Size / / /

I am the prologue, a symptom. See:
aliens turn sympathetic when moonstruck;
the villain is redeemed via softened heart
or a flashback to before loss broke it;
grouches get coaxed into caring then dating;
brutal monsters are people too, if they love
properly, since friendship is just a stopgap;
the frigid bitch, proven flawed, is thawed;
and of course even robots inevitably learn
what is this thing as they are humanised.

I thought my prologue was the confused teen,
the years wasted waiting to catch up, pretending,
wondering if she could ever become human,
her heart a stone unfeeling uncaring unflinching
despite her love for family, friends and life,
just because she could not feel attraction.
Thinking it past, now a numbered chapter,
confident and comfortable, I introduced myself.

No, not aromatic. No, just single, not single-cell.

They asked me what planet was I from
because all strangenesses are the same:
The one where they have neither women nor men
but aliens who are both and neither?
Because romance's opposite is sociopathy:
When will the police catch you?
Because I guess they never saw that interview:
But you don't have a brilliant scientific mind?

Because I was an inner conflict to resolve they
hit me with well-meaning, well-aimed insults,
got under my skin with tropes and diagnoses,
opened me up to see what scenes I was missing,
what had gone wrong in mother's womb.
I wasn't human, I wasn't human yet,
but they could fix me, they'd conclude
the prologue I didn't know I still was.

Even robots learn to be human.
That's the story they like best.

So they put metal in my head,
filling all the holes they said
they saw with wires clipped
to neurons receiving their scripts
and programs from transmitting
terminals permitting
manual override lest
malfunction means I regress
to that repressed, truncated state
and choose to leave my soul mate.

I was the prologue, a plight. See:
the circuitry installed to allow humanity;
requited love the reward for surviving my story;
and their happily-ever-after overwriting me.




Penny Stirling edits and embroiders in Western Australia. Their speculative fiction and poetry can be found in Lackington's, Interfictions, Heiresses of Russ, and other venues. For more of Penny's aromantic nonfiction visit their website or follow them on Twitter.
Current Issue
24 Feb 2020

tight braids coiled into isles and continents against our scalps
By: Mayra Paris
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents Mayra Paris's “New York, 2009.”
This Mind and Body Cyborg as a queer figure raises its head in Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone’s 2019 epistolary novel This Is How You Lose the Time War, as two Cyborg bodies shed their previous subjectivities in order to find a queer understanding of one another.
Carl just said ‘if the skull wants to break out, it will have to come to me for the key’, which makes me think that Carl doesn’t really understand how breaking out of a place works.
Wednesday: The Heart of the Circle by Keren Landsman 
Friday: Into Bones Like Oil by Kaaron Warren 
Issue 17 Feb 2020
By: Priya Sridhar
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: E. F. Schraeder
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 10 Feb 2020
By: Shannon Sanders
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
Issue 3 Feb 2020
By: Ada Hoffmann
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: S.R. Tombran
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 27 Jan 2020
By: Weston Richey
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 20 Jan 2020
By: Justin C. Key
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Jessica P. Wick
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 13 Jan 2020
By: Julianna Baggott
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Terese Mason Pierre
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Terese Mason Pierre
Issue 6 Jan 2020
By: Mitchell Shanklin
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Nikoline Kaiser
Podcast read by: Nikoline Kaiser
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 23 Dec 2019
By: Maya Chhabra
Podcast read by: Maya Chhabra
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 16 Dec 2019
By: Osahon Ize-Iyamu
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Liu Chengyu
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 9 Dec 2019
By: SL Harris
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Jessy Randall
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
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