“We are unforgivable, you know,” he says, hands washed clean, clothes straightened, not a hair out of place.
I cannot help but see through it, and remember what he looked like only moments before. Wild and filthy with violence, flush with monstrosity. The truth of him laid bare.
“You most of all.” He dries his hands off on the towel, eminently civilized. “Someone like me, at least, can lie.”
Curling up in the blankets doesn’t change anything. You can’t hide the sort of thing that I am. You can’t hide the sort of things that I do. Sculpted into meat and bones, the cadence of step and speech, the play of shadow and light around me. The wreckage strewn between the past and present, the writhing promise of the future. The truth, laid bare.
“Unlike you. A perfect monster.”
“It’s not fair. I don’t wanna be bad—”
“You don’t, and it’s not. But there is no fairness for the monster, I’m afraid. No forgiveness. People hate to see the truth, after all. Here. Give me your hands.”
Such as they are. He still holds them gently, reverently. A perfectly normal face, eyes alight with adoration, lips gentle. Someone who knew no better would be horrified at the sight of such a normal, civilized person so lovingly kissing something like me. How can he stand the corruptive touch of an abject, revolting thing?
Doesn’t he know that monstrosity is contagious?
He’s the one who abjected me. But like he said. He’s a consummate liar, and I am unfailingly honest. It’s him they should be afraid of, that should disgust them.
As it is, it all falls onto me. I can’t even truly resent them for it.
Here’s the thing. Man, he told me once, is a story-telling creature. We weave narratives around ourselves like caterpillars weave cocoons, weaving them into the meat of our souls. To destroy the story… that’s tantamount to destroying the person. Lashing out, hatred… the natural responses of a sapient creature under existential threat. Monster is the only word strong enough for something that so threatens them.
Better the comforting story preserved, and the monster splattered underfoot, than the truth laid bare.
“We are unforgivable,” he says.
“You, most of all,” I tell him. He smiles, sharp as a blade, unable to hide himself, the real him peeking out of the fake story he has woven to walk among the rest unbothered. “You did this to me.”
“My truth,” he says, worshipful, adoring. “Laid bare.”
I posted a slightly edited version on Twitter on my personal account already but you know what? Here it is, in its original, unredacted glory. I do not know what the two characters are or what’s going on beyond what’s presented! Are they vampires? A mad mage and a reanimated corpse? An extended metaphor for trauma and how society responds to it? All three, somehow? Could Be Anything!
This was done for the Monstrous May Challenged on twitter, the prompt list for which you can find here.