Frankenstein.. It’s NOT really a Monster Story

An Excerpt from Xperiment by Dan Skinner

“Words have power and extraordinary weight. Words can destroy, inspire, or drain the repositories of hope.” Robert Lindell Seuthers speaking before the John Locke Foundation.“Language can build worlds, or lead to their ruination. They can be nectar or poison. The content of a man’s character can be ascertained by what he says. They have the ability to show light or darkness, a proclivity to war or peace, good or its opposite, hatred or love….”

It was true that the words they shared on the park bench changed everything. For Geoff the relief that he was not alone in his feelings gave him a freedom unlike anything else he’d experienced.

His joy colored the world with a vibrancy that made all things seem new.

There were no dramatic changes to their lives. The mundane chores still existed as they had before, cooking breakfast, doing the dishes, making the beds. The difference was in the feeling that they were being done together rather than separately.

As much as Geoff desired to be with Chris physically, and he thought about it often, he knew Chris was an innocent. He told Geoff that, and expressed his own desire to ease into the physical part of their relationship. He’d blushed when he made the confession. They still slept in separate beds, but they looked forward to their goodnight kiss.

Geoff had lost himself in the rapture of finally having a dream fulfilled. He hadn’t played his video games, or checked if there were any new ones loaded on his shiny gold phone. He looked forward to reading to Chris because he would crawl in bed next to him, and Geoff could feel his warmth. The world around them could spin as it wanted, theirs revolved in a space that only included them.

They finished Frankenstein that weekend. Reading it reminded him of how different the movies were from the book.

“It’s not really a monster story,” Chris said after a thoughtful pause.

Geoff wanted a drink after reading for two hours. His throat was parched, but he didn’t want to move and disturb their closeness. He enjoyed feeling Chris’ bare leg against his.

“What d’ya mean?”

He moved closer, propped himself on an elbow. “Haven’t you noticed that all the classic horror tales have a standard theme running through them? Phantom of the Opera, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, King Kong, Beauty and The Beast and Frankenstein?”

“I’m not seeing the connection other than they’re monster stories.”

“They’re all outcasts, misfits; the underdog who wants to have a family, friends and love. The bad guys in most stories are the people who have all those things and show no pity for the outcast who doesn’t. The real monsters in the stories are the regular guys.” He reached for the book, found it under Geoff’s hand, and laid his on top. “Who do you feel sympathy for? Who is the one being treated unfairly?”

He had a point. Geoff never once felt any sympathy for Dr. Frankenstein. He wanted to create life and when he succeeded, couldn’t face that it wasn’t what he considered to be beautiful. Even the poor creature knew his creator despised him, doomed him to a life of loneliness, and exacted his revenge by letting him know what it felt like to be alone in the world. He never felt hate for the creature. He empathized his despair.

“The stories aren’t really about being ugly or monstrous, but about being human and needing companionship.

He loved the irony. “So… yay, monsters?”

Chris did a thumbs up. “You betcha. Yay monsters!”

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EXCERPT: Memorizing You By Dan Skinner

The magnificent “event” that changed everything began with a hand. The

simple sight of a hand. To this day I can’t forget the exquisite beauty of that

hand. Like a Michelangelo painting. It held a number two yellow pencil over a

spiral notebook filled with almost perfect writing. The other hand traced words

over a seventh grade American History book. I remember the olive-skinned hand

now as if it’s bathed in luminous sunlight, even though I knew it couldn’t have

been since the windows were to the back of the classroom.

But that hand mesmerized me. Made me look at my own and wonder why it

wasn’t as perfect. I studied those flawless fingers diligently holding the pencil,

the way it moved across the paper. And it seemed to me, at that moment, there

was nothing on earth that had greater beauty.

And it was then I noticed something completely different in me. Some kind

of sensation of longing and need. I felt instantly hot all over, sensed droplets of

sweat in my hairline. They trickled to my collar with each heavy drumbeat of my

heart. My mouth went dry. I wondered, “What is this? What is this feeling? What is

this fascination?”

I’ve no clue how long I sat hypnotized. I just remember the spell was broken

when he turned to look at me with those bright brown eyes…and smiled. The

smile that changed everything. The smile that I can remember more than forty

years later with concise clarity.

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