Through this short story and this illustration (respectively), adrienne maree brown and Melanie West give us less a vision of the future than a description of the inherent futurities of queerness. Sometimes futurism is not to be found in time but, rather, in relationality.
Short fiction by adrienne maree brown. / Artwork by Melanie West.
Article published in The Funambulist 24 (July-August 2019) Futurisms. Click here to access the rest of the issue.
dean let their leg hang over the arm of the recliner, that leg clad in a shiny black rubber thigh-high heeled boot. they flipped their pink locs over the back of the chair, hearing the soft pressing sounds of hair texture against the yellow velvet.
the recliner was retro, still relying on gravity and resting on the floor. this heaviness helped dean feel rested when everything else in the house was standard hover gear. eventually they’d get up and climb into their bed, which hovered inches over the floor at night and then drifted to to the ceiling during the day. the room was deep yellow, the walls covered in frames with photographs, paintings, dried flowers and herbs, mirrors.
dean was exhausted, the night had been a long one, their client a slow fuck, needing them to crawl around on their knees forever and then spank him even longer than that, telling him to beg for their forgiveness for slavery, jim crow, mike brown, sandra bland, muhlaysia booker, capitalism, patriarchy. they didn’t forgive this client — part of the work was showing white men that some things are unforgivable. and now their arms were tired, knees sore, they didn’t want company.
dean was a particular taste. these days, most sex workers were paid based on how alien they could appear, body modifications in direct relationship to the rate for a night of pleasure. chameleon skin, forked tails, invisible genitalia; desire was trend on trend on trend. dean’s speciality was fairly natural — they had all the genitalia at birth, a body that had been questioned decades before, but was celebrated, especially after the first encounters with the maksha, after learning that every other sentient species in the known galaxies was multigender or gender fluid. earth humanoid forms were viewed as slow on the evolutionary curve, and suddenly dean could pay their rent just letting a client look at them, touch them, watch them pleasure themselves to double orgasm.
dean considered sometimes leaving, going on a journey
to see places where they’d never be exotic, at least not for something as basic as their body.
ad slipped into the room so quietly that dean didn’t hear him at first. he was next to them with a mug that was steaming full of hot chocolate made with cow’s milk, spiked with something dark. ad’s wide brown eyes looked down at dean with gentleness as he set the flowered mug to hover by their chair.
ad slid his hands around dean’s thigh, seeking the seam that hid the boot zipper, sliding it down and away from their leg, unveiling black brown skin, tender from the hours trapped in rubber.
somehow dean always smelled good. they’d been raised by a self-proclaimed witch who was unafraid of the natural world, who taught them the names of flowers and herbs, who taught them how to pull the scent and medicine out of the earth, and how to return to the earth what was not used.