“No doubt you’ve been wondering. You’d been waiting all year to see if I’d return. Well, you’ve nothing to fear. Night falls once again, and the wind howls through. It’s me, Dr. Junkenstein, and, oh, how I’ve been waiting for you.”
Of course, I was six pages deep in a tax audit at the time. Chewing a pen when a rash of mothers with broken backs were rushed to the hospital, courteousy of uncareful feet smashing on cracks. Doctors, unsure at the time, blamed osteoporosis.
It was watched pots that remained cool. Or salt thrown over a shoulder that - for a second - showed a devil’s eye. Or it was the alligators. Don’t get me started on the alligators.
But something was the first whisper of what we’d woken up. Nobody wanted to say it out loud, because it sounded so ridiculous. It was a secret that swelled in our cheeks. Phrases we had always said that went silent.
All the hauntings came true. We had photograpic evidence of spirits. That’s probably what started the mass hysteria.
Some things took longer. Rubbing a statue for luck or breaking a mirror. Delayed response. One bad day turns into a bad month. Then you’re at the local witch place begging for a respite - seven years of bad luck?! - and she’s shaking her head. Nothing to be done.
Oh, the witches. The funny thing is that when people have always called you a witch, they’re surprisingly needy when you turn out to be one. When the world shifted, little towns who avoided one woman for her witchiness were now flocking to her because their legend had made her become one.
Pens mightier than swords. Avoiding groups of certain numbers. When a knife drops, we all hold our breath for the fight. A fork means company will show up, confused how they arrived.
It got better for a moment, for a breath, while we figured out the rules of it. What was a legend and what was myth. What kind of faith was big enough and what was too big. Some legends only effected certain areas. Some only certain people. We sunk money into infrastructure for once to clear up cracks. Stepped over salt in every building. Sold amulets like trinkets. For a second, we almost got our feet under us.
And then it got worse. Sometimes the company you invited was strange, unhuman. You had to wear iron. We had loved our cryptids until they came down from the mountains, worse than we could have predicted. Bowls of milk were on every window sill but most of them rotted.
In the books, we had all read about the end of the old ones. The unspeakable ones, who went off into the hills one day. Who we cannot say the name of. Who did not exist in the land of buses or planes. Who can steal you if they know your name, who can never lie but do a good job of it anyway.
We were not ready. The Folk showed up through the thin veil, and they were already laughing.
you know what’s sort of fascinating. the word “feelings”. i think about this a lot. about how it comes as sort of a mocking idea, a shadow of reality. oh, did i hurt your feelings?
men, of course, don’t have these things. these dirty moths that bang around inside of heads, these girly feelings, these gay feelings, these not-cool-bro feelings. men are drinking a beer and watching tv and not traumatized by anything, not even her and her hair like a noose. when they want to crack open and tell their best friend that they are a million mirrors, all reflecting empty: instead they say nothing. they turn angry. angry is not a feeling. angry is a better place to be, the top of the roller coaster. nobody says you’re a fuck up if you’re angry. it’s sort of brave. at the bottom, because you come down, eventually, we all do, you wake up and people ask. what happened to you. is all this because of your feelings?
women, of course, are only these terrible creatures. ruled by it like werewolves. howling and sad and animalistic, chewed up by them. sobbing as a way to escape, because nobody knows how to handle feelings. this make us weak, flimsy, a bed to lie down on but not sleep, you’ll catch feelings. when it is a bad day, when it is a bad life, when we are complaining, it is because of our feelings. this is how we turn mouse-quiet too, learn to mask anger lest it be mistaken for that-time-of-the-month feelings. we cry over our best friend but we don’t cry in a funeral, unsure how to look strong and sensitive, hating ourselves at seven for crying in front of the neighbor, baby feelings, loving ourselves at twenty for holding it in when he sneers oh, does misogyny trigger your feelings? hating ourselves again when we feel a little colored out of the lines, holding our passion in like a breath, quietly sifting crazy feelings that maybe aren’t so crazy to begin with.
feelings. feminine connotations. impolite in proper society. when they ask how you’re feeling, you say “fine.” don’t cry, it will spoil the cake. don’t be so whiny, it won’t happen anyway. don’t feel, it’s not your place.
how to win an argument is easy. “oh, i’m sorry, did i hurt your feelings?” a spat word. a word that drips with venom, a word you shove the plate away with, no thanks i’m not hungry. empty of them. feeling is being in contact with the world, being stroked by it, having things get into skin and lips and behind eyes. strength is the opposite; the unsoft, the untouchable, the ethereal above-ness, no wound can utter the name of you.
i’m in my feelings. yeah, i have feelings for you. open word. gaping. an already-forming bruise.