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  • Writer's pictureH.R. Owen

Episode Ninety Nine

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Monstrous Agonies E99S03 Transcript

[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]

H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode Ninety Nine.

[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through Irish trad music, a voice saying “-strike action-”, a voice saying “-tenants who can’t afford it-”, a voice saying “-jobs are to be cut-” and the sound of someone screaming before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]

The Presenter

-mysterious scrimshaw sigils revealed in a routine X-ray.

Up next tonight, it’s time for our advice segment.

[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]

The Presenter

The Nightfolk Network – broadcasting all the time, for all time.

[End of background music]

The Presenter

First this evening, a listener struggling with commitment.

The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)

I have this partner who I’ve been seeing for a-a, a bit now, and, well, they’re wonderful! [laughs] We’ve got loads in common and spending time with them is always just so easy.

They’re a keen birder – apparently it’s very important you say “birder” not “twitcher”. [laughs] Who knew. I didn’t really see the appeal at first. Not much of a date, is it, standing together, not saying anything. Not even looking at one another.

But actually, I’ve come to love it! [laughs softly] I know the names of the birds in my garden for the first time in my life. I’ve even started learning a few bird calls calls.

And it’s nice, spending time together like that. Knowing they just enjoy being in the same place as me. We don’t have to talk, we can just… be there. Together. [laughs]

The problem is, they are a regenerative genus and I met them towards the end of this lifespan. We have a few months left and then... Well. They’ll... pass on, and come back as a hatchling.

I’m so not interested in moving from partner to parent![laughs] So we talked it through and when it happens we’ll simply part ways. And they, uh. Well, they won’t remember me, so it’s not like we can pick up the pieces down the line. Once it’s over, it’s, uh... Over. Everything we have together just, um... Yeah, just. Gone up in flames. [laughs weakly]

I don’t want to give up on the time I have left with them. But it’s... hard to feel invested in a relationship when it has an expiration date. Should I stick with it? Or just, uh… quit while I’m ahead?

The Presenter (as themselves)

I wish I had a simple answer for you, listener. Unfortunately, this is a very personal and complex situation. As such, the only person qualified to decide what you should do is… you.

You need to reflect seriously on how the loss of your lover is likely to effect you and whether that effect will be tempered or exacerbated by spending more time together now.

You also need to consider how this “expiry date” will effect your ability to show up for your partner.

Some people do find it difficult to find joy in short-term relationships. They relish taking their time to really get to know their lover, forging a deep connection over an extended period of time.

They feel comforted and supported by the thought of their relationship stretching out indefinitely, occupying future space as well as present.

Meanwhile, others find real comfort and delight in knowing someone for a short time and then parting ways. And while short-lived, their connections are no less authentic for their brevity.

They throw themselves into the endeavour with sincerity, and enjoy their time together to the full. They’re able to enjoy what their partner brings to them in the now, without asking for promises for the future.

Contrary to the opinion of various pearl-clutching moralisers, neither one of these approaches is inherently better or worse than the other. As such, there is no reason to force yourself into one model of behaviour if it is not right for you.

Your partner deserves to be with someone who can connect with them authentically, and be truly, sincerely present in the relationship. If you can do that in the short-term then by all means, embrace what time you have together and make the most of it.

But if you can’t be that person – if you need the security of a shared future to be able to fully commit – I’m afraid it would be unkind to both of you to continue.

[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]

The Presenter

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[End background music]

The Presenter

Tonight’s second letter is from a listener feeling uncertain about some romantic logistics.

The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)

I, uh... Well. I think I'm in love! [laughs] I mean, I think so. I hope so. It's not something I'm exactly, uh, familiar with. I've always kept to myself. It's, um. Better for everyone that way.

Not that I'm lonely, gods no! [laughs] I've got a great life! I tend my garden and feed my sheep, and I've got a great view of the sunset up here in my cabin. I can see all the way down to the valley below on a clear evening.

I've never needed anyone else before. I've always just had me and that's been fine! It- It used to be fine. Now though… [sighs]

I try and picture my future, and I- I don’t like it. I don't want to imagine what it’ll be like. Not if I- If I can’t imagine her being with me. That's love, right? That's what all my books say.

She came up my mountain one day while I was sitting outside, reading. She's a botanist, and she'd heard of my “exquisite garden” – her words, not mine! [laughs]

It had been a while since I'd had anyone to talk to, but she made it easy. She had so many questions about the garden, about the rare flowers I have and how I get them to grow so large.

We could sit and talk for hours about plants, fertilisers, and how to perfectly place the orchids so they grow well. Anything. And we have. These last few months, she's come up the mountain twice a week.

We sit for hours on my porch, watching the valley below, and talking. And talking. And talking, and talking! [laughs] I'll never forget how she looks when the sun’s setting, the golden light caught in her eyes, her hand on mine...

All of this to say that, yes, I think I'm in love. [laughs nervously] B-but I’m- We're not- Well, she's more or less sapio-sized, and I'm... bigger. I'm- [sighs]

Alright. I'm a giant. Which is a problem. Right? It's definitely a problem. We can't exactly go to her favourite restaurant for a date if I can't even walk down the high street without knocking over telephone poles.

I-I couldn't ask her to stay up here with me, away from everyone else. She needs other people. It wouldn’t be fair. But I don't want to lose her so soon after finding her.

I thought I'd be alone forever, and I was fine with that. I was. I-I was. But now I know I could be alone with someone. And I… don't know what to do.

The Presenter (as themselves)

I realise you are asking for practical, romantic advice, listener. But first, I feel I must address some of the assumptions underlying your letter. I don’t know who taught you your size was a problem, but I would very much like to give them a piece of my mind.

If you can’t walk down the high street without knocking over a few telephone poles, it’s because the street is badly designed – not because there is anything wrong with you or your body.

You deserve to take up space in the world and to have a community around you who make an effort to accommodate you. By all means, enjoy the peace and quiet of home, but please, do not isolate yourself for fear that your physical presence is inconvenient to others.

Regarding the substance of your letter, frankly I think you may be making a mountain out of a molehill. This woman comes to visit you twice a week. She clearly finds the reward of your company well-worth the effort of the trip.

I don’t see any reason at all she should have to choose between a life with you, and a life with her friends and family.

You say that you have been happy alone, and I won’t argue with your experiences. I only wonder if you might not have been a little too comfortable with your own isolation, to the point of cutting yourself off from other, new experiences.

It is a frightening thing, to ask for what you need. If you have spend a lifetime trying not to be a nuisance, making yourself as small and unobtrusive as possible, it can feel like an act of staggering audacity to suddenly demand the world make space for you.

And how much more audacious when those demands are not, in fact, needs, but desires. When the world has told you, constantly, day in and day out, that it is not for you – that you are too big, too strange, too different – it takes great strength and courage to say, “No. No, I deserve to be here, and what’s more, I deserve to enjoy it.”

But you do deserve to enjoy it, listener. You deserve to take up space and be safe and supported and connected to your community. You deserve a hand to hold while you’re watching the sunset, and to laugh together and share your life together, in whatever way makes sense to you.

Talk to your friend about your burgeoning feelings. If it gives you courage, I can say it sounds very much like they may be quite thoroughly reciprocated. But above all, please, remember: the world is better for having you in it, just as you are. You do nobody any favours by hiding yourself away.

That’s all for our advice segment. Next up, we’ve got some tips and tricks for reducing energy costs in the home. Recharging your cursed objects and enchanted items doesn’t have to cost the earth…

[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through rock and roll music, a voice saying “-Corfu-”, a voice saying “-it’s gone!-”and someone singing along with a guitar solo before fading out.

Title music: slow, bluesy jazz. It plays throughout the closing credits.]

H.R. Owen

Episode Ninety Nine of Monstrous Agonies was written and performed by H.R. Owen.

Tonight's first letter was submitted by Ivy, the second letter was from Adrianna, and this week's advert was based on similar suggestions by Ella and itsthekiks. Thanks, friends.

Hello and welcome to our latest supporter on Patreon, Anastasia.Join them at, or make a one-off donation at You can also help us grow our audience by sharing with your friends and familiars, and following us on Tumblr, @MonstrousAgonies, and on Twitter, @Monstrous_Pod.

This podcast is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. The theme tune is Dakota by Unheard Music Concepts.

Thanks for listening, and remember – the real monsters are the friends we made on the way.

[Fade to silence]


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