“When this Pokémon sings, it never pauses to breathe. If it is in a battle against an opponent that does not easily fall asleep, Jigglypuff cannot breathe, endangering its life.”
In the anime, it made Jigglypuff angry when her audience fell asleep. She sang, and her singing, pitched just so, quelled the rage of a dragon. Then, using a permanent marker, she scribbled on the dragon’s face. I knew not to sleep in your house. Once, a friend woke up with a penis on his face, undulating like an elephant’s trunk from ear to mouth. You laughed, but I was shamefaced watching him scrub until he drew blood: I knew the cock was your way of branding someone a faggot. I never wanted you to mark me correctly.
Were you ever sung to sleep as a child? I was, when terrified: My mother put her hand on my chest and whispered a song about the rainbow. Later, in a hospital waiting room, I watched The Voice with my mother. Her aunt was dying. The television was muted, the cartoonish thrones of Christina Aguilera and Cee-Lo Green whipped around without sound effects, each fresh-faced nobody listening as the stars begged to guide them. In the waiting room we begged, knowing what we bargained for on behalf of the dying was unfair. Under my breath, I sang the song about the rainbow. When I finished, my mother’s aunt slept.
“An attached Shellder won’t let go because of the tasty flavor that oozes out of its tail.”
One animal’s “tasty flavor” is another animal’s blood. When I bit into a roast beef sandwich and lost my first tooth, I knew my blood; I knew it as a tasty flavor of my own. I collected the tooth in a Zip-Loc bag and watched my insides stain the white bread. Then I ate the sandwich. I’m a vegetarian now, but it is a hard thing to lose one’s taste for blood. Yesterday, I was chopping an onion for soup. The knife slipped and entered a fingernail. I looked at the cut it made, clean and precise, and studied my skin for any rupture. There was none, and I frowned. Why? Were I bleeding, would I have suckled that finger? Quickly I resumed chopping, the knife edging closer to my skin. Yes, I would have my own blood. I am seeking a specific flavor that I can’t name: Something between my flesh and not.
“Its thin, flimsy body is filled with gasses that cause constant sniffles, coughs, and teary eyes.”
I remember seeing a film where an entire town was ill. A monkey bit a man. That man boarded an airplane. The airplane landed in a city the president would later decide to bomb. When one sees a film about disease, one imagines germs as a curse cast from person to person, all of us witches. In this regard, I felt very powerful. I was seven, and a cough was my familiar. My lungs were small, but I learned in a news report about the film that even my body was capable of cursing another. I imagined the invisible things inside me launched through dimensions my eye could never comprehend.
Once I started coughing, nothing could stop me. I had fits that knocked me backwards, that rattled the chandeliers at Marshal Fields. A woman tugged at my mother’s jacket and said it sounded like my lungs were ripping apart the sky. She shrugged because there was nothing to do. I was left with my grandmother for the evening and I coughed for her. She put her fingers to her temples and hummed while I coughed, and when I stopped she looked at me and said I would die. Death has always been a secret I was in on, but my cough is one that’s never divulged itself. Quiet now for years, you might consider my alveoli a network of extinct volcanoes. I think them dormant, primed. They will explode one day in a crowded room, sending those gathered fleeing for a space I’ve yet to blemish.
Colette Arrand is the author of Hold Me Gorilla Monsoon (OPO Books & Objects 2017) and The Future Is Here and Everything Must Be Destroyed (Split Lip Press 2019). She publishes zines, blogs, and produces podcasts under the Fear of a Ghost Planet banner. She can be found on twitter @colettearrand if you’re looking for some bold takes on pro wrestling and Star Trek.