Hallo, Aro: Pressure, Side Two – K. A. Cook

Cover image for Hallo, Aro Allosexual Aromantic Flash Fiction. Cover features dark pink handwritten type on a mottled green background with a large line-drawn peacock feather, several sketch-style leaves and swirly text dividers. Green arrows sit underneath each line of text. A translucent overlay of the green/light green/white/yellow/gold alloaro flag sits underneath the text.

Hallo, Aro is a series of flash fiction stories about allosexual aromantic characters navigating friendship, sexual attraction, aromanticism and the weight of amatonormative expectation.

Contains: Reflections on the aromantic community’s historical privileging of asexual aromantics, the ways it has failed to provide equal inclusion to allosexual aromantics, and how this shapes my relationship to my own aromanticism.

Content Advisory: This piece describes several shapes of antagonism and alienation directed at and experienced by allo-aros, including references to the predator stereotype and the expectation that idealised/acceptable sex takes place in the context of (romantic) love.

Links: PDF, EPUB and MOBI editions are available for download from Patreon.

Length: 995 words / 4 PDF pages.

Note the first: This is the second in a series describing the different angles of pressure allo-aros endure from family, society, the queer/LGBTQIA+ community and, yes, the a-spec and aromantic communities.

Note the second: This piece will make better sense if you’re familiar with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (or the movie!), in particular the way the Emerald City becomes emerald in the eyes of its citizens and guests.

I look over our wall at my golden heart, dust-covered and tarnished, slumbering in a field of poppies. Does anyone else stagger under the weight of our locked-on glasses?

(Aromantic?)

Who expects to ask of themself this question?

Green’s resounding answer gifts relief, identity, connection. A word become a wind-cracking banner of delighted pride. A word pledging unity in the face of a world trying to deny me, comprehension in the face of a world trying to quiet me, comfort in the face of a world trying to erase me. Arrows promise what family, friends, community and society don’t and won’t: welcome.

Not welcome as the person I should be or become.

Welcome as the person I am.

“Aro” sounds like screamed defiance and glorious courage. I wave this new flag, singing in knowing’s long-belated joy. Here I am! Punishing ignorance can’t erase truth—our truth!—while my aro siblings stand at my back, a verdant chorus demanding our recognition.

“Aro” smells like a fresh-painted house, its blank walls ready and waiting. Ready for blue and white flags, for pink and grey flags, for flags in any colour yet a shade of aromanticism.

Even pink and crimson, colours of love and desire, bear emerald souls once admitted inside our sanctuary.

I’m no longer alone.

(Aromantic!)

Sanctuary it is. Sanctuary it must be.

Those outside wield blood-drawing words in both ignorance and malice: user, heartless, hateful. (Nobody whole or good feels sexual attraction absent love.) Alloromantics burden us with invisibility and shame, ignorant to the amatonormativity tainting their judgement. Now, though, I own haven’s key, and that knowing clothes me like armour. Steel creaks and bones ache under cruel blows, but no battle lasts forever. I now know where to find shelter afterwards, amongst my fellow aros seeking to rest their own weighty shields.

“Asexual” was first murmured in lands inaccessible to a teenager struggling to pass unharmed through the internet’s maw. Once that gaping portal became history, my questioning feet wandering over the rainbow road past somewhere and towards impossible, detours promised me only lavender. Nobody spoke my word. My companions in aureate pinks and regal purples ushered me down their home-leading turnings, but not even gold’s siren call gifted me comprehension enough to remain.

Wandering years followed wandering years, full of stranger colours and bitter leavings, before I glimpsed revelation on the horizon: an Emerald City sheltering my verdant kindred.

I ran, lonely and desperate, for its beckoning gates.

How can strangers break me inside the embrace of my own?

(Aromantic!)

Months passed before I noticed the glasses locked to my head by the city’s gatewardens.

Removing illusion’s lenses sharpens my breath: why does so much purple entwine our green? Everywhere, houses celebrating viridescence delight equally in their amethyst richness. (Did I see equal breadths of emerald permitted in the coloured fields crossed on my road through Oz?) I gawk at plum’s banners, at the sheltering streets standing barren of gilt and amber, at the shared language now stunningly alien. Don’t we all chafe at a culture that presumes everyone experiences sexual attraction? Don’t we all shudder at the omnipotence of sexual references outside viridian walls?

Don’t we? Isn’t this part of our aromanticism?

The bricks building validation’s wall cast green and purple shadows. Nobody, however, rules against gold’s inclusion. Absence reigns only in the unspoken, unquestioned sheltering of purple-hearted pain in a prasine city as though one should accompany the other.

Gold, however valued in distant lands, is here deemed unnecessary, alien, repulsive, gross. Why must I want something regarded as gross?

I look over our wall at my golden heart, dust-covered and tarnished, slumbering in a field of poppies. Does anyone else stagger under the weight of our locked-on glasses?

Does anyone else notice them?

(Aromantic.)

Signs adorn the doors to those houses into which I carry auric shards and crumbs: sex mention advisory, warning for sexual references, sexual attraction depictions. Rational, reasonable. Don’t we crave shelter from raging tempests of scarlet and rose? Don’t we ache when our safety goes denied and ignored? When we garb our knowing-wrought armour to survive—not unbruised—our erasure, how can we deny the import of comfort and inclusion for people with hearts of both jade and plum?

Violence, abuse, hatred, blood, death, sexual attraction.

(Is one of those warned-for things not like the others?)

Beware such dangers, shout my requisite signs, should you enter my house.

Announcing my gold in a crowded green room draws reminders to whisper, no matter the words hung at its threshold. Announcement, too, draws turned shoulders, the quiet of people offering up avoidance and refusal, a resolute lack of interest. Nobody rules against gold’s inclusion, but what does law matter when guides introduce newcomers first to our purple-green hallways, blue and amber an afterthought?

Indifference, too, owns the subtleties of ink-scribbled signage.

What does it mean that I want something so harmful to many of my own?

(Aromantic?)

I don’t recollect being asked to discard my golden self outside the Emerald City’s gates. Yet I must have, for months pass while both my gilt and viridian halves wither in their unnatural disconnect. Yellow fades to sun-bleached straw; green sickens to chartreuse’s livid toxicity.

Those long-ago rainbow roads gave my allosexuality, too, names of screamed defiance and glorious courage. Why shouldn’t I sing and dance to my gold, even here?

How did I forget pride’s hard-won lessons?

We hang jade-and-amber banners and raise defiant voices, bestirring a fanged maliciousness from deep down purple-green hallways. “Demanding,” say some when we remind our own of our aureate flag’s equal viridescence. “Aggressive,” say others when we protest conversations only acknowledging plum as emerald’s accompaniment. “Exclusionary,” say more when we craft gold-dusted houses (hoping for our once-promised sanctuary) unintended for purple’s protection.

While our whispers earn silence, our shouts provoke cruelty.

“Predatory,” people howl outside our walls.

“Predatory,” people howl inside them.

Predatory.

My knowing-wrought armour decays and crumbles under blows from both strangers and kin. I am a dangerous monster, my lifeblood’s scarlet smearing the floor, my faith in verdant pride now nothing but brittle memory.

What does “allo-aro” sound like?

(Aromantic…?)

K. A. Cook is an abrosexual, aromantic, genderless, autistic, queer adult who experiences chronic pain and mental illness. Ze writes creative non-fiction, personal essays and novels about the above on the philosophy that if the universe is going to make life interesting, ze may as well make interesting art. Ze can be found online at Queer Without Gender and @aroworlds.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.