Most of us are dying for more tears, but not me. I live for the screams and shrieks.
“Get away from my baby,” one cries, squeezing with the lights off. A few rounds pass through me and get lodged in the dresser.
When I was alive, I took a slug in the lung that pushed me to the other side. It still tugs when I pass through the ceiling, but there isn’t a holiday that isn’t improved by screaming.
That’s one way to sugar coat it.
Since my brother came out wrong, the doctor tried stitching me from living parts.
I’m built from phantom limbs aching for their bodies. Whenever I walk by a pinned-up sleeve or a plastic leg, a part of me tries to disappear.
“Zhat is just zee guilt, mien son,” the doctor says, tracing the trenches on my arms with a fatherly finger.
He isn’t my father though. I know that. I have fifty fathers walking the streets, each with a piece of them missing—a finger, a foot, a patch of stubbled cheek. Each feeling a loss that only a parent can feel.
I guess I thought it would be, you know, fun. Like we’d get to hang out all night like we already do, except forever.
I wasn’t thinking about the mechanics of the thing. The circulatory system and all that. That’s always been my problem, even before the turning. Not thinking things through, I mean.
Everyone always said he was slow. By the time his turning kicked in, he’d already been drained and embalmed. He’s so gunked up inside he can barely move. I have to feed him blood from a baby bottle in the basement. He rests his cold head against me, suckling. If I let air bubbles in, he spits out the plastic nipple.
“Me creature of night,” he gurgles. “Me bring hell! Live dark! Hate sun!”
“Yes, you are, Eddie. You’re a horror of human dreams, I promise you.”
A few splatters from his lips land on my cheek. They drip down in place of tears.
When I’m resurrected, I’m desiccated. I can’t even think of anything but the thirst. I suck the soul of this person, then that one, but it doesn’t help.
They use a scroll or spell and I’m finally back in the deep abyss of death. It’s like drinking from a golden jug until you are so full you never want to drink again.
The words on my tomb beg everyone to leave my bones alone. Yet a few years later, another fool with another set of sacred words. I’m wrenched into a world of scarcity and dust.
Death, rebirth, murder, death. The cycle never seems to end. And each time all I can think is, Didn’t you read the sign?
The black lagoon isn’t really black. Everything is bright and alive down here: fluorescent fish, patterned pythons, and electric eels hiding in the green weeds. Sometimes I just swim in place and stare in awe.
When the pink ones come with nets and knives, I watch them scoop out and open up these creatures. I follow their lead, take a pink one to my cave. I open delicately with a single claw and gasp: a brilliant red lake filled with a shining organs, purple tubes, yellow glands, and twisting blue veins!
It’s important to feel a sense of wonder every day.
We’d never been able to have kids, even before the bites, but I still feel like a mother. I have a wolf inside me. She nestles in a cavity in my chest where I had a kidney removed in college.
When she’s inside, she’s so small and soft it tickles. If I scratch just right, I can hear her whimper.
The moon gets bright and she comes out while I go in. I curl up in the warm wet skin.
I’m not trying to say it’s like being born. It’s just that for a while I was tired all the time. They shot my husband with silver and left me with a mortgage and endless bills. But when I’m inside, the world disappears. I’m growing a litter fiercer every time.