Zoo Kept

Of course, my parents thought it’d be alright to name me Bran. I came out and they took a quick look at me and decided “That’s a Bran, alright.” Bran Fletcher. Could have had a Y in there, could have been an I. But Bran Fletcher.

The doc knew something was wrong. They were clipping my nails five minutes after the fact. They must have told my parents to buckle up. Even when I was little, they were keeping tabs on every part of my existence. New definition of helicopter parents. Dad was always somewhere by school just in case, mom was always calling every half hour to check with the nurse if I’d been in or was in or whatnot. If I’d taken my “supplements”, et cet. I knew they weren’t for my benefit; they were for zoo-keeping.

At least, only one kid screamed at me on the first day of preschool. I thought it was gonna be way more. The teachers were respectful through the years, except Ms. O’Brien. She took me aside and tried to throw me away and whispered that I was an abomination. Shifting and growing all over like a Satanic abomination, I think she said. That’s a nun for you. My parents threatened to sue her but I begged them not to make me stand out more. I should have shut up.

You don’t see outside of a bubble from the inside as clearly as the other way around, is the moral. They had me covered on every angle like a marshmallow. Good old mom and dad. The poor Fletchers, with their freak kid. The kid like a chameleon, like a tornado, going everywhere, looking like a mess. They passed before they could see all that disappear. They were gone before it got better.

Somehow, I ended up in high school, but that didn’t last long. High schoolers aren’t polite like younger shits. Nothing is off-limits in puberty times. They’d steal all my meds then take pictures of what happened. They’d steal my normal day away from me.

It’s sounding like self-pity, I know. And you told me not to do that. Quite the bar therapist you are. Yeah, real deep into the psychology. You’re shitty too; you’re waiting for something to happen. Something to happen to me. Yeah, you’re shitty. No mistake there.

That’s why I don’t tell people shit about what happened to me, because their eyes look like they’re seeing Dracula in the flesh, like they’re about to see an explosion. Fuck them. Now you know I’ve been drinking. Fuck them. You know, the news crews would spy on me. I used to be the famous freak. You’re too young to realize it, and I’m glad. Otherwise you would have been looking at me like this for way longer.

Yeah, I’m drinking, I’m drunk, I’m trashed. Who’s surprised? The way things go, I might as well consider you a friend. Right? You want to be my friend? I mean that so sarcastically. A gorilla isn’t friends with the kid who fell in. That’s what you and the world are, the kid who fell in. No, it makes perfect sense.

Nobody through my whole childhood could explain what was going on with me, but I figured it out. I just figured it out a few years ago. Figured out my “condition”, as the legion of assholes would say. You want to hear it? I was looking up at the sun and figured it out: everybody’s fucked, but I am more so fucked.

And now you have this nerve, some nerve, to look irritated at me. Who should be irritated? Me or you? Better yet, angry? I’m angry now, actually. Telling some bullshit stranger about the freak, the secrets. Like you ever did anything for me besides listen for a minute. I know what your look means, asshole. I know what everybody’s look means. I can see you too!

Keep waiting for it. That’s all gone now, and I’m still like this. Still feeling it, feeling like a fucking comic book mutant. That’s the way people’s eyes feel on your skin, pricking you until you give them a show of bleeding.

Cover my tab and get bent, shithead.