I’ve often wished that I could hibernate. Sleep through the worst of my life, and emerge, weak but hungry, for the rest of it. Sometimes I think that’s what I do anyway, retreating inside the cold blank walls of my apartment, where I keep everything silent, everything still.
My mother tells me I’m wasting my time. “You’re so pretty,” she says. “Get out there!”
But what does pretty have to do with anything? What does it get you? I want fangs and claws, I want a thousand pounds of fat and muscle, I want a growl rising from deep in my throat. I want iron-painted lips. Maybe then I’ll be ready.
The cars on the street, the people at the grocery store, they’re laid out for me like traps. They’ll spring shut if I’m not careful, they’ll splinter bone.
Kitchen knives, broken umbrellas, airplanes, soft remarks, loud voices at three in the morning, gun shops, old men lying on park benches, bus drivers that go by without stopping.
Better to wait, better to sleep.
My mother tells me I’m wasting my health. “I’ll call a doctor,” she says. “If things don’t change, I’ll call a doctor.”
She has before. He stalked me through the halls of a hospital wing. There were paths marked on the walls with colored tape, but I did not follow them. I ducked, and zagged. I hid in stairwells and supply closets. But always the florescent moon lit the way to me, always he was watching me. He learned my habits and my weaknesses.
Then he razed me with bullets, and he took me apart.
But he didn’t find anything. My teeth were flat. My arms were weak. And my claws had not yet grown in.
So he let me go. But he tagged me first so he could always find me again. Not that I’ve gone anywhere.
I stretch out on the floor of my room, the wood solid beneath my back.
I do not eat. I do not move. I do not want. I only wait.
My mother tells me I’m wasting my life. “Wake up!” she says. “Wake up!”
I will, one day. When I’m rested and ravenous. I will break down my apartment door, I will scream out at my neighbors, I will seize life by the throat, shake it in my jaws, feel it struggle in my grasp.
Feel it fall limp and warm in my arms.
AUTHOR BIO: Shauna Gordon-McKeon is a writer, researcher, developer and organizer living in Somerville, Massachusetts.