Love Changes Us
by K. C. Norton
Love does funny things to you. I know that. Still, I'm not prepared for the little tendrils of skin that come shooting out of me. They're like translucent moles, but much too long and skinny. Plus they have minds of their own.
"I want them gone," I tell mother.
She pats my head. "Don't worry. They'll go, or you'll get used to them. Either way..."
Not good enough. I pick at them, but they're too strong. In the end I use nail clippers to shear them off so that the roots are flush with my skin. They don't bleed. The scars are barely noticeable. Before long they're nothing but little white patches, rough when I touch them. Nothing more.
"You're looking better," says Roberta. "Did you and Zatch'tal break up?"
I laugh and kiss her cheek. "Of course we didn't." Not that we're officially dating. We meet by the lockers sometimes, kiss a little, entwine our phalanges. We're both a little leery of the public eye, what people will say, what they'll think. After all, I'm younger, my genus and gender easily defined, while she's older, in better shape, blue in the dark and green in direct sunlight. Also, though I call her "she," she's a series of in bits and out bits. If we ever get that far I guess we'll figure out my sexuality based on which parts we put to use, but really I like all of her. She's mastered the art of sarcasm, which is uncommon for her species. They're a dense and very literal people. She's complicated, which is exciting.
Roberta has never had translucent moles. Poor thing, to have never been in love.
I notice the next change getting out of the bath. As I'm removing the cotton from my ears--there is nothing less attractive in my genus than an ear infection--I catch a glimpse of my elbows, which have gone completely bald.
My scream is higher-pitched than I would have anticipated. My mother comes running, her eyes wide, totally out of breath.
"What?" she asks. "What's wrong?"