Forward, Into the Dark

by Kaley Craig

 

There are monsters all around me, but what the trouble really is, is that they all look just like you.

They hold doors open like you do, sing loudly to the radio like you do, keep the car doors locked like you do, hate ceiling fans that wobble and creak, just like you do. In the summer time, they roll up their jeans and wipe the sweat off the upper lip and drink sweet tea by pools, their skin soft and muscles relaxed. I drive past these ones extra slow, counting the naked skin exposed to the glow of the afternoon sun, counting sweat droplets, rings of missed hairs, like rings of pale mushroom, fairy circles, from shaved legs on tan ankles. If anything, this is when they look the most normal. If anything, I feel like the creepy one.

And I think about how, maybe, you’re right. This is wrong. This is so, so wrong. We were supposed to married this June. We were talking about baby names, first, middle names, like great-uncles in memoriam, and, finally, us, because future expectation was rushing at us head long, pole-vaulting over the next ten years like the diamond in my wedding ring was less compressed earth and more crystal ball: I see you holding my hand as I give birth to our second child—I see you holding the jutting bones of my hips in my wedding dress—I see you cracking my skull into the sliding glass door when I wake up and tell you I’m a man.

But, once, you weren’t a monster and, once, I wasn’t a man. I was a woman. I was defined at birth and didn’t question anything. I think that was what attracted me to you; it wasn’t the flat, rounded width of your shoulder blades, like wings, that glided the dominance of your stance, or how I’m supposed to say it was the timbre of your dark voice or the curled ocean waves of your dark hair or the spirals of lust in your deep eyes that provoked my passion for you. But it wasn’t. It was rebellion. You had rings in your eyebrows, stud in your lip, long fingernails.

 

They tell me I’m the one that’s wrong; my brain is in the shape of an ampersand as it twists the chemicals around in my body until I’m all confused to what kind of person I am. But see, that isn’t my problem, either. I’m not afraid of what I’m not. I’m just afraid of you.

 

Kaley Craig is a graduate of the University of Central Florida. She enjoys comic books, Jack Vettriano paintings, and twist endings. Her contribution to Starfall Sea will mark her first publication in Orlando and she is still thrilled to bits about that fact.