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The Fuzz

Flash Fiction, Destiny Herbert

It’s been days. She doesn't know how many. The breadth of her knowledge for the past decade has consisted of the usefulness of four walls and the sanctity of corners; she had no more room left for the counting of days. She could share troves of trivia on damp and dark places, though—how they promote all the wrong growth and stifle any other attempts at it. Her favorite piece of trivia was that mushrooms and mold were not the same thing, but were actually different forms of fungi, and were more like siblings or close friends rather than a singular entity that rotated its wardrobe. The tiny little hairs she had started to see in the mirror, however, were a new addition to her limited collection of experiences, and would soon expand her awareness in a manner akin to enlightenment.

She found them on her mouth first, of all places, dotting its corners. The hairs were aware of, just as she, of warm, wet crevices and the safety they provided. When she spoke, she noticed that phlegm obstructed her speech’s pathways now instead of dryness. Once the little hairs became thicker and began to spot the perimeter of her mouth in patches, then traveled down her neck in trails, she knew and had no questions. She became more certain that they were not just hair the more that they—or it, rather—coalesced and spread, like syrupy residue on clean glass. She appreciated how its soft green complimented her skin and how she looked like the cover of a children’s book, one about a giddy green cow who had loved grass so much that she adopted its color into her spots. Whether the tickle in her belly was because of this notion or because of the patches creeping their way down her throat and into her gut, she did not care. Its strange, sweet scent was pleasing to her, as well as the sour taste that quickly began to permeate her tongue. 

She was thrilled by the promise of a new life—of several—that would allow her to float between faux, conjured-up memories and between existences on a cloud of infestation-induced illusion. Finally, her multiplicities would have a form, embodied by species that all had something to relate to in one another. She would finally know camaraderie, and be armored with an endurance that, in all honesty, paled in comparison to her own, that of which she had smithed into a shell perfectly suited to home her in her time of devolution. Even within her four walls, within her ecosystem that held and sustained only her, she had persisted, and persisted, and persisted, and persisted.

The relief that came with surrendering that responsibility to something else filled her head with a pleasant fog. Curled up in the crater in her mattress, knees to her chest, she let this relief lull her eyes shut and let the toadstools bloom from her ears. She hoped that whoever found her would be endeared by her elvenness, would maybe think to place her calcified body among bluebells and garden gnomes. She hoped that children would find refuge in the garden that she would guard, and that after them being told time and time again of the importance of “being your own friend,” by being with her, would at last know how to.


Destiny Herbert is a writer of short fiction and poetry. Her work exists within the sphere of the nostalgic and the macabre and the intersection of queerness and black womanhood. She is pursuing her Master of Arts in creative writing. She hopes to either gain footing in the publishing industry or establish a solid reputation as a professional editor upon graduation. She appreciates a good horror novel, JRPGs, sweets, and nature walks with her puppy, Nova.


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