“Once the habit is accepted it means something. And then, to break it means something too.” This was the caption I used to share a picture of ‘Mrs. Caliban’ on Instagram. Every so often I’ll try to posture as a quirkily read enigma and share only the books I just finished with a quote from it. This particular post only received 5 likes, maybe because I followed the quote by adding “we need more monster fucker books with happier endings.”
This was in a post-Shape of Water world so I thought it would be better received. Although it predates the film by several decades, the cover of Rachel Ingalls’ novella does evoke similar imagery with its obviously anthropomorphized amphibian leaping behind an equally dynamic woman. The book explores the relationship between these figures: an amphibian man on the run and Dorothy, the unhappy housewife. I thought the picture visually pleasing enough to at least break into the double digits, but I suppose asking happiness for deviance can be a hard sell.
It’s that word, monster. The character himself is first identified by those hunting him as Aquarius the Monsterman. How else could 1950s scientists begin to reckon with this encounter of other life but by flinging him to the stars? The name reminds me of a SoundCloud rapper fuckboy who kept me on the hook for four years by force of sporadic DMs alone. Perhaps because he was an Aquarius or perhaps because that dalliance was also difficult to name. Who were we to each other? A fling? Coworkers? Fleeting lovers? Or, god forbid, friends? That relationship is finally fully behind me and still the best I can come up with to describe us is ‘a thing’. Shapeless enough to see ourselves in it. Its edges diffused enough to avoid each other’s gaze whenever convenient. I’m hesitant to name because it will inevitably anger me. The impulse to name can shove a blame into existence. Now we owe things to each other, like explanations. Or time.
I also resist to name because I want to rid myself of him. If I don’t say I’m in love with someone, then I don’t have to deal with it. But once I do they become a participant, knowingly or not. To name is to capture. Scrapbook. Frame. Sure, monster is other, monster is horror, monster is enormity. What is often forgotten about the roots of the word monster is that it signifies a divine omen. It’s usually a bad omen, but divine nonetheless. And the divine is corporeally inaccessible. But monsters? Those fuckers are rock solid.
Aquarius the Monsterman was renamed Larry because he couldn’t pronounce his first title while learning to speak. It’s that name that endears us to him. If to name is to capture, renaming is the release. Concession. Renaming does not dissolve any name that comes before or after. It begs for love to be constantly renamed and redefined, forever uncapturable. Divine once again. What could be more divine than love?
Monsters rip love from the heavens and gift it to us humans. It’s how Larry and Dorothy love each other. They’re in awe of each other.
“Because he was so different, she was not bothered by him seeing her still in her bathrobe, with her hair straggling.”Only with a monster could you discard the barrier of habit. It’s the grace given to something so beyond our reality that every structure and rule we know becomes meaningless. And that means something.
Laura Andrea is a writer from Carolina, Puerto Rico. They hold an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Texas at El Paso. Her work can be found in Pussy Magic, The Rio Grande Review, Acentos Review, and Brave Voices Magazine, among others. She’s always looking for a good park to read, write, and divinate in. You can follow their day to day on Instagram & Twitter @lauranlora