You are a seal but not really a seal. The name you don't know you are is selkie although when in your seal body, you are only dimly aware of your human self, your ability to shape shift. You swim through the oceans, sleek-water wet, dive and surface, eat(more) fish and crustaceans, have sex--all of it with an incandescent joy. A life worth living. What draws you to shore? The myths don't tell us much. The waning of the moon? That night exactly mid-summer? A strangely appealing man or woman? The cystalized tones of a child's laughter? Something rings you awake, niggles at your primitive until you can't deny the I AM NOT THIS...ENTIRELY.
You come to shore. Still in shallow water, suddenly, without knowing it, you are shedding skin, your skin--not the way you molt, but different. Terrifying. Wondrous. Like a wet suit you can zip down the middle only seamless, the seal fur falls. You stand naked with organs you have never had before. Here you are at your most vulnerable. Best to be alone. Hide behind a rock and watch. Steal clothes. Try to blend in like any alien.
A rule you should know. If you are a selkie reading this now, be alert. ONCE YOU TAKE OFF YOUR SEAL COAT, HIDE IT OR TAKE IT WITH YOU. ANYONE WHO STEALS YOUR COAT CAN OWN YOU. Be wary of even simple acts of human kindness. It is a treacherous road you walk, not impossible, but treacherous. Better to find another selkie to talk to before you attempt your first transformation. Hard to do if you don't even know you are a selkie. Still, if you are in the sea and see the change being done and feel a piercing kinship, you are probably one of us.
Catt didn't appear.
After a moment, Asmodeus's arms slipped from my shoulders, his eyes slipped from my face. He turned his back to me. Black tattoos of grotesque faces roiled up to the surface of his skin. I drew a breath of the leaden air, and sl(more)id one bare foot through the cool sand toward the rivers.
He stared at the sky, hands on hips. I was forgotten.
My other foot joined the first. The air trembled with the thrashing of the silent figures on Asmodeus's skin.
Holding the skirt of my party dress to quiet the rustling, I jogged toward the nearest of the two rivers. Disease's children watched from the shadow of the trees. The rushing current was a foot away. I could wash in the river, like shedding skin-
A hand closed like a tourniquet around my upper arm. I slammed into the soft sand, displacing it into the air.
"I'm not through with you, and that river won't wash me off." Asmodeus glowered down at me, black eyes fiercer than the ash-choked sky above us.
"Catt didn't come, and I won't call her again. You don't need me. Let me go."
"No. I'll have you. Watch." The last word dropped off into a rumble that sunk into the ground. My teeth knocked together as the ground heaved.
Where Asmodeus had been, a figure stood with her back to me, completely still, in front of an antique oval floor mirror. The mirror reflected nothing. She reached for the surface, placed her palm flat upon it, and the mirror shattered. Glittering glass landed around her, and stuck in her skin at odd angles. Within the shards, panicked eyes appeared. Muffled screams filtered through the glass. A table materialized before her. A bottle labeled "Drink me."
Faraway, bottles broke.
Some call it fairy dust. Some call it psoriasis. I call it gross. I can since I have it. Most people don't know my secret. However when I have to be close to someone my anxiety level skyrockets. A hair cut, a dr.'s appointment, even a date with friends.(more) Everyday things like wearing makeup to hide my secret turns on me when I remove it. My eyes bleed and swell. The pain is only doubled by my tears, which for many tears usually bring release and relief. When cosmetic commercials come on all I can think is that I want to be pretty too. I do not cry because I know the pain that comes with it. Now I have radical acceptance. A therapeutic way of telling people they must just accept the cards they are dealt. Since I'm old school I call it shut the hell up and stop complaining. (less)
Shedding skin wouldn't be enough to get me clean. I would need to lose the tongue that never said "yes" but couldn't say "no," like a lizard that loses it's tail when caught in a pair of jaws and grows a new one once safe, alone, in th(more)e heavy air of the nighttime jungle.
The skin doesn't even have to go.
Within my skin, stomach acid could churn and roil, burning ulcers through the leather pouch of my shrunken belly, washing out and over the other organs, dissolving their pink delicacy like weed killer sprayed over a forgotten garden.
Bile could pump darkly from tears in ducts, pooling in corners, calcifying into wrecking balls to shred the fern fronds of lungs, to puncture the fortress walls of ventricles, lodging finally in the liver, scars sealing over them like quicksand over the head of a dead man.
Intestines could bulge and rupture with explosions of parasitic eggs sacs, their circular maws bristling with rippling teeth, gorging their way through the wreckage of the chemical spill that is my body.
I've tried everything to get clean.
Any, any, anything to clean up the slick oil of shame that an hour at the bottom of the ocean of drugged consent released. The drill was in my hand, whirring, driving into the seafloor while I watched bright shadows dance on the ceiling of water, struggling to breathe.
The skin must stay intact, a plastic hazmat curtain drawn tight around the disaster site. No one must come inside without gloves, goggles, and rubber boots. Cleaning up is dirty work. Wear a respirator. I am airborne.
Disease is everywhere. Get vaccinated, and wash your hands. Wash them again. Don't touch me. Wash them again.
Please go. I'm quarantined until She is through with me. I'm sick.
It becomes too much for me
and I watch as they make my mold
transplant my liver and tendons and stomach
everything else is useless
(more) I don’t need a heart anymore
and they fill the mold with cement
I become this mighty statue
that’s what made it so easy to pretend
it’s only when I start to cry
here in my glass house
that the wallpaper inks the water and
the plastic tubes float around my hips
that I realize I have become my own anchor
and I will drown despite my efforts (less)