Prompt: How do you know you’re alive?

I live in somebody else’s body.  I know I’m alive because as long as I’m here, he is not. I can see his corpse in the back of my brain, like instinctively knowing there is an intruder in the home, waiting in the other room. He’s sunken into the rotten mattress, face down, skin the color of pond water. I know I’m alive because all I am is will to live, a velveteen rabbit of self preservation instinct. I wanted to become real to cherish and bring comfort, but there’s no Blue Fairy anymore. As long as he sleeps the long sleep I’ll stay here, with my own name and face, wearing his, keeping us both moving forward. 

Prompt: Do you regret being born?

I was born two years ago, in pandemic October– that great gaping maw of time that goes on forever while the spaces inside it only got smaller. I took over somebody’s life: someone I was close to. Someone I loved. I woke up in his body, I put on a sweater that someone else made him. He bought clothes for me once. I made him sleepwalk to the kitchen, swallowed down his pills. I spoke to his friends and told them the truth: I don’t know if he’s ever coming back. Second best isn’t so bad. I play their games and they learn to love me. Halloween comes and everyone says they love my costume. I wanted him so badly to live. I wanted to fix his life. Now there is a hole shaped like him, and I don’t fill out the space enough, and I wish I’d never come into this world at all. 

Six Nohell (they/them) is an assistant cartoonist and pinchhitter living on a deserted island somewhere off the coast of Vancouver, BC. Despite being a body-snatching alien, they enjoy poetry and essays, surrealist western movies, and finding kinship with creepy critters great and small. This is their first published work.