkizadar's fourth star, I have pursued you... because... because I love you more than you can ever possibly know." She embraced him, resting her head on his neck pouch, "But our families... they will never understand. We can never return home." He lifted her face towards him, careful not to drip venom into her many beautiful black eyes, "All i need in this universe is to know that you love me, too." "I do!" she shouted, clicking her pincers excitedly, "I love you more deeply than all the oceans of the Prism galaxy!" A tear of acid glistened against his cheek, "Then I have everything I need."
Once again he knelt down to one knee, showing her the princess diamond ring which now spakled with the last rays of twilight, reflecting all the stars and galaxies he crossed to be with her, "Will you marry me and create a hybrid spawn to consume this world and the next?" Her many eyes burst with tears of joy, "Yes! I will! I will marry you!"
In the usual custom, he sank his fangs deep into her back joint as she consumed part of his life force to show that they were one entity before the Old Gods. They lived over 100,000 years of perfect ecstasy, consuming all organic matter and creating zombified slaves of the human race. They gave birth to millions of hybrid offspring atrocities that drank blood and spat venom, watched as they flew out into the universe to consume other worlds, their parents fiercely proud. And as the Earth burned in sulfuric gas hellfire, all trace of humanity and creation obliterated, he took his love into his arms and whispered into her ear, "Let's do it all again. I would live all my lifetimes with you." Her head cradled against his chest crest, careful not to impale herself, "Yes, my love, let's live a thousand lifetimes again." And claw in foreleg, they left the Earth as the planet imploded and burst into a million glittering pieces as they flew out into the great unknown.
She has two faces, two voices, one on each side of her head
as if she's someone else
when she turns her back;
she laughs at your nuance
and strikes with the virile gleam of her grin
that tells you
"I could never be like that"
that being her back turned and staring you down
with eyes rimmed in the old crust
of everything they couldn't cry out
and the stare pulls you down deep
or she'll be sweet and lovely
pour your tea and offer sugar, cream,
what would you like with that?
she smiles so much her cheeks don't even
until she turns her back and stabs you hard
and you know, somehow, that this is something else
being something it's not
because on this side, she's a
whichever definition of the word you happen to use,
she's all bad
and that's her secret
She laughs and smiles with you in the light of day
and tells you, "don't worry,
you're a good one,
you could never be as evil as my counterpart
because you're on the right side"
and you never realize she's the monster too
until it's too late
and both faces are staring you down
(one eye dripping drowning sorrow
one eye crazed in its joy)
and you realize
she's all the same person
and that means she was lying to you;
you're not a "good one"
you're just a person
and you can be as evil as she can
so you'd rather keep things binary,
(she grins and winks, she's done her job well)
A meeting with Self
Hello? Is anybody there?
Yes, I'm the one you've been looking for. Now let me ask you something, do you know who I am or this one would be better I guess; do you recognise me at all?
No, I don't so how about introductions hmm, sounds fair cause you really are getting on my nerves, so my advice to you would be; just be quick about it and get the hell away from here!
Why? Are you scared of what you might here from me?
Why on earth would I be scared of a moreon like you? Tell me!?
Because I am you. Or if i'm being precise here, I'm the ugly version of you, something of your own making and now you expect me to vanish into thin air? Not that simple dear
Can anyone take this clown away from here? Anyone up for the job? Anyone!!!!????
They won't be able to hear you?
Why are you a magician? Did you put them under some kind of spell in order for them to lose their senses?
You don't possess such a quality so how can I?
All right then, Prove it, prove it to me that 'you' are 'me' or some kind of version of me.
Now you're getting it right I'm one version of you, there might be others as well but I think what really matters is that how really came into existence but I warn you that this might be a little difficult for you
How about you enlighten me
It'll be like taking a walk but not in park but somewhere dark
ooohhh I'm scared and where exactly will I be taking this walk
In your worst nightmares except the fact that you'll be awake and you'll be reliving your worst memories, it will be as if you're there right now and trust me you don't want to go there.
All right enough of this nonsense just tell how to get rid you
It's quite simple actually; start visiting all your worst memories but once you start you can't stop or you'll remain trapped in your own mind for eternity
Ok, tell me one thing what part of me or what part of my consience made you?
Your fear, doubts, traumas, this all must be sounding familiar but what about the lies or what you hid from the rest of the world? It haunts you, doesn't it? Till this day it haunts you right? You thought you'll get rid of all that? But no, your efforts to suppress everything has made matters worse.
Then tell me what am I suppose to do? There has to be a way to get rid of all this, this mess I made.
My friend you created an entire mountain out of messes such as that one, maybe a few of those were far worse.
What am I suppose to do?
'Find me' and with that my reflection, wait I don't know what it was but it vanished, and till this day I'm searching for it, I know I might sound crazy but believe me they are the only ones that could tell me where to look and how to fix all this mess
I am not a monster
I am not a monster. I used to be a man. A beautiful, desirable, decidedly human man. Broad shouldered. Thick lipped. Smooth voiced. What am I now? I cannot say. Perhaps I should start at the beginning. Better yet, let me start at the middle. On the day I first noticed the changes.
I remember the morning it happened. Well, the morning I noticed it had already happened. Gray skies without, white wisps of warm tea within. I’d singed my tongue sipping too quickly. It tasted bitter that day, no matter how much honey and sugar I put in it. My wife usually made it for me, she had a knack for preparing it just so, but she’d been busy that morning with the children. I’d spilled some tea on the side and began lapping it up with a thick, red tongue. Only, my tongue is normally pink, and normal sized. And I never lapped up anything. I was running late for a zoom call, so I dismissed the anomaly and ambled to my chair. It groaned a bit louder as I sat, but at the time I hardly noticed. As the days went on, I began to notice more and more.
First came the nails. They grew long and sharp, pointed and grey at the tips. I began cutting through my shoes, though I hardly ever wore them anymore. I ruined my favorite slippers. I ordered a second pair, a bit larger, and made a mental note to trim my nails--that never came to fruition.
Next were the itches. My skin began to bloat and peel around the middle, under my arms, and at my back. I’d scritch and scratch until my skin tore. Then came the sweats. Laundry became a nightmare as I soaked through shirt after shirt. My wife began to complain. I was leaving dark, dirty stains and smells that she couldn’t get out. I promised to bathe more frequently.
Things took a turn for the worse when the vines came. They started out small. Little green sprouts at my feet. They tickled my toes as I worked, seemed harmless. But they grew. Longer, thicker, malignant. They soon began to coil around my ankles, my torso, and at times, my throat. I could hardly breathe, hardly move. My wife was busy with the kids, busy with her work, but she came to the office more frequently to help me with the vines. She came with shears, tore the vines, pulled me from my chair, begged me to walk. The vines were vicious, though. They came after me as soon as my wife left, pulling me back down to the chair. Eventually, I got used to them, except when they cut off my air supply. It made zoom calls a bit awkward.
Virtual meetings were bad sometimes, but bedtime was downright humiliating. Dark faeries followed me to the room, born from the bloom of the vines. They didn’t carry the tinny, sweet voices of childhood stories. They screeched as loud as banshees while I slept, and tormented me throughout the night. They crawled and stomped on my face. Sometimes they’d lodge their limbs into my nose and ears and give me quite a shock. My wife would shoo them away at night. She started burning mist to ward off the faeries, but they were relentless. Eventually I was cast out of the bedroom, so at least one of us could sleep.
There’s nothing more disgraceful than sleeping in the guest room of your own house. Though she never said the words out loud, I saw them in my wife’s eyes. More and more, I was becoming a stranger to her. She recoiled at my touch. She shied away when I drew near. Her eyes and shoulders sagged lower every day, weighed down by my peculiar troubles.
More changes came. I became as ravenous as a lion, with an insatiable appetite. Plates could never be full enough, cups ran dry too quickly, and though my body gorged my cravings never ceased. By some dark magic, my food did not, could not, satisfy me. My wife tried different potions and concoctions, some I rather enjoyed, but she could never quite keep up with my demands. So I strayed. I ate things high in deliciousness and dangerously low in nutrition in between regular meal times. I would have made the potions myself, but the vines kept me tied to my chair, and struggling against them left me with so little energy. They cut off the circulation at my feet, and those began to swell. Climbing, walking, moving, standing, they soon became unbearable tasks. So I did those things as infrequently as possible.
I had to order a new chair. Spikes began protruding from my spine. I don’t know when they arrived, but they riddled my chair with holes and mauled the leather. It didn’t stop there. Needle sharp spines shot out of the backs of my hands and chin as well, some the length of my longest finger. About that time, my children grew afraid of me. Fear shone in my wife’s eyes as well, but hers was different.
My voice began to change. It was no longer smooth, but rough as sandpaper. More faeries arrived at night. The vines grew stronger, so strong that at times my wife spent all her strength cutting the one crushing my windpipe, and had none left to cut me free. I take back what I said. There are worse things than sleeping in your guest room. Sleeping in your office chair, immobile and vulnerable, and asking your wife to hold a cup or bottle for you when you can no longer hold in your waste. That is misery.
Things have been this way for nearly a year now. I fear that whatever has taken hold of me will soon devour me entirely. At times, I pray the end would come. I no longer wish to be a burden on my family. I can’t remember the last time I held my children. The last time I embraced my wife. The last time I felt the warmth of human touch.
Here comes my wife now, with another round of potion. Bless her, but she seems tired. Dark circles mar the caramel skin below her eyes, but she’s still beautiful. Her clothes are mismatched. Red shirt, green and yellow yoga pants, sharp toenails sticking out of one blue and one green sock . . . Sharp toenails. I look up at my wife again. She runs a hand through her mop of dark curls as she waits for me to finish my potion. I take my time, examining her from top to bottom. She’s altered, somewhat. Heavier, yes. With signs of sweat at the armpits of her shirt. She sits in a chair, next to mine. Apprehension creeps up my spine as bright green stems creep along her ankles.
No. Not her.
She closes her exhausted eyes, and the vines continue their advance. I send out a cry of warning, but the vines that lock me to my chair squeeze and grow. They twist around me, tighter and tighter, spinning and coiling around my throat, squeezing my chest, collapsing my lungs, robbing me of breath. I drop my potion and the cup shatters on the ground. My wife’s eyes fly open, and she turns to me in horror. The vines surrounding her wrap around her ankles, but they’re too thin and weak to hold her. They break with a snap, and she grabs the shears, tearing at the green monstrosities until my throat is free. She continues her work, but her image clouds in my head. I blink and she’s gone. In a moment, everything disappears.
I am not a monster. I am a man. A man who ate too much and exercised too little. A man whose sedentary lifestyle took over his life. Inactivity, apnea, obesity, edema, arrhythmia. Slow killers, lurking in the shadows. Benign at first and hardly noticeable. Until they’ve wrapped their coils around you and made widows and orphans of your wife and children.
Perhaps I am a monster. But you don’t have to be a monster to be like me.