You’re breathing heavy, like your lungs were two suitcases and this moment was a flight of stairs. The starfish imprint of your hand turning pink on my cheek. That battery acid taste of blood. I can feel it in my teeth.
So what happens now? The heartfelt apology? The tearful contrition? I’m so sorry baby. She meant nothing to me. Nothing at all. Some roses and chocolates and a maudlin promise that I’ve changed, I’ve changed. Or would you prefer if I dropped to my hands and knees and started kissing those perfectly pedicured toenails of yours like I was some kind of goddamn dog? Well pardon me, but fuck that, darling. I’m a man. Not your fucking pet. You were a fool for thinking you could domesticate me.
So I’m going to let you go now. I’m going to let you storm through the living room and slam the front door. I’m going to let you slip in the driveway and skin your knee and roll around in the front yard like a crazy person, ripping up handfuls of grass, and I’m going to let you get in the car and grind the transmission and I’m going to let you scream ‘fuck you’ as you speed down the street, as you take that right turn just a little too hard, as your car rolls over the side of the guardrail. I’m going to let you land in that ditch and I’m going to watch as the liquid leaks out of the fuel tank. You’re struggling. Screaming. You’re begging for help. I’m going to let the car catch on fire. I’m going to let you burn.
But I won’t say I’m sorry, because the truth is, I’m not.
* * *
The house is quieter than it’s ever been before. Midnight creeps by like a cat burglar, and yet, I can’t sleep. Every time I close my eyes, there’s your face – your stupid fucking face – polluting my dreams like oil in a puddle. The bruise on my cheek throbs. Your handprint. Your epitaph, haunting me from beyond. You’re not actually dead. I can feel you right now. Your memory lives on in the spot where you slapped me.
Suddenly, I don’t feel so well. My adrenaline spikes and my blood runs hot. I’m feverish. I’m achy. I’m dizzy and nauseous and the room won’t stop spinning. I reach up and wipe the sweat from my brow and notice a small, slender finger growing out of the center of my forehead. My nose is dripping yellow snot and…
…wait a minute...
A SMALL, SLENDER FINGER GROWING OUT OF THE CENTER OF MY FOREHEAD!!!
I kick open the door to the bathroom and flick on the light. What the fuck? Is this some kind of joke? What the hell is happening to me?!?
The finger on my face wiggles, as if to say hello. With trepidation, I slowly wave back, and then, my body stops working. It’s completely seized up and I’ve collapsed on the floor. I’m shaking. Rabid foam forms at the corners of my mouth. My eyes turn pink as blood vessels burst. My skin bubbles, blisters, erupts like a volcano, and more fingers sprout out of me. They’re sprouting from everywhere. Each of my hands explode into a dozen different digits. Some are long, like octopus tentacles. Others are short, like baby corn. Hairy knuckles cover my face. I wear a beard of thumbs. My chest starts to squirm underneath my shirt. It claws through the fabric – my pectorals now palms, slapping each other high-five. Pinkies and pointers, indexes and middles. And just when I think I can’t take anymore, the convulsions gently tapper off. The pain subsides. I catch my breath. The fingers scrape their way up the sink, allowing me to stand. There I finally see myself in the mirror.
My entire body is made of hands.
* * *
I’m running through the woods. I skitter across the leafy terrain, all of my appendages working in unison like a million millipede legs. I move swiftly. Purposefully.
I am out on the hunt.
As I slap my way across the countryside, I can’t help but wonder just how many days I wasted masquerading as a man. A man who paid the bills and listened to you complain about the other girls at work; a man who took you out on Valentine’s Day and stood there complacently while you tried on shoes at the mall. How many days did I deny who I truly was? How much breath did I waste saying ‘I love you’?
If we ever meet again I might not look like a monster. I might tell you everything you want to hear. I might be Mr. Right. But know that deep inside me, a werehand lurks. A creature that cannot compromise. A creature you helped create. And I know you’re lonely. I know you need me too. I am but a heartbeat away, baby. All you have to do is shut your mouth, put your ear towards the woods and listen close. From the top of a mountain, you can hear me howling.
Under a cover of darkness, I applaud the moon.
Danger_Slater is the world's most flammable writer! He enjoys long walks on beached whales and candlelit babies! He writes with a lot of exclamation points! His short fiction can be found across both print and electronic mediums (that means in books and on the internet) and his debut novel is called LOVE ME, which is available through the Jersey Devil Press! For links to his work and all things dangerous, visit his website :www.dangerslater.blogspot.com