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  • Writer's pictureH.R Owen

Episode Thirty

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Monstrous Agonies E30S01 Transcript

[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]

H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode Thirty.

[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through a voice saying, “-where the name comes from-”, pop music, a voice saying, “-ey?!”, a voice saying “-yes-” and static before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]

The Presenter

-undisguised glee and poorly disguised fangs.

Next on the Nightfolk Network, I answer listener's questions, after a short word from our sponsor.

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

The Presenter

In association with Westwood's Broomstick Hire. We offer single broomsticks, tandem broomsticks, family hatchback broomsticks, high-altitude broomsticks for mountain crossings, and spacious luxury broomsticks so you can travel in style. Wherever you're going, get there with Westwood's.

[End background music]

The Presenter

Starting us off tonight, a listener wonders whether or not to share some sensitive information.

The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)

I'll keep this brief, I don't want to waste your time or mine. You've addressed long-lived genuses before – my concern is the opposite. I expect to live to about 28, 30 if I'm lucky.

It didn't used to be a problem. My people don't have much of a history of living outside our own communities, for all sorts of reasons. Our sense of time, our entire perspective, it just doesn't gel with other cultures very well.

But the world is changing. We have to change with it. I'm friends with more people with average length lives than I think my great grandparents ever even met.

And this is it, because I... [sigh] haven't told my friends about my genus's life span. It's easier that way. I mean, I met most of these people when I was 15 and they all took me for being in my early thirties. You can imagine how awkward people can get when they think you're “actually” a teenager. So, I never corrected them. At this point I can only assume they all think I'm aging [laughing] horribly and are too polite to mention it.

Anyway, I'm 25 now. And for my friends, I know they'll feel that I don't have very long left. I don't, um... [sigh] Well, I don't know how I feel about it, to be honest. Spending time with them has affected my own sense of time, I think. The world moves so much more slowly away from my community. Three to five years doesn't feel like such a long time any more.

Do I have a responsibility to tell them? It feels... private. And complex. I don't know how ready I am to share that complexity, and deal with their feelings on top of my own.

The Presenter (as themselves)

You don't have to share anything you're not comfortable with, listener. This is private information – the most private, in some ways. How you navigate your own death is not something about which you should feel beholden to societal expectations and other people's demands.

I do encourage you to spend some time exploring your feelings around your death. You mention how your perspective has changed somewhat during your relatively long association with people with average life spans. I think it would help you to investigate that changed perspective more deeply.

You might do this with a mental health professional, preferably one who specialises in work of this nature. Or you might prefer to work more informally, exploring the issue yourself through art, literature or with friends or family who are already aware of the situation. There is no one-size-fits-all approach here. Find a path that suits you.

Once you are clearer on your own feelings about your death, I think you will find the prospect of communicating those feelings to your friends less intimidating. You might still choose not to share with them, but at least you can know you're making that decision out of a positive desire for privacy on your part, and not out of fear or discomfort.

I will say this – telling your friends beforehand gives them the chance to process and come to terms with the prospect. It will give them time to get used to the idea, as much as that's possible. It will also make them more able to support you as you move into these final stages of your life.

But I understand that sharing this information has the potential to cause a great deal of emotional strain. No two people will react to this news in the same way. If you do decide to tell them, please be prepared for that, and make sure you have your own independent support networks to lean on as you need it.

Whatever your decision, I urge you to take the time to explore what is really best for you. There is no wrong answer here, and you deserve to make your choice freely, of your own volition, and without obligation to anyone else.

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

The Presenter

The Nightfolk Network – the UK's only dedicated radio station for the creature community.

[End background music]

The Presenter

Our second letter tonight is from a listener finding it hard to connect with their loved ones.

The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)

My mum and dad adopted me when I was just a baby. It wasn't quite the usual adoption process though.

Mum and dad went on holiday to America and they went off into the mountains to go camping, up in the forests, miles from civilisation. They settled down to go to sleep, but in the middle of the night there was this huge thunderstorm and-

Well, my dad says there was a thunderstorm. Mum says he's exaggerating, that it was just a bit of rain. But I prefer his version.

So there was this great, booming storm, cracks of lightning and rolls of thunder, and my mum and dad sitting huddled together in their tent in the dark. And then, all of a sudden-!

Well, see, this bit doesn't work without the storm. Because there was this flash of lightning and it lit up the side of the tent and just for a moment, just for a second, they saw this huge, dark silhouette against the canvas!

Mum says that bit didn't happen. But the thing they agree on is that not long after, they heard this noise from outside. They thought it was an animal at first, some kind of [American accent] American critter [laughing] or something. What noise do possums make?

Anyway, it wasn't a possum. It was me! In a basket woven out of cedar bark and packed all round with furs. There was a note in there as well, and nobody knows what language it's in! It doesn't match with any of the Native languages in the area and it doesn't look like any alphabet I've ever seen. And it's got these splotches on it, like drops of rain, but Mum and Dad swear the inside of the basket was bone dry.

There was this big legal to-do, nobody was quite sure what to do with me. But then Mum and Dad said they wanted to adopt me. At that bit, Dad always says, “When the universe gives you something beautiful, you don't turn it down.” Daft old git. [laughs]

I don't mind being adopted in and of itself. But as I get older, things have got more... complicated. It's become clear, I'm a member of the community. They've always suspected. By the time I was 12, I was about a foot taller than most of my teachers. And talk about hair growing in strange places. They used to call me Cousin It, until I decked Simon Philips for it Year Eight. They stuck to talking about me behind my back after that.

I'm doing my A Levels now and it's much better than it was. I think people have either grown out of it or just got used to me. And, anyway, I don't even care what they think, because I'm my own person and that's fine. I'm different and that's good... right?

It's just that when I talk my parents about, you know. Creature stuff. It's so obvious they never had to go through any of this. They think they get it because they're active in the community and they've got friends who are people of the night, but firstly, none of their friends are my genus – whatever genus that is – and secondly,... Well. None of their friends are my mum and dad.

I'm just wondering if they're ever going to get it, you know? They're so loving and supportive and I know they mean well, always. But it's not the same as someone who really understands what you're going through. Am I ever going to be able to share this side of myself with them?

The Presenter (as themselves)

It's always a pleasure to hear from our younger listeners – although I can't help but worry the programme is on rather late, for a school night. Do make sure you're getting enough rest, my dear.

I think part of the problem here is that you're asking two separate questions as if they were one and the same. On the one hand, will your parents ever be able to fully understand your experience? And on the other, will you ever be able to share your experience with them?

The fact is that, no, your parents will never be in the world the way that you are. They will never grow up as a cross-genus adoptee. They'll never be the only member of their genus in their family. They'll never feel what your body feels, or see as your eyes see.

That said, there are endless other points of connection you can make with the people around you. Regardless of their genus, your parents might share any number of other experiences with you, from growing up feeling different or being teased, to all the other things that draw people to one another – a sense of humour, common interests, a similar outlook on life.

You said it beautifully – you're different, and that's good. Hold onto that. Try to honour those parts of yourself that are truly unique. I know you're worried that you can't share those parts of yourself with your parents, but in fact, sharing is a wonderful way to overcome your differences by celebrating them.

Your parents might never really “get” what you go through as a young member of an isolated genus in the creature community. But they don't have to get it to be able to support you and celebrate you.

Talk to them. Tell them how you feel. Give them the chance to uphold you as their child – different, and brilliant, and beautiful, and loved.

That's all for our advice segment. Next – hedgewitch: a derogatory term, or a label of liberation? We talk to practitioners about classism and gender inequality, and how they're reclaiming...

[The Presenter's voice fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through a voice saying “-OK-”, classical music, a voice saying “-can take it in two ways-”, more classical music and static before fading out.

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

H.R. Owen

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

This episode's first letter was based on a submission by B. Thanks, friend!

Submit your own letters and suggestions at our website at, by email us at, or find us on Tumblr at Monstrous Agonies.

Big thanks and a warm welcome to our latest patron, Catriona. You can pledge from £1 a month at

You can also support the show by rating and reviewing it on iTunes and sharing the programme with your friends and familiars.

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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