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"Become Her Too" by Nayt Rundquist


CW: violence



She’s fuzzy. She might shatter into her pieces—a Lego spaceship bouncing down every stair. She’s buzzing like something bad something so very wrong is forever about to happen. The skin on her neck and under her hair and down the backs of her arms and across her shoulders will keep prickling and pimpling until it tears right off of her.

Her light-ups are pounding stomping pounding through crispy crackly leaves, Her legs are pumping aching pumping, Her eyes are searching watching for that monster. That skinless pale beast creaking shrieking after her. That ghoul. She can’t see it, but the everywhere tastes like too many sour gummy worms and cherry cough medicine, tastes like that monster. That ghoul.

Wind scratches at her eyes—claws at her face—chafes her mind and spirit, wishing she could collapse and cry. Frantic thoughts lead her in chaotic circles, only driving her away from the sounds of whatever-it-is charging toward her to eat her, pull her to bits, drag her to its cave to be its playtoy.

Tumbling behind a naked big tree she shakes; her souring lungs are tattered newspapers. Smoothing her skin back into place, pressing firm, choking back snot tears, her throat is crackly, and she wonders whispers if she is transforming into that monstrous thing. Is that her werewolf shape? She won’t howl at the moon and run free through the woods, wind whipping through her fur. She’ll scratch and scramble after children. She’ll terrify her friends until their own skins peel off and they become her too.

Hiccupping now, her ribs rotten teeth, trying to tumble out of her and scatter away. Mom would be able to dry her tearstains—whisper a lullaby song and feed her peanut butter cookies to settle her. But Mom’s somewhere else if she still exists. If she hasn’t peeled apart layer by layer—skin and muscles and bones and guts until she isn’t any more.

Through the buzzing she can almost feel the scratching dead dying leaves blanketing the ground harder and colder than their staircase. Colder and harder than each stair she’s bouncing down, tearing her Legos from each other, scattering down and down and down. Heart is flashing flickering flipping trying to keep pace with her shredding breaths, falling further farther further behind. Are her eyes pounding or her heart? her breath? her feet still running even off the ground even without moving even lying there racing.

When her legs might have reformed solid enough, she trembles to her feet. Those scraggly fingers flash in her eyes and she runs, not waiting for the monster’s ragged cry to crackle in between the sour.

The trees uproot and dance around her, claw at her like it had. Grasping, gruff fingers catch at her windtossed hair and yank. And she screams. But her lungs are in too many pieces to make much sound.

Her legs tell her they have to stop, they’ll be a doll’s, pop off if she doesn’t lie down—doesn’t take a nap. Just a little nap. The sound of Mom dropping something in the disposal is right behind her. Those light-ups twirl her around and it’s right there.

Shattered, jagged ribs flex in and out and in and out and her ribs gasp too. Jaw dangling off to one side and her jaw aches, a sharp line through that side. Long greasy greywhite hairs, Clawhands grasping reaching grasping and she grasps for it—a humming warm eye in the storm howling around them. And she reaches for it, gasping, gropes for it. Every part of her, every Lego brick in her body yanks her backward, warns against touching.

But fingers slide through thick sour air and buzz as they get closer. They want to fly back, but they’re drawn pulled sucked forward. She has to touch it.


And she does.



And her skin peels off her, tearing a really stuck band-aid off her whole body. & everything, everywhere, everywhen, neverywhere pops. A quick loud flash blinds her ears & then nothing.




Not blackness, but Nothing. When she can’t wake up from a dream, but she hasn’t fallen asleep yet. Knowing how to spell a word but forgetting how to draw the letters. Being glued motionless under her blankets when too many teeth shine from the shadowy corner of her room

Her skin tastes like fire but smells like the giant organ at church. When it plays & fills her up with music. Her hair sounds cold, that crisp first step out the door on a snow day. Her rib’s remnants were arriving home after a long trip. Teeth have crumbled into gummy emptiness, but all she wants to do is bite something—chew until the world rebuilds & rights itself.

She’s dissolving—when Mom stirs the powder into their drink, but she’s that gritty bit left on the bottom. Clinging to the pitcher, the glass. She’s those couple Legos that won’t fall apart, will hold tight to each other after bouncing on each step. Her fingers graze the idea that she is.

Her dissolving tongue dances with lilacs, cinnamon, vanilla, chocolate chips. Deafening tangy sweet drowns her, replaces that thick sour. After the scratchy sweater of Nothing, she’s warm & cold & stretching stretching stretching—across the world, universe, forever, eternity, nowhere.



Nayt Rundquist (they/them) is an award-winning anthologist; writer of weird things; editor of best-selling books; and professor of creative writing, literature, and publishing courses. Their odd scribblings can be found in Inverted Syntax, Digging Through the Fat, X-R-A-YLit Mag, Fast Flesh Literary, The Citron Review, and anthologized in Unbound: Composing Home (New Rivers Press 2022). They live just outside space and time with their artist-jeweler wife and their fifth-dimensional dogs.

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