OF MONSTERS is a series of flash fiction exploring what it means to be monstrous, and each piece, small and silver-wrapped, opens to reveal something different. In Dana Diehl’s “Child Star,” monstrousness is fame, and the feeling that your body is undependable, might any moment split like a seam. In “Jane Eyre,” Zach Doss explores the monstrousness of cutting someone to bits and reconstruction, of a love turned scientific and procedural. Monstrousness is having a fish in your heart, is a series a B movies where we’re just waiting to be attacked, is the pebbling in of a migraine, is being a different sort of person in your attic, is darkness, is senility, is the struggle to swallow. A topcoat of witchcraft. The hint of a tentacle in a pool. Monstrousness is being the person who wasn’t good enough to love. Is the dragon you can’t control. Is knowing how powerless you are.
The series is inspired by Melissa Goodrich’s debut collection Daughters of Monsters, a raw and magical book of spells, an honest yet harrowing look at the wonder and threat of the world.
Eighteen years under the hot bridge of magnolia in the grass-bound park. I been living here. Proof: look at my hairy troll arms. The trunk of legs. See skin bulge. Hair on my cheeks, eyelids. That greenish tinge, not like leaves, like dead things.
I swim mud. I eat blooms. All day every day; no bosses. I am self-employed under the bridge. Occupation: Troll. Salary: DOE.
Up above I see sandaled feet. I see your outlines, vertical, like you are falling away from me, a straight drop. I smell your walk. I catch the drips of your ice cream on my outstretched tongue, there in the slatted dark. Dripping through the planks.
Understand now: I found the safest place. And I’m guarding it. In the muggy gloaming I sleep on a nest made by the island’s crested ducks. They come winging in their gaudy necks, curling the water’s surface, doubled feather-all. Drop twigs. Straw. Some strands of hair: blonde.
Oh, I wasn’t always like this. Me I used to sleep under cool tin bleachers blue in the southern night. The lawn still warm and breathing with ticking summer insects far off in the dark tacky there a car. It passes. Sighs. I could see the lights holed up in the violet sky. I saw them.
Listen now. Don’t you worry about me. I’ve never been more comfortable. You see, every morning I am the very first troll/person to see the light what scales the water’s edge. I see it, I see it go brilliant with the far-off sun, past the loamy dirt, past the bridge boards, past the live oaks and the telephone wires. I see with my very own eyes how the light begins with the river and, contrary to the people’s popular belief– travels up.
Delaney Nolan‘s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Electric Literature, VICE, Guernica, on NPR and elsewhere. She is in Iowa or New Orleans or Greece maybe.