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February 1, 2011 | Fiction

Monster, Days Like These, and Kept Curiosities 

Katie Jean Shinkle

Monster, Days Like These, and Kept Curiosities  photo

 

Monster

The Loch Ness Monster Had A Baby! the front cover of the supermarket rag says and we scream and scream and scream THE LOCHNESS MONSTER HAD A BABY and we are so happy and we say WE CAN’T BELIEVE IT, THE LOCHNESS MONSTER HAD A BABY and Mother says, girls. Mother says you are shrieking like girls. Mother says stop it, both of you. BUT WE CAN’T BELIEVE IT, THE LOCHNESS MONSTER IS HAVING A BABY.

We cannot shake the excitement of the cover of the supermarket rag, we are constantly thinking about it, we obsess over it.

In school, we pretend that the bare wall on the south side of the room is bare because the teacher is waiting for the corpse of the Loch Ness monster to be brought back and hung. We would be able to touch it, examine the beast for every subject. Spell M-O-N-S-T-E-R. See the trachea? The dorsal fin? Where is Scotland? 10 million sightings plus 5 times 20 million trillion is? Every single subject reigned supreme by the corpse of the Loch Ness monster hanging where “A Good Attitude is A+” currently hung, a caterpillar with a smile hanging out of an apple at the end.

The smoke is rising, is sinking and its making it harder to breathe outside. We will all have evacuate soon. We imagine the smoke coming from smokestack where the Loch Ness monster and it’s baby, like veal, are being smoked to feed us all.

We imagine the parade through downtown when the men bring back the corpses for processing to the smokehouses, our father and brother and mother at the beginning, dragging the giant faces down the street, blank eyes and slime skin.

 

Days Like These

We walk to the beach as a family, to the water as a family. We link arms and we hold breaths together, here we walk as a family, this is a family, look at us.

We are careful when we reach the shore to not let go of each other, as if letting go would result in us crashing like smashed porcelain, a million different ways to ourselves. As if not letting go would protect us from the ways in which we could hurt each other, letting us fall as we may.

“I cannot believe how beautiful the sky is today.” Mother says, as if she has never seen the sky before turned fall. “I cannot believe this is even real.”

We wade out into the lake to the sand bar and turn and wave and wave until our Mother waves and waves back to us. She is petting a nearby dog and talking to an old woman while Father lays on his back with his towel over his eyes on the blanket.

We take down the tops of our bathing suits and float on top of the water when no one is looking. We wade out until we cannot touch the bottom, and then some more.

The water looks as though it will never let us leave, as if it will hold us captive into the evening and we will feel fish and seaweed and things around our ankles and we will have nothing to hold on to but each other. We watch the horizon sink in and tuck itself and tumble itself, over and over again, a cosmetic uroborus of cloud-cover and color-cover. In the distance, there is pink only for a moment.

We wish for everyday to be as this one. We wish to the water, to the air, to the sky, to the sand. We wish for Father to hold Mother’s hand and laugh so easily. We wish for Mother to wave and wave and wave, to not forget about us.

 

Kept Curiosities

The waves, our Mother says, will kill us. She wraps bricks with duct tape around our thighs and tells us to say hello to the moon as we walk the dirt road to the shore, the apple trees dropping and curtseying, and they are shaking and we are shaking with our bricks drooping, ripping hair, ripping skin.

The waves, our Mother says, are too high tonight. We each hold her hand on either side, we are stumbling and we are crying and we are moving too fast for our feet but she is strong and picks us up by our arms and it strains our sockets and we cry out but the water is all she hears in her ears.

O Mother, we say. No Mother, we say.

The waves, our Mother says, are much too much. We are running down the dirt road, we are running and running, we are going fast and everything is in black and white and everything is drowning. Things take on a spectrum, take on a different shape and everything threatens us. We are tripping and grabbing at trees and bushes and letting them tear at our arms and at our chests and letting them grab us, grab us.

The waves, our Mother says, are deafening. She covers her ears as she leads us to the shore, where the rocks are as tall as she is and jagged, dangerously slippery. The waves are crashing around us and the lights from the lighthouse are blinking rapidly, whispering. We are dragging our feet now. We are dragging our ankles. Mother is dragging us along the lawn, along the sand, to the rocks. She is going to throw us face first into the water.

The waves, our Mother says, are our new home. We scramble against the current, we grab a hold of the edges of rocks that are infested with zebra mussels that cut our hands. Swim, Mother says. When we thrash our legs, our knees hit the bricks just right. The duct tape is unfettered, waterproof. We thrash and thrash but nothing, nothing.

 

image: Ryan Molloy


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