You are on a beach. The beach is beautiful, with bright orange sand and an olive green ocean lapping against the shore. The whole sky is pink. You feel like the world has been color-shifted but you can’t remember the “right” colors. Your sense of self has changed, but you do not know this yet. You walk along the beach until you come upon a small beach village. This village is full of people, and the people in it have a particular way of doing things. You are very hungry. You wander into a crowded building. There are two tables, and at these tables are mountains of food. It is a buffet. You attempt to join one of the lines until someone comes up to you and says this line is for people who have only a left arm, and the amount of food you get will be determined by how strong that arm is. You look down and see you have three arms. They are soft and supple, but do not bulge with muscle. You try to enter second line. This line’s pile of food is half the size of the pile on the first table, but is still significant. In this line you are told that you must have only a right arm, and that the food will be given out depending on how soft and supple that arm is. You point out that you do have a right arm and that it is very supple. They point out that you also have two other arms and direct you to a third table. This table is in a separate building. This building isn’t a building so much as it is a tent. The pile of food is tiny. You enter the line and you are told that you must have only a third arm, growing from the middle of your chest. Your third arm is growing from the middle of your back. They tell you that the people in the other building are most impressed by those who have a third arm growing from the middle of their chest. You say you do not have this and how can you get food. They hand you a dull knife from the cupboard and a needle and thread and tell you that you could always move your third arm to the middle of your chest. They tell you that if you really wanted to, you could also cut off your other two arms, as that would most impress the people in the other building & get you the most food. You are told that the people in the other building are very entertained by third arms growing from the middle of a person’s chest, but that extraneous limbs are too much. You are told that it is politically important right now for people who are in the other building to make sense of people who don’t have a big muscular left arm or a soft, supple right arm, but instead have a third arm growing directly from the middle of their chest. You are told that most of the people in the line at this tent have only a single third arm growing from the middle of their chest and that is why it is important right now for that to be the focus, so we can get the people in the building to love and accept us and give us more food. You notice that, while it is true that most of the people in this line have a single arm growing from the middle of their chest, that most of these limbs have scars at the base, and some of them are gangrenous and some of them are bleeding to death. You are told that you cannot enter the line for now but if you would like you can enter the courtyard and dance to impress the people from the other building while they dine. That they might give you some of their food if you impress them enough. You enter the courtyard and you see some dying people who have tried very hard to make their bodies impress the people from the other building while they dance. They are barely receiving any food at all from the people from the first building. You dance for a little bit but soon get frustrated and angry. You hate these people. You go to an abandoned corner of the courtyard and you cut off all your arms. It is incredibly painful. You leave them there on the ground and you begin to dance. Blood is pouring & spattering all around you as you dance. You dance closest to the people from the first line in the other building and you get blood all over them and their precious food. You spin and dance wildly and blood covers their faces. They are not amused. You begin to get food from the other dancers, especially from the most gangrenous & unhappy of them. It isn’t much but it rejuvenates your strength. You dance into the other building. You spin and bleed all over the food of the people in this building. You contaminate their whole food supply. They send their strongest left arm people to stop you, but you have already ruined their food. You fall down, weak from blood loss. You die happy.
MOSS ANGEL is an agender artist, writer, and scorpio living in Oregon. They are the author of Sea-Witch v.1 (2fast2house, 2017) and Sea-Witch v.2, coming in September 2017. Other books include Careful Mountain (CCM 2016), Sara or the Existence of Fire (Horse Less Press, 2014) and Wolf Doctors (Artifice Books, 2014). They are online at http://undying.club.
This piece is part of a series about the unique experiences in the literary world outside of the binary. As VIDA expands The VIDA Count to include marginalized genders that may not fit neatly into boxes, this series encourages writers to refuse to let our stories be left out as we fight against cispatriarchal discrimination and erasure and imagine what gender equity looks like for us.