Illustration by Natsumi Chikayasu

The Blob

WE FOUND the star jelly in the street, halfway between home and the park where our cousins were waiting. My brother tried to run his bike through it, but I stuck my sneaker in the spokes, and while he was scrambling up from the pavement I knelt down in wonder. The thing was gelatinous, amorphous, and the color of milk over ice. I could practically hear its descent in my mind: a wet plop followed by a sizzle, like batter dropped in oil.

My brother called it caca de luna. If the moon shit, I said to him, it would be round and hard and pockmarked. He told me that human shit doesn’t look like humans; why should moon shit look like the moon? Clarity filled me; as transparent and touchable as the thing at our feet. Humans are not the moon, I said, with an alien patience I would only come to recognize years later: the smooth glide of understanding that carries you past the people you love and into an unknown land.

Anyway. Even as I was telling him that it was from the comet, from the star in the sky that refused to leave us, a visitor from somewhere else—Stop it! Stop!—he was touching it. It dissolved beneath his fingers, and he looked up at me with genuine regret. I like to imagine I was backlit and stoic, even though I was furious and probably crying. Between us, a kiss of damp in the road, like an overturned water ice.

At the end of the summer, he took me to the Cineplex and we saw it again. Sort of. The way it pressed forward and destroyed and consumed was unfamiliar. The way it slaughtered, completely wrong. They had taken liberties with it, my star jelly. They had not shown its grace or the breadth of its journey, its singular beauty, its ignoble death. They made it kill and conquer because they only knew how to make things kill and conquer. Stop it, I whispered in the darkness. We’re sorry, I said, to no one at all.


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Carmen Maria Machado is the author of several books, including Her Body and Other Parties, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize. In the Dream House was longlisted for the PEN/Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction. Her work has appeared in Granta, the New Yorker, NPR, Electric Literature, and elsewhere. Her work has been nominated for a Nebula Award and a Shirley Jackson Award and was a finalist for the Calvino Prize.


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