This short story contains elements of body horror.

I weave myself in, and, oh boy, there is no better mood I can feel.

The body was smiling like a shark to the cashier. “All of it,” the lips say.

She holds her chin up. Trying to make up for those few inches missing.

It feels good for a moment, then the high passes, and the gut whispers as it often does: no, this won’t do. This isn’t the right one. You need another.

I raise a hand and push a little and everything goes still.

Sometimes no one is there.

I walk the aisles full of frozen people. When they really aren’t there, they’re somehow louder. You can’t dismiss that stare — vacant but there, unmoving — as background noise.

I reach carefully past and in.

No, this won’t do either. Nor the other one. Nor the — yet — other one — no, none of these will do.

Time is running out for time to stand still, so I slowly return to where I was. More or less.

She jumps startled, whimpers, when she notices I moved a few feet to the left in a heartbeat. “How did you…?”, the cashier says.

The whimper comes out wrong. It’s flat. Vocal chords are struggling over decades of me pointedly ignoring them, in this or any other body. But tonight frustration has gotten to me as it almost never does and it needs an out. And also— a hunch. Maybe her?

“Have you ever considered how your body makes for an excellent host?”

It’s slightly monotone. I cough a bit. Clear my throat. She’s staring, confused. Clear the throat more. Is this right? I barely remember.

“Have you ever”, I start, then the sentence dies midway. “Hosts.” It sounded better in my head. I frown, enunciate. “Hosts.

“L—” she says and stops and looks and the crude implement of harm the body was carrying, is still carrying, “l-like with guests, and stuff?”

I look at her, smile bemused at her obvious lack of understanding. “No!” I gesticulate, though some instinct warns me I should not wave the metal around. She flinches but I’m too into it to stop. I like theatrical. “No,” I smile conspiratorially, wave with the free hand in my own direction, “inside.”

She’s clearly not getting it still.

I make a couple of instances hatch from the belly to demonstrate, and she screams.

I find my other instance later. She’s wearing a brunette, beautiful dress unkempt, stockings and feet torn by the uneven terrain of the woods, but no matter. Of the two of us, I found more to stretch in, my own self a vibration several feet from the body I’m in. The incubation has taxed it. It won’t last very long still.

We look at each other.

I caress her from afar and she smiles. I reach and her plan makes me smile. My plan now. We’re back us together as just the one me.

I wave my hand, and the driver of the car I brought — a lower but useful part of me now — moves to the passenger seat.

We could move between the dance of two leaves falling — and yet, we love to drive.