Photographs: The Monsters
I stole the moon when I was ten. Plucked it right out of the river. I hid it in my pocket all the way home, peeking once, twice, three times to make sure it was still glowing. I kept it on my desk like a nightlight until I was old enough to learn that monsters don’t hide in the dark anymore.
When I hold the dice, roll them around my palm, I pretend they are the moon. I pretend they can keep me safe from the monster across the table, the one that counts out my pay and tells me when to win and when to lose.
The monster’s hands are soft as they teach me how to throw and shuffle. Their voice is sweet between white teeth.
When I gamble, I play the deck like a violin. I am a monster now too. I pluck the strings of aces and kings. I steal stars from glittering nebulas before anyone knows they’re there. I smile in their faces and slip away their souls. Even when they win, we both lose. Sometimes I look at the other monsters for approval. The vacuum of their eyes doesn’t change. Instead, comets and stellar winds swirl in their glasses and dribble down their chins onto the red carpets. Monsters and prey spin together in a cloud of light. The moon is safe in my uniform pocket.
I cut the deck. Play the game.
One monster holds my hand sometimes. Solar flares and Saturn’s rings click against her wrists and around her neck. She clings to me. There’s desperation in her hands.
I show her the moon. Behind us, machines sing and hold constellations waiting to fall into open hands.
We hide together in my room. We turn off the lights and splay in the dark, the way monsters did before they got brave. A perfect syzygy, the moon sits between us. We orbit each other, slow then fast. Our hands don’t touch, but our voices do. Our dreams converge in space too large for us to fill. We wonder, what if we became supernovas? What if we drift away, attached only to each other? The moon shines between us, soft and perfect. My fingers trail down the bumpy surface, and I wonder how we became this way.
Two monsters in the welkin, pretending they remember how to be human.
Photo by Taylor R on Unsplash.