we used to use the countertop in our apartment to prepare food. now it is stocked with screwdrivers, electrical tape, and WD-40. once a week, we gently unscrew our cybernetic bits from the ports in our arms and legs and lay all of them out in a row. we clean them and fix any wiring problems and try not to look at the soft dark skin puckering around the docking sites. we are quiet.
today, you are holding a pair of pliers and a smooth aluminum piece of your forearm. I put my hand on your chest. my hand is mostly soft, mostly mine, but there are sharp bits in it. I take the piece you were fixing and turn it over in my palm, exposing the wiring. now, we look at each other. our eyes are soft, ours. I thrust my fingers into the braid of wires. you shudder. I touch it like I used to touch the insides of red peppers before I cooked them. you drop the pliers.
“I want to be the monster this time.”
you roll your eyes up to the ceiling and groan, “you were the monster last time,” but you are already opening the drawer where we keep all the pretend weapons and some of the real ones. you pick the meter stick. you always pick the meter stick.
I fold my arms across my chest. “ok, this time you get a ten second head start,” I tell you, but you hold my eyes for two full seconds before slinking around the corner and into the dark. I give you ten seconds anyway.
I hunch over and start sputtering and growling and creeping forward in jerky, halting steps. I learned this game on the playground at school. I learned this game when it really happened to my neighbor’s daughter. she was two years younger than me. I sniff the air and snort.
I can hear you in the hallway so I turn the corner. I let my fingernails sink into the drywall and move slowly. there are no windows in this part of the house. slowly, slowly. I get to the end and you are not there, so I wait. I wait for a minute and a half. I groom myself where the fur is supposed to be.
then: the walls creak. I look up, and you. you, smiling, clinging between the walls with your arms and legs. you fall onto me with a shriek and we topple and roll down the hallway, me growling and slashing and you batting at me with the meter stick. I rip it out of your hands and throw it into the other room and pin you. we’re breathing hard.
“you can go ahead and eat me, I guess,” you whisper, and so I move to your stomach and lift up your shirt. I nuzzle the skin there and make biting and slurping sounds until you start laughing and pull me back up to your face. “baby,” you say, and we kiss.
a while ago I posted a link here: anyone can come in anonymously and write things or delete what’s there. I requested poetry and these are some of the things people wrote.