Once upon a time, there was a girl who had an official name – the name on her birth certificate, a name for bureaucrats and people who didn’t know her well – and a true name. The true name was Thing.
Thing was taught charts and graphs early on. She knew one’s beautiful years must be maximized for profit.
Thing was not symmetrically beautiful, but this too was an asset to be maximized – rich men with brains got bored of traditional beauty, the same set of breasts, the same set of lips, they weren’t collectibles. If you broke one, you could always get another.
Thing’s looks and intelligence made her a collectible. Rich men with brains came up to her at parties and lit her cigarettes for her and informed her of the fact. “If I broke you, I couldn’t get another of you,” they said.
Intelligence was problematic, though. It wouldn’t be bought. Instead it cried out inside her like a child lost in a fairy tale forest, worried about the possibility that there were creatures with teeth in it.
Intelligence wouldn’t let Thing sleep at night. And the men next to her couldn’t sleep either. And men like that valued sleep.
To be perfectly honest, intelligence always had it in for Thing.
It caused her much suffering when she was young, because she couldn’t figure out who she was. This upset the boys.
Things were supposed to be things, boys knew that, their mothers and fathers and gods and televisions had taught them, and a thing that didn’t act accordingly was engaged in false advertising.
She deserved to be punished, and punished she was, painfully and repeatedly, in a way that left marks.
The marks of pain spread inside Thing and grew darker. The darkness covered more and more territory and became a breakaway republic. There was war there, and death, and yowling cats, and cockroaches whispering across cracked plaster inside lightless buildings.
Thing liked it, though she would not say so, aware of the fact that nobody would light her cigarettes at parties if she let on about what was going on inside her, and lighter fluid was expensive, truth be told.
In high school, Thing had been an ugly duckling – you’d think that this would’ve forced her to open up to the possibility that if no man wanted her to be his thing, she could try being human. But nobody taught a class on being human. There weren’t any pamphlets she could read.
So Thing went through life and paused in the archways of the night and listened for the wolves who could always smell the darkness on her. Continue reading “Thing, a short biography”