I release my bike from the darkness of the shed and climb onto the cool seat, soaking in the new spring sun for a moment before I start pedaling. My skin is electric with joy as I maneuver around the last melting mounds of dirty snow and find my pace. Few things invigorate me like the first ride of the year.
Today will be good. All my hurts are still here, and I will tend to them as needed, but I am alive and I am happy. I’m going to glow for every single customer at the Co-op. I’m going to share what I’m feeling, somehow, as I scan and bag granola and veggie burgers and applesauce. And when I’m done, I’m going to ride home slow. I’m going to take the long way and breathe in blue sky. I’m going to call Bess and Stevie and Kyle and they’re going to come over. We’re going to drink cheap wine and watch giant monster movies on my laptop out on the porch.
Winter got rough, as it does. We fell out of the kaiju night habit, but tonight’s the night to get back into it, and it’s going to be all Mothra, all night. There will be arguments about this. Wine will spill as everyone talks at once. “Gamera is for the kids!” Stevie will shout over and over like a mantra. Bess will flash her sloppy calf tattoo of King Caesar drinking a smoothie, acknowledging that he kinda looks like the Cheetos cat for some reason. Kyle will get all deep cuts ranting about Pulgasaari and the evils of capitalism. It will be great, but none of it will change the fact that Mothra is still the best kaiju forever and ever.
I coast into the Co-op parking lot and don’t even have to use my brakes. I just roll right to the bike rack and hop off as my front tire slides between the bars.
Taking off my backpack to pull out my lock and chain, I notice a man standing behind me. He’s a little older, early thirties maybe. “Hey,” he says, in that way that guys do when they have much more to say than “Hey.”
I kneel down to lock up my bike. The thing is, all the other kaiju were bad. Not Mothra. In the original movie, she caused some destruction, but only because her friends had been kidnapped. There was no maliciousness, no pointless, wanton destruction like Godzilla or any of the others delivered.
I stand and the man is still there, closer now. “Oh, I thought you were a girl.”
I move past him. When Mothra first fought Godzilla, she lost. It was brutal. But her children, the larvae of Mothras-to-be, took him down. They spit their cocoon webs all over him and stopped him from destroying Tokyo.
The man follows me. “Why are you dressed like a girl?”
In the 90s Mothra movies, she destroys Ghidorah, the three-headed monster. The battles are arduous. After the stress, she regenerates. She keeps changing the colors and patterns of her wings. I can’t decide which version is the prettiest. I’ve been watching Mothra movies all my life, but it wasn’t until I saw the more recent ones that I realized that, despite her name, Mothra is not actually a moth.
She’s a butterfly.
“You’re a tranny, aren’t you?”
Mothra is the best kaiju. She will always be the best kaiju. I refuse to concede that, no matter what anyone says.
“Fuck you, tranny!”
Mothra is beautiful.
“You’re a man!”
Mothra is strong.
“You’ll always be a man!”
Mothra is hope.
© Emma Alice Johnson
[This piece was selected by Sara Crowley. Read Emma’s interview]