Honorable Mention – Flash 405, April 2020: “Change In Perspective”
It’s better to be stuffed whole than a severed head mounted onto a wall. If you’re lucky, you’ll be exhibited at a museum of natural science behind glass, a layer between you and Them.
With cars, They run over us, leaving our oozing, gutted carcasses to empty onto tar, organs rotting, insects swooning, dueling one another for our juicy bits. Donning camouflage, They hunt us with rifles. Trap us in nets and nooses, crushing our airways, severing our spines.
We’re just meat to Them. A means to an end.
In pieces the past remains—the coolness of the blade against my skin, the scraping as They cut into me, the lightness as I drained. They were smarter than I thought, taking care to ensure Their investment. Taxidermists prefer a specimen’s skin to be carefully removed. All the better, and swifter, to stuff us.
Bought whole, my ten feet were mounted with careful detail. But I wasn’t one of those lucky bastards housed behind museum glass. No, there’s no barrier between Them and me here. Dressed up in Their clothes, arranged in Their ridiculous world.
My eyes, made of glass, stare forward. I beg them to close. My brainless, stuffed skull to dream. One of Their offspring squeals in my face, it s cheeks splotchy with cotton candy remnants. “Look, Mommy. Look, Daddy,” it says, its sticky finger jabbing toward me. “An alligator in a top hat!”
I wear a black top hat with a turquoise ribbon and brown feather. A silver vest strains against my spiked back. I am the Mad Hatter at a tea party with friends. A black bear in a polka-dot dress, a squirrel monkey in a bowtie and coattails, a flamingo in a blond wig with a bonnet, our Mother Goose. Chipped teacups litter the table set before us. Plastic cakes are scattered about.
“Mommy, Daddy, take my picture with the alligator!” Their offspring screams.
If only my jaw wasn’t wired this way, open just enough to show my seventy-six teeth, artificially stained with tea, I would crank my snout wide, a nutcracker ready to guillotine. Their offspring would be tender and sweet. I will myself to remember that once upon a time I was Predator and They prey. I would have swallowed Their offspring whole, feeling it move slowly down my length, its juicy white meat nourishing me. Take me back there, I beg. Take me anywhere but here.
Christina Rosso is a writer and bookstore owner living in South Philadelphia with her bearded husband and rescue pup. Her debut collection SHE IS A BEAST was released from APEP Publications in May 2020. Her writing has been featured in FIVE:2:ONE Magazine, Digging Through the Fat, Ellipsis Zine, and more. Visit http://christina-rosso.com or find her on Twitter @Rosso_Christina.