Whoops. After a night of not sleeping well thanks to a thunderstorm and thunderstorm-inspired nightmares, I spent most of yesterday in a haze. At 12:30 a.m., I woke up and realized I’d forgotten to post this, but decided for once in my life I would prioritize sleep over anything else. So it’s late, but it’s here.
I absolutely love ghost stories of all kinds. Somewhere on my list of blog topics to eventually tackle is one on my weird relationship with horror—specifically that I simultaneously love and crave it, while also being petrified of the dark, of weird noises at night, of mirrors.
Somehow I stumbled onto Japanese yōkai, a class of creature that falls toward the ghost end of the supernatural spectrum. When reading about yōkai, I learned I have a weird thing about long-necked people, the thing being that, for some reason, it completely terrifies me.
These long-necked spirits (calling them ‘long-necked’ defangs them a bit for me—I get more of a giraffe vibe than sheer terror) are called rokurokubi. They are one-hundred percent not okay, and looking at these old paintings of them gives me a serious case of the creeps. Somehow the word nukekubi ended up on my vocabulary list and hey, what do you know? There’s a creepier, more violent version of rokurokubi out there.
Anyway, a drabble.
(I can’t find an etymology for this one, but I did see that kubi means ’neck’ in Japanese, which says plenty.)
A Japanese yōkai [ghost/spirit] whose head is detached from their body.
Naoko knows what her husband does at night. She sees him go, his body still while his head rises up and glides toward the door as she watches from beneath lashes only just open. The look in his eyes is angry, hungry, feral in a way that she never sees during the day.
His head returns with blood on his breath. There is always something in the news, an attack, a dead pet, a mysterious death. She runs her thumb over the smooth plane of his cheek and presses her lips lightly to his; his anger is different than hers.