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It was there on the frozen roads of Baltimore, where buildings rise out of the ground like infirm old hands, that I saw the Thing.

Small, bent in on itself, hardly moving; Its skin rough and weathered like old wood. Gnarled was the word.

Whether It was still living, or planned to bid goodbye to this long excess called life, was a question left unanswered.

Curious as I was, I immediately turned to you, eyes wide open: was It alive? Would It be okay? And, more urgently - could I bring It home with us?


The issue, you see, was that you weren't there. You were somewhere in that warm cocoon you had carefully threaded for yourself, some thousand miles away. I could see you sipping on your rapidly cooling tea, frowning at words that weren't mine and peeking into lives ever more bright, ever less beautiful than those behind the screen.


A small noise filtered through my half-formed thoughts. I breathed another sigh and drifted my attention back to the Thing, which was now groaning and twitching slightly.

I've always had a habit of bringing monsters back with me. I've never found them to be gruesome; they were all beautiful to me, with their rough embraces and scorched eyes. Some quiet observers I picked up on the sidelines of tragedies, others I glimpsed at the far end of noisy, light-speckled rooms.

A few were of my own making.

They always find their way to me, silently screaming as I tend to their wounds, while I eat them whole and pick my teeth with their bones. And when all is done, I tenderly gather their remains and try to piece them back together again. The right way, this time.

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Thoughts are pulsating like fireflies in my head as I think of how to bring this Darling home to you, to show you how beautiful It is in all of Its grotesque symmetry. You would probably breathe out exasperation and disbelief, even though nothing you could do would hide the small glint of excitement in your panther eyes. Your dissuasion would be strong in words and weak in resolve, and maybe we would have another Thing in our lives.

I often wonder about how I came to know you.

Edgewise, and always looking into your eyes; there was little said, and nothing given at first. I remember thinking how a wrong movement with you would surely be my last. It would be an end met with claws and teeth, rich warm blood and silence through it all.


I looked at It some more, as Its breathing became more laborious and heavy. Then I side-stepped It, carefully, and kept walking into the crisp morning, among the gaunt claws of the quiet city. 


Zayn Thiam is a visual artist and performer who landed in DC after hopping around the globe. You can find their work on Instagram, here and here.