By Dannye Chase
"I went home," Pearl said. She knew she had a sharp mournful cry, and struggled to keep it out of her voice. "Your old home."
"Enfield," Jessica said. "Oh, my dear, I haven't lived there in twenty years."
My story of cryptids emerging focuses on the lifelong romance between a human woman, Jessica, and a swamp creature named Pearl, who is based on the legend of the “Enfield Monster.” In the story, Pearl’s memory has started to weaken with age.
I based Pearl’s experience on a very good friend whom I lost to dementia. His name was David. We performed music together, in a Dixieland jazz band and as music therapy in hospitals and cancer treatment centers. David was like a grandfather to me, and the most amazing musician I ever met. He could play an exhaustive list of instruments, with music, without music, instantly transposing. I just sang, and played the straight woman to David’s antics. He routinely told people that I had anywhere from 12 to 300 children (I have three), and he liked to tell long stories to strangers in elevators and then stand in the doorway to finish them while the door alarm shrieked.
Then he was gone – and yet he wasn’t. Loving someone with dementia is a turbulent mix of Thank God he’s still here, because you can visit and touch, and Thank God he’s not still here, because they don’t know to mourn what they’ve lost. There was a piano in the memory ward, and David didn’t know what to do with it.
So I sang to him. I sang all of our old songs in the middle of the care center living room, and sometimes, there he was. There was David, hearing our music and looking at me with sudden recognition. But other times he was not there at all, just a man who couldn’t manage to open his eyes, but who still at least remembered how to chew his lunch. I sang anyway, because I needed to.
David passed very peacefully one afternoon, and I was surprised to find that even without his physical presence in my life, he is still not gone. Part of him is in me, and it has lasted far longer than I thought it could, even past the cancer that took away my own ability to sing our music. But The Enfield Monster is not a sad story. It is a love story. All love stories end— and yet, they don’t.
'The Enfield Monster' appears in Dark Cheer: Cryptids Emerging, Volume Blue. Dannye Chase is a writer of queer romance, fantasy, and horror, all of which often contain monsters. Dannye and her family just moved to the US Pacific Northwest, where they are excitedly awaiting their first Bigfoot encounter. Dannye is much easier to find: check out DannyeChase.com, and @DannyeChase on Twitter & Facebook.