I keep thinking of how incredibly close and exceedingly violent we are. I keep walking the streets looking for a victim. I realize now that enlightenment can’t cure grief. What if I can’t stop thinking, if I wouldn’t wonder between the dead and living? I wish people would stop using certain words like love, and husband, girlfriend, and spouse. They are to close. Like two codependent robots waiting for assurance. I think of the things I think I love, like tea. How the sweetness slides down your tongue and sometimes burns for days. Is that what love is? Or am I mistaking it for revenge? I imagine that you are somewhere watching in the distance and thinking I have forgotten our dreams and hopes and worst of all your smell.
I remember the first week I had an obsession with smells. How I would smell the racks of soaps neatly aligned at the local grocery store. How I sat sniffing over photos and past notes, and costumes I once wore in front of you hoping that the ghostly fragrance will reappear. But, it is like a rain drop that swims away until it has vanished into the unknown. I thought of the things I should have taken when I left: a shirt, a comb, a lock of hair, maybe your blood stained wallet. Sometimes I think I have forgotten those wishes and desires, but in reality they toss and turn like a wave coming thorough- in and out of my pours like a bad dream or a reckless car chase.
I know that you would deny it if you saw me now, typing frightfully in an empty studio. The truth is: I am a monster. I have turned into something that I can no longer control. I used to run past strangers and sneak into cafes assuming that someone would remind me of you. I would screen through the colognes at the retail counter imagining that I could bring you closer to me. I realize now that the mind plays tricks on you, like a mothers lost perfume where you are left questioning why she stopped wearing it. How phone messages accidentally get erased and CD’s scratch and memories become lapsed. What will I have left once that old picture turns brown and dusty? Honestly, I used to think that your picture was ingrained into my pupils, where I would close my eyes and remember the last conversation, how you smiled, how you laughed, how you argued. Now I question those conversations. How did they start? Was it a question or an answer? Did you smile with your eyes or from the side with your head tilted? Was it the laugh from deep down in your belly that got me laughing hysterically or the hidden light giggle of an afternoon? Did you always wait and think of your arguments or argue as I kept you up at night?
People are starting to notice, I think, because they no longer look at me as human. There’s so much I want to tell you that I think you will assume I am a different person. For example I am now obsessed with punctuations: Because; they say so much. And, so little. Sometimes I forget how to scream! Other times I force myself into silence… I may be paranoid/ scared but I am not delusional. People’s voices are now lower as though they are waiting for the moment that I return to humanity. I am mostly afraid of you. I keep thinking that I will look up and find you staring at me. Or, even worse, miss you running past me. Sometimes I jerk my head up to get a glimpse of reality, or imagine that maybe I will catch the in-betweens of life and death.
I listen more now. I can hear voices that I haven’t heard before, and I’m beginning to think that I’m not alone. I imagine the scenes and sets of the afterlife. Is it like it is here? Not that I am afraid of the unknown. I am afraid of having truly lost you. I imagine the darkness. I imagine the light, but there is only lonesomeness. The embodiment of my monstrosity. There are others like me. I am afraid of them too, but I dare not let them notice. They will only remind me of my transformation, and I do not want to be reminded of the past. At least not now. I hear them often on the train as I am looking down, as I usually do to the different classes of human shoes. Slipping into an uncontrollable brawl; thinking of you. I am often able to regain control of my wailing, but this is only to ensure the humans that I am harmless lest they shoot me too. I have tried a few times to reach out to others like me, but we speak the same language of silence, and solidarity in silence is most monstrous. The other day I heard one cry out on the south side of Chicago. I couldn’t pin point the exact location but I knew it wasn’t far from 61st and Ellis, where I’d lost you. I wanted to run out and help, but I knew that I would not be able to control my nerves and I would only be putting humans’ lives at stake.
I am not your average monster. I say this because I have been a witness of what I would consider other potential monsters. I wish they would understand this, but it is hard for me to explain. I keep leaving clues for them, but they are always on guard. I’ve tried doing human things to remind them that I can be tamed. I smile sometimes when they are watching, I eat with them when I am free, I have even made attempts to reconcile bad human relationships from the past. But, to my disbelief, the sobs and rage accidentally drift in and out of our conversations. I sometimes want to howl, and I force myself to run away into a dark or lonely hideout until it passes. Sometimes I can’t hide, because I know that they are everywhere. I try bathrooms, but the doors swing in and out and I begin to count how many of them have entered, and how many have left, and whether I’ll ever be free. I try hidden staircases, but I hear the bellow (from within) echo and I begin to wonder if I am truly alone. Trouncing amongst humans and monsters.
I used to hear humans talk about their encounters with monsters, but I never believed it until now. I am a walking testament of their faith in us. The truth is there’s no pleasing humanity. You have taught me that. They are walking luxuries always wanting to be upgraded. I’ve seen them rape, strike, and slaughter. I know what you would say -there are a few that understand. But this is because I believe they have evolved into half species. I hear about them on the news sometimes, they are the ones helping us cross the border or pushing us into their basement hideouts. They have been renamed by their own as Borderline Monstrosities. I used to care about them too, but my transformation has forced me to look at all humans indifferently. I am no longer afraid of their weapons, intellect, or strength. I now realize that I too can have all of those. I know that I can become anything I want and they can’t stop me. After all I am a monster.
I am now a hunter too. Everything changed for me when I saw you being sent home, scarred and lifeless. I never imagined you would return a lion with shackles from the new world. You were the only person that could have stopped my transformation and yet you helped me complete it. It is because of you that I became a hunter–for which I am preying on my next victim with precision and patience. I only have one victim. He is the only one that could have left you bound with no remorse.
I have practiced my attack for weeks now. At first remembering our last encounter at the el. How the whimper of the new fall season and the stench of a passing summer filled the air. The memory is a blur; funny how your absence disguises life. How I have started reinventing days and questioning the passing of time. Was it day or late evening? Early morning or night? Was this the mark of a passing? I have become obsessed with details; for which I no longer love. Was it a blue shirt and black slacks or grey slack and white shirt? Like a monster I look for clues, but they are only presumptions of death. Because I know that I will one day rediscover you.
I almost went out that night, looking to practice my new found patience on humanity. A monster controlling oneself. I imagined that I could even act human, if I were forced into an uncontrollable state of animosity and disgrace, but instead I fell into a cavernous sleep in which I dreamt only of my victim.
There he was, chained and handicapped by the slave traders of Africa. I laid next to him in a sea of charred bodies clinging to my dress. He smelled of soot, sweat, and desiccated flesh. His skin burned and drabbed by the heat of the east. It was the way I wanted to see him. In a horde of uncanny figures. I wanted to fight him, thinking of his helplessness, of his lack of humanity, lack of iniquity. “What are you now?” I asked. “A nobody!” It came to me suddenly, like an uncontrollable plague. “You are nothing! You are dirt!”I stared up at him, my head wobbling like a dieing fowl… “Are no-body!” I started to laugh manically at first, cling to my stomach frantically, fearing my gut would pour out like the Nile. “You hear me, nobody!” I cried. Chuckling at what little health was left in me. “You are nobody!” But, he did not cry back. He did not clench at the whip as it swept across his back like fine European linen. He stared ahead, not whispering the songs of his ancestry, or whimpering the poetry of his Great Great Grandfather’s father. Great grandfather’s father… grandfather’s father… father.
He was no Oroonoko; he was nobody.
I thought him dead, and would have wished it had I not noticed the blood sweeping across my eyelids. I shook from my laughter being struck across the face by his mannish fist. I saw his frightened eyes piercing down at me with disgust. There I was chained neck to neck and coupled to my victim’s hands. I clung to my bare chest hoping to save my tender breasts as I heard the whoosh of the whip sweeping against the heavens of bodies. I cried out at the sight of my nakedness, at the sight of my helplessness, as the white man leaned against me and poked and laughed. “You are no body! You are a woman! Your nothing; you dirt! A Negro girl!” My victim pulled harder, and I began to feel the monstrosity within me grow. My hands began to shake and I pulled back, my hands stretching out to the skies as I searched for your hand. I clung to my throat imagining my arms stretched out like a rope painting veins across the branches of a leaning willow tree. I began to rock back and forth. Back and forth. Him pulling, me pulling back, I watched the ghosts dance across the distance. In the dark I could make out their figures as they clung to the floor and fell hard like raindrops feeding on the earth. I shivered under my covers, and snickered at the thought that monsters cannot die.