When I use imagery, often I use the animal world as inspiration. I culturally appropriate their innocence; their victimhood; their beauty. Many of my horror writer idols use beasts and monsters as inchoate expressions of the darkest part of the mind of womyn. If you want to see what you can do with the two short flash fictions based on animals and beasts. and use as a prompt, go for it.
Romantacize the species
I ask if the mantas in the petting tank are trying to tell us something when they flap their triangle wings. The woman half-chides me, we want to let the animals be themselves, we don’t want to put our human emotions on them, make them into Disney characters. I said I mean are they trying to be social with me? Do you feed them from one side or the other? All I wanted was to stand or do something so my little granddaughter, a frail, pale child with blue-veined eyelids, could reach out and touch the silken slippery waves made flesh as they swam by. The woman said we feed them everywhere you can buy the ray food over here, they are food-motivated but among themselves they are social. So I said maybe we shouldn’t make them swim so near us and confuse them because we don’t want to play, we want to touch for our own benefit, isn’t this exploitative (my granddaughter didn’t hear) do you switch them out so some can go on retreat from the hands, the hands, always reaching, two-fingered, and grasping, though it says right there we shouldn’t. She sighs, says, I know. I hate this job and most of these people.
Long in the Tooth
The institutional bathroom I walk into where the water is already running out of a motion-sensor faucet.
I want to call out hello? But I always get mad when they do that in movies so I don’t do that.
I run my hand in the cold water as it sprays by itself. How long do these stay on? No one was in the long hallway on the way down and I came out of the farthest classroom by the external barred doors. I turn to the stall to do what I came for and the water goes off behind me. I turn to look. The faucet is silent, its silver sides wink smooth and bland in the light.
As I sit to do my business, the round copper grate with the striped black holes I passed on the way in seems to smile in a circle for me alone. She is definitely a she for sure because we are in the women’s room definitely alone together.
I finish up. I am almost getting up when the toilet ring slams down a few stalls from me. I jump inside, a shiver up my neck in the front, the front of me feels thrummed. I duck a little, thinking to look under and see other legs in that direction. I decide against it, put my shoulders back tell myself to get a grip. I begin to hum We Gotta Get Out of this Place by the Animals, wipe, get to my feet, pull up my tights, pull the long skirt down to my boot tops, flick the silver lock to the right, it removes its elongated, tiny tongue from the door.
I step out, all business, my feet sure, to the faucet that was not on upon entrance. It goes on before I put my hands underneath it and the water is hot, I exhale sharply, pull my hands out of the steaming stream, watch my thumbs and fingers blister and fill with clear fluid in shallow pods of flesh. I turn my hands and the palms are pulled tight and white over the blisters, the lines there smeared with red and pink blight, angry, screaming red like sirens. The copper grid flies up from the floor, hacks a piece of plaster out of the ceiling and the silver eyes are all around a snake made of eyes, they bring pain so much pain, until the door down the line of stalls bursts open and She is there, her sewer stench all around the silver eyes turn themselves downward, spiral down in the maw that opened beneath the grate, they sing as they spiral, in worship of the Queen whose bald and delighted face, only mouth, when it cracks and bursts wide, She makes my mind blink shut to protect from the teeth her teeth oh Her tee—