No. 40 El Alacrán (The Scorpion)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that eligible men do not simply fall out of the sky and land on the ground beside you with an adorable expression of wide-eyed bewilderment.

“Ema,” my friends used to say, “you’ve had more than 40 kodomotachi, and no man. You won’t find one minding your own business. Put yourself out there. They won’t come to you.”

But mine did.

A shriek directed my attention to a cable car overhead where a small boy was waging a losing battle to clamber out of the car.

“My Pikachu!”

That’s when I first saw Him, somersaulting toward me, larger with each second. His cheeks were the reddest I had ever seen, his mouth fixed in a happy O that never released an exclamation.

After he had stopped bouncing, one, two, three times, I noticed a snaking, silver chain that encompassed his ankle. His fall had not been accidental, but a poorly timed flight to freedom. I could have left him there—vulnerable, certain to be re-captured. But I didn’t.

I don’t have to tell you that I was lonely. Ninety-five percent of all living species reproduce sexually. Parthenogenesis is not for everyone. Sometimes it’s not even a choice. And Mount Faber is a particularly unfortunate place to be alone, with its sweltering days, muggy nights, and panoramic views of Singapore. You can watch ships queue in the Singapore Strait, one of the most important and busiest ports in the world. And sometimes you have to watch tourists linger at the lookout points that fringe the top of the mountain, their hands clinging together in an awkward single appendage.

He was clearly thrilled to have escaped the possession of his captor; his expression remained one of mute joy.

Interspecies relationships are difficult to sustain, any relationship expert will tell you. But beneath his soft fur, stained a rich shade of goldenrod shot through with sepia across his back, and my own exoskeleton, I believe we were the same. The bougainvillea never smelled so fine, the Alstonia trees never so golden as they waved their hefty boughs.

I watched the cable cars overhead with gratitude and trepidation; they had given me a worthy mate, unexpectedly and without payment. But who knew when they might follow this gift with a demand?

For weeks I carried him everywhere, gently, reluctant to puncture his beautiful coat. He was flawlessly silent, long petal ears aquiver with interest, while I shared my life with him—hopes, dreams, fears. The electricity he harbored in his cheeks crackled like the spark between us, the peal that had ensnared my affections. There was nothing we didn’t do together, nowhere we didn’t go. He took me to Faber point, where the local history is etched into the walls, a big sticky mélange of truth, fiction, and art. No bus that trundled up the winding road, from Henderosa stop to mountain peak, carried a cuter couple that summer. Not the 131 or the 145, and certainly not the 176 or 273. We were happy.

Then all at once the season turned. The tourists went home and the mountain was suffused with gloom. There was no one to indulge in Sky Dining aboard a cable car, or marvel at the Marina Deck restaurant’s resemblance to a pirate ship. Just as suddenly he was distant. The eyes that were once wide with wonder and joy were now perpetually dismayed. I wearied of endless accusatory silences. So I turned to my one resource—the feature that was guaranteed to attract and dispose of any potential mate: tail.

The metasoma serves many purposes, but only one of these is truly great. The metasoma contains the telson which encompasses the vesicle. The vesicle is armed with a pair of venom glands, none of which would be of any use if it weren’t for the hypodermic aculeus. I have all of this hardware, and though I find use for it only rarely, it assuages all rejection, fear, and regret. So I neutralized him with a single motion, his mouth forever molded in an O of horror. There’s tail and then there’s tail, and perhaps he had confused the two but he never would again. And from that moment forward I was ever sensible of the foolishness of collecting stray men who rained down from the sky.


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