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Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Day in the Life of a Two-Headed Lizard

I don't know what food tastes like.

It looks like I have to find out.

The thing that eats died yesterday. It was a head, bigger than me, with deep orange spikes rising off its frill and brown bumps, much rougher than mine, rising all over its nose like the pebbles on the cage floor. It stayed with me all the time, connected to my neck. I don't know why. I guess it liked using my body, telling me where to go. Every now and then I would take control--you know, think about moving a claw to scratch my nose--but I think it thought the body belonged to it. I didn't mind. I'd look around. I'd feel the gravel under my clawpads. His--for he must be a he, since I am a he--neck muscles would pull against mine, and I'd look a different direction. Sometimes he bumped me against the glass. Cool, smooth.

Best of all, I'd watch him tear into crickets--feel the energy, the thrill, as my body leapt at them. My eyes would glimmer with his as he snapped his head. Crunch. Little feelers waved slow goodbye as he held them there, crushed between his teeth, for just a second before the gulp. I would listen for the gulp. It meant soon I'd feel the tickle of their antennae in my throat as our muscles rippled to push it down. Down there, it felt good. My blood would run with its green energy, and I felt good.

But something fell on Eating-Head yesterday. The Soft-Claw, the giant pink one that feels moist and spongy like rough moss under my toe-pads--it lifted us out for a walk. We bumped something. Something fell. It pounded on my neck with a sharpness like the cry of a hungry-crow. Heavy. I screamed. Soft-Claw roared and pulled the heavy off. 

But Eating-Head's shriek gurgled into a slow whine, and now he doesn't eat anymore.

Soft-Claw cut him off of me before the death-smell became too strong. The searing tear as the knife rasped through hard skin, squicked through soft flesh, crunched through bone! My whole body shuddered with one long pang, a body-scream that tore at my brain like lightning into my eyes. Get me out! Run, run! Bite, bite!

Then those violences stopped. A tension snapped. I turned to look--my head now turned without any neck muscles pulling the other way. Light. Weight gone. Eating-Head lay next to me, scarlet oozing out of its neck-hole, empty black eyes blaming me for letting it go, for not biting, for not running. But I never do those things. It did those things.

More body-screams. Soft-Claw wove a sharp metal with string through the hole on me where Eating-Head had been. The hole closed.

Now Eating-Head is gone. I am alone. My down-there, my inside, my middle-core--it's empty. It's juicing, gurgling, aching. It wants. It wants so much. It wants that cricket blood.

I know how to pull liquid into it. I dip my head into the clear coolness, the glass that isn't hard, and soak it down. I've always done that. But when Soft-Claw drops crickets, I cannot snap. When Soft-Claw drops the little dead squiggles of red meat Eating-Head loved, they stick on my tongue. I want them down. But I've never put them down. They don't flow like the water. They glob. They need breaking. Eating-Head always broke them. I always watched.

Always watched.

Now I wait. I sniff. The deep red scent drives my head mad, my vision blurry. I want it in.

But I've always only watched.

Inspired by the two-headed lizard Jekyll and Hyde, here. Important note to consider: in two-headed animals, there is almost always a dominant, which is why two-headed snakes do not survive long (the dom eats the other). Please remember that conjoined twins who are joined at the neck are not like animals. There is not necessarily a dominant, and this story is not meant to imply in any way that any conjoined twin lives life "watching" the other, although in some historical cases this has been a fact. This isn't a story about that. 

This is a story about me and you.

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