Moth Boy

Blake Planty

In the boy_world we collapse on to our knees, skin them wide open, and taste the soapy flavor of our blood fresh on our tongues. I see the monitor flicker, bleed a big cyan against my retinas, forever a partner of mine at the midnight hour. I slap the windows of cars. I run down the street, hoping to catch the last train. I mix another drink in the middle of the night; I’m alone and a vegetable in my sleep. The screen is tinted a sour blue — the syringe is wet and pointed on my flesh. It enters me, pours into me that desperate hormone, and I wake up covered in sweat. The keyboards click, move as I load up the chatroom, wait for my friend to emerge from the soft-web. He doesn’t waste a second. The ping hurtles itself through my speakers like a bullet.


Geometry_Cage has logged onto boy_world!


(0:30:55) Xx_TWISTER_xX: it’s been really quiet lately

(0:31:23) Geometry_Cage: i saw something weird last night

(0:32:00) Geometry_Cage: it looks like a bug with feet. it looks like a boy.

(0:33:29) Xx_TWISTER_xX: did you?

(0:35:00) Geometry_Cage: it was so lonely and scared i took it under my blanket

(0:35:30) Geometry_Cage: it’s a boy like us. wet behind the ears. hungry and new.

(0:35:55) Geometry_Cage: i licked its eyeballs and go figure, they all taste like salt.


In the boy_world I have ten fingers that work independently. In the middle of the night, they lift themselves and pretend to be my friend. They cast shadows across the ceiling, on the walls, and stab the corners of my eyes. Geometry_Cage is on my lap and he smiles and prods the inside of my mouth, the soft bulge of my uvula, until I gag. I’m going to vomit soon. I’ve been upset ever since he brought that strange new creature into the world. He birthed it himself. From the chatroom. One night he was minding his own business, and suddenly it emerged from his desktop computer without warning. No fanfare — darkness one moment, and the hissing of a Moth Boy the next. He was so lonely and desperate the Moth Boy came to him in a dream, stepped on a nail, and cried all night. The boy didn’t know what to do — it cries because it has so many mouths. It wailed and wailed all night long. Geometry_Cage didn’t know what to do and he slapped it, but that only made it worse for the Moth Boy. He knew it would come to hate him eventually, so he thought he’d just quicken the process. But it backfired—the boy spread out its moth wings, yelled, flew away, and struck itself on the head of the ceiling fan. Geometry_Cage watched in awe as it twirled and swept the ceiling, slamming against the corner of the room like a slapstick cartoon. It was in pain. Neither of us knew what to do. We were all hungry and it was midnight when I walked into Geometry_Cage’s bedroom, where the boy was all wings and ugly tears. It was all beat up and depressed and neither of us found it funny.


(0:36:00) Xx_TWISTER_xX: it doesn’t look like anything does it?

(0:36:32) Geometry_Cage: maybe it’s mothman

(0:36:44) Geometry_Cage: i always wanted to meet mothman

(0:37:00) Xx_TWISTER_xX: i bet it’s lonely. it needs a friend.

(0:38:22) Geometry_Cage: maybe i can be its friend


I have to laugh at Geometry_Cage’s idea of a good time. We tie up the Moth Boy and watch him writhe and twist. Neither of us find it funny; no one is having a particularly good time. He isn’t going anywhere fast. I whistle and tap Moth Boy on his forehead. His proboscis extends outwards and keeps extending until it latches on to my elbow. I pry it off. It’s sticky and gooey and covered in tiny hairs. His seven good eyes gaze at me and blink in rapid succession. I take a napkin and wipe the bad one clean, hoping to tidy up the eighth. Wash it out and make it better again. But the eighth eye is swollen shut, and I’m afraid it won’t ever open. Geometry_Cage apologizes for licking it, but I don’t think he’s really sorry. Apologizing is hard and I think the Moth Boy won’t ever forgive us for that. He just stares at us with his open mouth, like a crushed statue that has been glued back together again.


In the boy_world we keep the Moth Boy tied up, let the wires bite into his ankles. We only promise to let him go as soon as he starts behaving. Geometry_Cage stands up and whips him until Moth Boy howls, and makes weird spitting noises from his mouth — I don’t know what he’s trying to say, but Moth Boy is speaking to us in tongues. I slap him upside the chin and somehow this makes the Moth Boy stop crying. He lands on his back, kicks up his legs, and begins groaning. I know he’s in pain, but I don't know how to stop it. Moth Boy throws himself on the ground, rolls and thrashes, gasping with his many mouths, all teeth and tongue. This is when Geometry_Cage has his next big idea.


(0:40:42) Geometry_Cage: let’s have him lay an egg

(0:40:59) Xx_TWISTER_xX: what

(0:41:30) Geometry_Cage: it’ll be quick and then we can have two moth boys

(0:42:00) Geometry_Cage: we’ll keep it warm and he will hatch and we’ll have two

(0:43:12) Xx_TWISTER_xX: i don’t want two ,,, what will we feed them?

(0:44:11) Geometry_Cage: we’ll open up our hormone vials and feed them from the

needle. like little babies. they will need us for everything and we’ll give it to them.

Moth Boy is weak-legged and pathetic. I don’t know how else to help him but to prop him up on my knees, feel his spindly insect legs rub against my bare calves. He stares into me as though I’m a black hole. He’s lonely and untouched by my gaze. I want to believe that he isn’t going to break his neck turning to me, but I doubt it. He seems so frail and untethered to this world, as though he will float away at any moment. I stand up and count to ten, tell him to stop crying before I slap him again. Geometry_Cage and I knock him down and ask him what planet he came from, ask what the Moths want to do with our boy_world. He’s an invader to our home-planet, it seems. It’s only natural to execute cruelty on him. His legs are wet and soft against the hard tile, slippery and insect-like. I want to gasp, hold my breath, and dig my nails deeper into Moth Boy’s scaly flesh, but he doesn’t wail or scream. He just stares at me with the whites of its eyes, full of moisture, as though I was staring back into a pond. No reflection — no hiccups or tears, a stagnant surface of water I lose myself in. I set him down, by the open window. The moon is out.


Moth Boys can fly away. Ours finally disappears in the dead of night while Geometry_Cage and I look the other way. Not even an egg is left behind — it makes us miserable. Makes us feel like failures. As though we were petty thieves trying to keep something alive that clearly wanted death. I don't have any sympathy for the Moth Boy and neither does Geometry_Cage. He's lonely and picks his scabs in the middle of the night. Moth Boy whined, depriving us of sleep. Geometry_Cage counts on his fingers how many nights Moth Boy’s been away. He wonders when he will return. As though Moth Boy was a season that came and went while we watched summer screen doors. Hurricane season is coming. A cold-front will rattle our glass windows. Rain comes and pools in tires and invites the mosquitoes to breed, making bright red mounds on our arms and legs. I scratch them, thinking of larvae, of squirming tiny bodies festering under an open sore. Of thousands of tiny little Moth Boys hatching in June.


The trees are beginning to leak the closer it gets to summer. If the Moth Boy were here, he would slurp up all the tree sap. His proboscis and antennae would smell us, prod and dig until it came across our bite marks. Anything that wasn't the tangy flavor of sinews and muscle. We sit cross-legged on the porch waiting indefinitely, watching rain drop and grass grow. The tree bark is stained a deep, sticky sweet brown. We light a candle at the edge of the porch, place it on a chamberstick, and flick the lighter. The wax will pool like a creamy white pond. A tiny prayer for the Moth Boy tonight. A sliver of blue light from our monitors in the dead day. I taste saltiness in my mouth, the loneliness of eight prying eyes.


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