I am the one who Burned the Crops | Ryann Fletcher

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I am stuck between the here and there, the nether that lies in the expanses of space between where I know my own mind and where I don’t.

Stars blink in and out of existence while we are busy with the mundane.

Imagine what we might learn if we were always looking up, staring in wonder at the night sky and dreaming of the beyond?

There are matters in life which cannot be argued:

First, the pressing need to fixate on that which does not serve us.

Second, that we always want what we cannot and should not have.

Third, if there is a god, they have much to answer for.

The endless, inescapable gravity of blind faith, because it is easier to hide like a child than to face the monsters that hide in the darkness.

Their teeth glitter like cursed stars.

You either die fighting them, or live long enough to become one.

Sometimes, perhaps, it can be both, depending on the triangulation of the observing perspectives.

The burden of monstrosity lays heavy on my shoulders, a yoke thrust upon me without my consent and what more can I do to run from it? After all, every unexpected reflection holds a startling revelation:

I was never who they thought I was.

Never, not once. Not even for a moment, not when I was born and certainly not now. I hide, concealing my truth with a broad, gleaming smile. If you look closely, you’ll see that I have more teeth than is necessary. A curiosity of birth, most people think. They never wonder if it’s me under their beds.

They never stop to ask who freed the livestock.

Who torched the grain.

Who salted the earth and dragged famine behind us, no matter where we went.

They handed me their babies with a relieved sigh, never considering for a moment that I was the one who left the gates open. Who allowed the monsters to breach our walls and destroy our future.

After all, monsters have to eat too.

They don’t have the luxury of time, despite being ageless and enduring. They don’t have the privilege of gentle hunger, the kind that invites a late night snack. Theirs is a grasping, sucking need, and sometimes I’ve begun to feel it, too.

A hawk is a monster to a mouse. A human is a monster to a fat lamb. I am a monster to everyone around me, they just don’t know it yet.

My body lies in wait, biding its time for betrayal.

One morning I will wake up and find even more glittering teeth in my mouth. One afternoon I’ll realize that my fingers are growing into talons, and my mind has been sharpened as if by a whetstone. One evening I will recoil from my reflection in the still waters, seeing that horns have sprouted from my skull, bursting forth through skin thin as paper.

There is mundanity in monstrosity, too.

The creeping march towards your own doom, watching yourself become what you swore you never would.

I thought I would die a heroine. Instead, I will die both forgotten and reviled.

Ryann Fletcher writes queer science fiction and fantasy.

Twitter: @IMRyannFletcher

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