She’s tried on so many masks. Buddhist. Birder. Competitive eater. Sadomasochist. She’s even tried joining the PTA. As it happens, this excursion ends badly. A discussion of the middle school bake sale segues into the new dress code, then some soccer mom with a condescending, tight-lipped grin presumes to give her parenting advice. Naturally, things get heated. She leaps from her seat, scythes her tail and roars, annihilating the entire gymnasium, the snack table and scorched bones of several mothers scattered among the flaming bleachers. The cooked meat of them makes her salivate. She craves it, yet through sheer will she regains her composure and leaves without further incident. No longer welcome after such untoward actions, she sends her embarrassed progeny to stay with Mothra and her brood for a few weeks while she retreats into the black depths of mediocrity. She needs to do some serious soul searching and takes up extreme cross-stitch and goes “vegetarian” (but like, the mac & cheese and French fries kind, not the real kind). But “isms” of any kind have never really been her thing, so it’s no real surprise or stress on her new conviction when she finds herself at a bison ranch in Tokyo, Ohio, where, in addition to selling all variety of delicious meats, they hold craft shows and concerts, the bill mostly filled with geriatric one-hit wonders making their rounds on the county fair and raceway circuit. There are drunk, middle-aged men everywhere, pale hairy stomachs flopped over their belts like sloshing sacs of milk. They don’t seem to notice her scales or her towering size or that her skirt is really a repurposed fumigation tent. She assumes this is because of the large quantities of cheap domestic beer. One man gyrates in the grass, his hot breath wafting up at her as he sings, I’m burnin, I’m burnin, I’m burnin for you. She mostly smiles at this, as she does at the unsolicited advances of dozens of other men, slurring their inebriated odes. The world has taught her that she should be flattered, and a smile is the only way to respond to compliments such as these. But her smile is full of fangs. She is a prehistoric sea monster, after all. Or is she some sort of dragon? Or a dinosaur? It’s rather frustrating, she admits, and she quickly becomes bored of twirling and twirling to the music, smiling and smiling at their lusty affections. She grows despondent, then indignant, not knowing who she really is. Damn it all to hell, she thinks, and begins to rage her atomic breath back at them until bodies litter the open field among porta johns and food trucks and burning booths of band merch. What to be next? she muses, knowing in her heart she can be anything she chooses. At last, she rips off the makeshift garments in one grand, decisive gesture, hurls a tour bus through the air, and wails toward the sky. The smell of charred flesh has awakened in her a hunger she’s denied for far too long.
William R. Soldan is a writer from Youngstown, Ohio, and the author of the story collections In Just the Right Light and Lost in the Furrows. His debut poetry collection, So Fast, So Close, is forthcoming from Close to the Bone Publishing in December of 2020. He can be found on Twitter @RustWriter1 and the other social media platforms, as well as at williamrsoldan.com if you’d like to connect.
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