“To Love a Crocodile” by Shimi; May 2021

This was inspired by the folklore of swan maidens and selkies, as well as my own beloved boyfriend. This is how I feel like as a saltwater crocodile therian in a relationship.

They aren’t what you’d expect on the day of your wedding. Your spouse is a confusing masterpiece of emotions not common to any human you’ve met before. They kiss you with sincere passion and loyalty, yet they will just as readily bite your lip with a sharp canine and stare into your eyes with an even sharper stare. One could swear that they would have seen the glint of a predator deep within those ancient eyes. They love deeply, but toughly, often pulling you to your feet and insisting that you carry forward as soon as their sweet comforting is over. When you hold them, they feel both cold and warm in the ways that the currents embrace each other at sea. They are sweet and lovely, but horrifying and grim. An omen of death with love and happiness attached, decorated like a gift box with a razor blade for the tag.

A peek into the steamy room of their bath will give it all away. There’s a subtle glimpse of light scales reflecting back from the white room as water pours down their body. There’s a long tail hanging from the edge of the basin, ending with a paddle. Their hands have translucent webbing and their claws are still recovering from a recent trim. Their teeth shine like pearlescent knives, both beautiful but threatening. The water and bubbles around them swirl around like seafoam in a shallow bay, smelling of salts and sunlight. Their eyes, staring down at the water with a sincere sense of longing, have become softened by their humanity but retain the primordial instincts that make them who they are. There is a monster in the bathtub, and yet they’re beautifully beastly. They’re all yours, and you love them for who they try to deny themselves to be.

The crocodile species can be hard to understand, as they are often described to have a wicked nature and a seeming lack of empathy that compares to a serial killer. They are considered aggressive and dominant, isolated but always lurking around. They live in the inky darkness of night with the moon being their sun, only ever using the morning light to sleep the day away. Yet they also come with romance and compassion, leaving roses by the bedside cut from the thorniest vines in the gardens and groomed to be safer for their lover. They will fetch food and medicine for their partner in the worst weather imaginable without blinking an eye, and they’ll put together a fire too. When the weather gets too cold and snow falls outside, they will crawl under all of the blankets in the world with you and hold you close against them before slumbering the winter away.

They have been told that they are cruel and vicious for so long, that they have learned to be comfortable in the darkest facets of the world which are riddled in suffering, death, and hardship since they are seen as darkness too. This is why they are so determined to be the best spouse that they can since you chose to see the good in them instead, and they want to protect you from those dismal conditions as much as possible, even if it means  giving some biting words about your health or habits. You chose to love them because they can be so strongly passionate and carry their own wits, and you with them with great patience. Through this, they can love themselves as much as you love them, and they can see the grace, elegance, and softness that even they can have.

When the sheets come undone and love bites gently trail your body when they could be so much meaner before they help you to the shower or bath, you can know that they love you.

When your hands are cold and they stuff them into their pockets despite hating the cold, sacrificing their own heat, you can know that they love you.

When they cook a warm meal for you and they make sure you’re happy and healthy, you can know that they love you.

They also know that you love them too with all of your soft mammalian heart, and they will return it all back with their reptilian one. There are so many ways to love you, dearest.