THIRTEEN HAUNTS OF HALLOWEEN
Frankenstein’s monster: often erroneously referred to as "Frankenstein”, is a fictional character who first appeared in Mary Shelley's 1818 novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. Shelley's title thus compares the monster's creator, Victor Frankenstein, to the mythological character Prometheus, who fashioned humans out of clay and gave them fire. In Shelley's Gothic story, Victor Frankenstein builds the creature in his laboratory through an ambiguous method consisting of chemistry and alchemy. Shelley describes the monster as 8-foot-tall (2.4 m), hideously ugly, but sensitive and emotional.
He calls me many things, but Fable most of all.
I am told that is my name, but that I used to have others. There is a name for every piece of me. A name for the heart, a name for arms, a name for the legs and the throat and the head, a name for the lungs - aided by mechanics that creak and sometimes need repairs with wrenches and pliers and tanks full of gas called oxygen that The Great He says make me real.
I think I am real without the machines, but He does not agree. He tells me that I need Him to stay alive. He tells me that I would not exist without Him. I cannot disagree; I do not remember a life before him. The brain, with its other-name, does not hold memories before the bare lightbulb in the basement and the silver bed He laid me on, still lays me on each night. He covers my mouth with masks that pump oxygen into my half-robotic lungs and forces my chest to heave up and down and up and down with more force than I could produce on my own. It’s fascinating to watch, until He tapes my eyelids shut because, He says, they to rest. I need to rest. He says that He must close my eyes for me, because He could not make my nerves and reflexes work the way they’re supposed to. He must help me rest, He says. He does this because He loves me, He says. But I don’t know if He means it.
He attaches sticky circles to my chest and sometimes they shock me with great big jolts that make skin tingle. He says that’s for the heart - it sometimes stops, because it thinks it’s dead, but he knows it wants to be alive.
“Where did it come from?” I ask, but he does not answer.
He does not like to answer questions. When I ask them, he shakes his head and turns away to the picture on his desk. It is nestled in a gold-plated frame. The picture is of a boy, and the boy has His eyes and His nose. The mouth looks similar, but the boy is smiling, and He never does.
I think He wants to love me, but he does not know how.
I think He wants me to be someone else, but I do not know how.
I do not know why He made me. I know it has something to do with the boy in the gold-plated picture frame. I know this because when I look in the mirror, I think I look like the boy. We have the same kind of shaggy dark hair and the some color eyes - mine look more gray, but I think that when they had their other-name they looked more like the boy’s.
The boy’s name was Seth. I know this because it is the name He whispers when He has put me to sleep for the night. I can hear Him on the nights that He forgets to plug my ears - for quiet, He says, is important for rest. I hear Him pick up the picture frame and tell Seth how much He loves him. How much He misses him. How hard He’s trying to keep him alive.
He calls me Fable, and when I found his library and his battered college dictionaries, I found out what that means. A Fable is a story. A Fable is not real. It is make-believe, sometimes called a folktale and sometimes called a myth, sometimes written to teach a lesson to children in storytime circles so that they might leave that circle better people who make better choices and live better lives.
I do not think that I am make-believe, and I do not think I was made to teach lessons.
But still, He calls me Fable. He calls me Fable, and He calls me Son, and there are tears in His eyes when He sometimes slips and calls me Seth. And the longer we live together, the more nights He tucks me onto that metal bed and covers my nose and mouth and glues those little circles to my chest and tables my eyelids shut, He kisses my forehead and then He kisses the picture and when He turns out the lights I hear Him start to call me Monster.
I look up this word, too. Another name that I am not sure suits me, but I have learned that it does not do to argue - not with Him. He calls me Monster, and if my eyes could still cry I think I might shed tears. He stops kissing my forehead. He stops calling me Son.
He even stops calling me Fable.
He has given me all the names I have, including all the other-names my body is made of. He has given me my names and my life and I don’t know why, but when He starts calling me Monster I think He is taking it all away. He stops letting me rest. My lungs revert; they seek their other-name and give up mine. They do not want to be Monster. My heart, too, starts to slow.
“I’ll die,” I tell Him, “if you do not help.”
“Monster,” He tells me, “you were never meant to live.”
“But I want to,” I tell Him. I tell Him over and over.
“Monster,” He tells me, “you were never meant to want.”
“Why, then?” I ask Him. “Why am I here?”
“Monster,” He tells me, “you will not be much longer.”