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strange in my skin (need to feel human again)

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Hitsohi threw his backpack on his bed, reluctantly flopping into his desk chair. He looked longingly at his bed. Maybe if he just laid down for a few – no. No. Not today Satan. Today he was going to be productive and do the paper that he’d been putting off for three weeks.

Speaking of Satan, however, reminded Hitoshi what else was in his backpack other than ten books of torture. Hitoshi sighed, begrudgingly dragging himself over to his bed and grabbing his backpack before sitting back down on his desk chair. He almost sat on the bed. Phew, that was a close one.

Hitoshi opened his backpack, the smell of raw meat wafting towards him. Gross. You’d think the deli would wrap it better, he went and got their scraps every day, but god forbid anything go right for him. Whatever, it was worth it.

Sure, it was kind of an adjustment getting used to the demon under his bed, but it had never hurt him. Honestly, he thinks that it didn’t even want to be seen by him. He’d fallen asleep in the middle of eating dinner on his bed and knocked his plate over. Hitoshi chuckles lightly at the memory, the crash of the dish waking him up and then the heart attack when he saw a clawed hand reach out from under the bed to grab it.

He’d screamed for a good ten minutes, causing both his dads to come running into the room, expecting the worse: like a spider or a second crisis where he thought he wasn’t gay and was lying to himself the whole time. But instead they just had to check under his bed for a monster like he was 12 again. ‘Zashi had been sympathetic but Hitoshi could see the smirk hiding beneath his concerned expression, and Dad wasn’t even trying to hide his laughter when he reminded him that he shouldn’t have watched Stranger Things.

Once they left though, Hitoshi got on his hands and knees and looked under the bed himself. He knew he wasn’t imagining things, plus his sandwich was fucking gone. That wasn’t an imaginary sandwich and there wasn’t an imaginary monster under his bed. Hitoshi had been about to give up when he saw two glowing eyes open in the darkness, seemingly floating.

His breath had caught in his throat, but he’d came this far and now he had validation. He wasn’t crazy. Or he was even crazier than he thought? Hitoshi ignored that thought.

“Blink once for yes, twice for no.” The monster’s eyes didn’t move, just stared at him. Into him? It certainly felt like they were staring into him. If this didn’t work Hitoshi was gonna feel like a moron.

“Do you understand me?”

One blink.

“Are you going to eat me?”

Two blinks. Hitoshi exhaled.

“Are you going to kill me?”

Two blinks.
The monster looked like they were trying to aggressively convey via blinks how much they weren’t going to kill him. Now that Hitoshi was less worried for his imminent death, he was fascinated by the eyes. They were yellow and looked like reflecting glass, sparkling and luminescent in the light that leaked under Hitoshi’s bed.

“Can you talk?”

One blink. Then the monster squinted his eyes before closing them, before opening them again and they must have moved their head because the eyes moved. Two blinks.

“So you can talk, but not to me, for some reason?”

One blink.

Hitoshi smiled, he was glad this was all going so smoothly. He wasn’t valedictorian for nothing.

“Do you have a name?”

Hitoshi shook his head at himself. Dumb question. Even if the monster had a name, obviously they couldn’t tell him it if they couldn’t talk to him. Hitoshi held up his hand to stop the monster before they responded.

“Can I give you a name?”

One blink.

Hitoshi looked into those sparkling yellow eyes again.

“How about sparky?”

One blink.

Hitoshi smiled. This was gonna be great! He always wanted a pet of his own. Or younger sibling. Or whatever. He moved to get up before he stopped himself.

“Do you need food?”

One blink. Pause. One blink. Pause. One blink. Pause

Okay, yes. Enthusiastic yes. Hitoshi could do that. Maybe he could even use this to prove to his dads that he deserved to get a cat of his own, like the three cats they already had weren’t enough. Even though the monster might eat the cat.

Hitoshi bent back down to ask if the monster ate cats but was met with nothing but black silence under his bed. Well. He’d just have to ask them next time.

Hitoshi was brought out of his train of thought by the sound of scratching increasing in volume from under his bed. Yeah, yeah, he knew.
Hitoshi placed the bundle of raw meat and scraps next to his bed, in the wrapping. He learned early on the demon wasn’t exactly picky and this saved on clean up anyway. Hitoshi loved this part, watching the yellow scaled hand, long black talons looking terrifying in the glint of day hesitantly reach out from under the bed. He’d never seen the monster, he hadn’t even seen the hand and the eyes at the same time. But this was pretty good anyway.

Once the slightly unholy sound of crunching stopped from under the bed, Hitoshi laid down on his stomach and stared into the inky blackness before he saw the yellow eyes open. Sometimes he did this, just talked about his day and what happened, or sometimes he would read from his schoolbooks. Sometimes he would try to ask the monster questions, but they would get distracted, eventually withdrawing. It was probably a sensitive subject.

“Are you,” Hitoshi hesitated. He’d never asked this question before, he had no idea why, but it felt important to know now. “Are you a monster?”

The eyes looked at him, unblinking for a second before blinking twice. They seemed sad.

“Not that I think you’re a monster. Just like, conceptually? Do you have a title for what you are?”

One blink.

“Oh.” Hitoshi mulled that over. Maybe he should google this again, there must be something out there. Someone else who got to see this.

“Are you a…ghost?”

Two blinks. Okay, now it just seemed like the monster was laughing at him. Or not-monster.

“Are you a demon?”

One blink.

“Oh.” Oh. That was cool, Hitoshi guessed. He was pretty fuzzy on where the line for demon versus monster was, but that’s fine. If Sparky wanted to be called a demon, then demon they shall be called.

Hitoshi knew he was reaching the demon’s limit, could sense the wariness that always took over the demon when he started asking too many questions. That was fine.

“Thanks for answering. I have this paper I should do, but I don’t want to. I managed to get through lunch without talking to anyone again. That was nice.”

Hitoshi fell asleep mid-sentence, laying on his carpet looking under his bed. If he’d stayed awake he would have felt a hand reach out and brush away the hair from his forehead, but instead he just breathed out softly and rolled over.

Hitoshi came home after another exhausting day at school. Well, every day was exhausting, but especially when he had school and especially today. He didn’t even bother pretending like he was gonna get work done, just threw his backpack on the ground and flopped onto his bed. Graduation was tomorrow, and you’d think that the exhaustion that he carried around with him would take a day off for once, but that was obviously impossible.

Hitoshi was about to drift off when he heard light scratches underneath his bed, not loud enough to wake him if he was already asleep. It almost sounded like Sparky the Demon was trying to get to the food in his backpack without waking him up.

“I got it, hold on, hold on.”

Hitoshi reached down to his backpack and opened it, placing the bundle of raw meat on the floor. The claws seemed even more hesitant to grab it today.

“I’m okay, just tired. Don’t worry about me.”

A singular claw made a scratching noise underneath his bed.

“I’m serious. Don’t worry.”

Hitoshi drifted off after that, falling into a fitful sleep. He awoke hours later, grasping the sheets underneath him and soaked through with sweat. Sleep, his ultimate friend and also his ultimate betrayer.

It was the same nightmare; a rain slicked street, a red light, the sound of slipping breaks, a weightless feeling as the car flips over. Overlaid with images of foster home after foster home, punch, hit, kick from other kids. From foster parents. Sure, it all ended with his Dad, but that doesn’t mean the memories weren’t there and didn’t leave him feeling gutted every time.

Hitashi wished he was 9 years old again, just moved in with Dad and able to crawl into his bed, knocking over the book he was reading and bury his face into his chest. He knew that he could do that now, that Dad wouldn’t care and that ‘Zashi would be there to hug him too and pet his hair. But he was an adult now, he guesses, and part of adulthood was getting used to this.

Hitoshi angrily wiped away the tears forming in the corner of his eyes and reached down to his backpack for his water bottle before remembering that he’d left it downstairs earlier. Great. Of course, he did. Classic Hitoshi’s life.

He left his hand hanging there in defeat, mind drifting towards Sparky. Demons don’t have these problems, bet. Sparky probably just ascends to blissful demon unconsciousness and doesn’t have stupid nightmares. What a life.

Emotions threatened to overwhelm Hitoshi again, and he screwed his eyes shut. He hated this. He hated being a slave to his emotions, hated showing them even more. Fuck this.

“Hey, Sparky. You’re probably not awake right now, but” Hitoshi hesitated. This was so stupid. “But, do you think you could hold my hand? I just” Hitoshi’s breath caught. How pathetic. All he wanted was to hold someone’s hand and all the hand he had to hold was the monster under his bed.

Hitoshi was jolted out of his spiraling thoughts by the smooth feeling of scales against his hand, and when he looked down a yellow hand was in his, claws carefully kept away from his skin. Hitoshi stared at their intertwined hands a little longer. This was nice.

“Thanks, Sparky.”

Hitoshi was drifting back off to sleep when he heard the reply. A soft, high voice, rough from misuse came from under the bed.

“Anytime, Hitoshi.”