Remember to Remove Your Tail Before the Third Date
by Genevieve Mills
The girls are soaking their scales off. It’s half past five and girls across the city are in bathtubs, or perhaps perched on the edges of tubs with their legs soaking in a potent mixture of hot water and Sally’s Scale Remover. Some let steam from the shower dampen the walls as they sit on the toilet and spread Sally’s Scale Remover Shower Foam across their glossy, blue-green scales. They have dates tonight, and it’s time to get ready. Time to remove their monster parts. The scents of lavender and ammonia fill their bathrooms as they take pastel loofahs to their legs and scrub off iridescent flakes. When they finish, their legs are tender and pink like newborn mammals.
One girl twists around to reach her tail with her pink, Sally Brand straight razor. She holds her razor in one hand and the short, dark brown hairs that grow out of her tailbone in the other. Her roommate sits outside the ajar bathroom door, reading aloud from an article about how women, like men, used to grow out their tails, how even models in magazines had tails until the porn industry decided they were no longer In. The girl presses the blade to her tail and watches hair drift to the bottom of the empty shower before interrupting her roommate. “It always ends up being about porn with you!” They laugh together as the last strands of tail hit the shower’s tiles.
Some girls are filing down their horns. Others carefully apply Hannah’s Horn Enhancer to the bases of their horns, trying to make them look bigger. Not too big, not monster big. But small dainty horns are In right now, and the girls who accidentally filed their horns down too much back in middle school when no horns were In have to fix past mistakes with putty and sculptors’ tools. Some of them wince as they press metal files against the bones jutting out from their hairlines. But they have dates to get ready for, and so they press harder. Besides, it’s just a small pain, like the burn of Sally’s Scale Remover if they leave it on too long, or the sting of the hairs ripping out when they get their tails waxed. Their eyes may water, but they don’t shut them because they don’t want their fingers to slip and leave a rough edge. It’s smooth, delicate, innocuous human horns that they’re after.
Across the city, girls are bleeding. Many of them have decided this is reason enough to not go out tonight, and so instead of getting ready for dates they put on their oldest pairs of underwear and curl up on sofas with pizzas and painkillers, the wounds between their legs bandaged. But some of them still want to go on their dates, despite the blood. They shove cotton where it’s needed, wash their hands, and put Tilda’s Lady Tissues in their purses. They’ve gotten blood out of lacy underwear before and will do it again. They ignore the aches in their wombs and make sure not to sneeze or cough too hard, lest the blood leak out. They make a few extra trips to the bathrooms, and when their dates say, “Why are you taking your purse to the bathroom?” they giggle and say, “To touch up my makeup” because it’s not polite to talk about blood at the table, and it’s certainly not polite to remind your date that you’re a monster girl who bleeds.
The girls are with their dates now. They’ve removed scales, hacked away tails, smoothed horns, and soaked up blood. Some of their dates got ready by drinking a beer in the elevator, others ran combs through their hair. They will tell the girls they look nice, these girls that are now plucked and soft and blood-less. They tell the girls who have transformed themselves with sharp edges and sour acids and hot wax that they are pretty. Some of the dates will later make a joke about how long it takes women to get ready, and the girls, with scars behind their ears from hot irons, will laugh. Across the city, the no-longer-monstrous girls hide pointed teeth behind their carefully manicured hands and laugh.
Genevieve Mills is a fiction writer who graduated from the University of Louisville with a Bachelor’s degree in French and in English. Her work has appeared in Crab Fat Magazine, Unbroken Journal, Severine, Drunk Monkeys, and other magazines.