But Moooooom…

“But moooom, why do I have to go?” she said to the phone, “I don’t like these events, never did. In fact, I think nobody likes them, people just go because they feel they should. It’s just tradition.”

She put the phone in the other hand, started looking for something in her purse.

“Besides, I don’t really know anybody, so I won’t have a good time. Mom, I know it’s not about having a good time, but shouldn’t we at least try to have a good time whenever we can? I mean, life is short, isn’t it.”

Then she started giggling.

“I know, I know. Whatever. But anyway, I have a job interview the day after. I need to be in high spirits and this will just bring me down.”

She found what she was looking for in her purse. It was gum. She stuffed a handful into her mouth. She continued with her mouth full.

“Besides, I’m still alive. It’s not my funeral. Why should I go?”

Anything for Love

It was late, it was Paris, and they had a wonderful day behind them. She looked into his dark eyes.

“I never knew I could feel this way,” she said, “I love you so much.”

He looked back into her eyes, deep, deep, deep. “I love you too,” he said, and she knew he was sincere.

“I would do anything for you,” she said.

“Anything?”

Fear flashed in her eyes, but then courage overpowered it. She knew everything had to be done for love. “Anything,” she whispered, closing, her eyes.

He got closer to her. Squeezed her hand.

“Come on, let’s go then,” he shouted and they ran through the streets like crazy, laughing.

They ended up in a cafe where he revealed his wish and she complied. She ate thirty crepes. Then he took her to the Eiffel Tower and she climbed the outside of it, a good thirty feet up. Then she had to live in the docks for thirty years, training thirty penguins to do a circus act. When that was done, she looked deep into his dark eyes.

“Do you believe me now?” she asked.

There were tears in his eyes. “I do,” he said. “I do.”

I have a Surprise

“Honey, I have a surprise for you,” the husband bellowed from downstairs.

“What is it,” she said.

“Come down here and I will show you,” he hollered, and she could hear he was smiling. She put away the hair brush and came down the stairs.

He was standing in the lobby with a silly grin on his face, waiting for her to ask.

“Well, what is it?”

“You know how we’ve been barren,” he said, grinning, “Or, more precisely, how you’ve been barren and we could not have a baby?”

“Why would you say something like that?” she hung her head.

“Oh no, honey. It’s okay now, see? I found a solution.”

“Solution?” she said, “What is it?”

“Ah,” he said, with his finger high to indicate a great idea, “It is something we should have done a long time ago, but now I just went ahead and did it.”

“Did it?” she said, “Did what?”

“Wait,” he ran into the living room and came back slowly, pushing a black pram in front of him. An old-fashioned lacy pram, as black as a widow’s dress.

“What is that?” she said.

“It’s our new baby,” he said, smiling like a sycophant.

“Where did you get it?”

“The factory. It’s simple, they have lots of these. Frank put me onto this. It’s all the rage these days. It’s not the same as a baby you would give birth to, but it’s still ours, and we will love it forever.”

She turned pale and took a few steps back. “Honey, what are you talking about?” she said.

“Come, take a look at it. Just look, and you will love it. It’s modern, it’s shiny, and it’s amazing. It can live on land and in water.”

“What?”

“Just come and see.”

She came over to the pram and lifted the lacy curtain. Inside she saw tentacles shiny grey skin, and weird organs slithering like snakes. The smell of seaweed and dry desert sand reached her nose.

“Honey,” she said slowly, “This baby is beautiful,” she smiled a wide, radiant smile, “I love it.”

He put his arm around her and squeezed her with affection. She rested her head on his collarbone, looking at the beautiful shiny baby and its primordial modern glory.

In the Corner

“I’m going to be honest with you, Mr. Baker,” said the therapist.

“Terry,” I said, “I want us to start this on a friendly note. And be friends. I want to be friends with you.”

“Alright, Terry. I’m going to be honest with you, this method of therapy is controversial, but I’ve had some success already and I am willing to continue. Even though there is the occasional… mishap.”

“Mishap?”

“Nothing for you to worry about right now. Just focus on the immediate goal.”

“Fine,” I said, “So what do we do?”

“Now remember, people come to therapy because they have a problem. You came here because you have a problem. And the type of problems people bring to therapy are usually secrets. Imagine there is something ugly and painful, perhaps abominable and tormentous, in the corner of your room. You go about your day not looking at it, not talking about it, not acknowledging it. You work, you eat, you sleep, while this thing grows in the corner of the room, always outside your field of vision, but always there. And it lets you know it’s there from time to time. Are you picturing it?”

I nodded slowly and then a growl came from the corner of the room, like the sound of two universes rubbing against each other as they pass in the void. I turned my head towards it. Slowly.

Crafty

The number four streetcar rolled away just as I reached the stop, so I missed it, but I was lucky because another number four rolled right behind it. It was odd, I admit, but I quite enjoyed the ride. Other than me, there were three people on board, as a child observed. It was more or less like that all the way because everybody got on board the first number four and only stragglers got on board this one.

I noticed the driver really took his time and he even stopped among the trees for a minute, even though there were no traffic lights in view. I approached him then.

“You know, it’s very crafty of you,” I said

“You mean that in a good way?”

“Of course,” and we fist-bumped.

Ageless

Two ageless women were sitting across from me on the train. As soon as they got on, one picked up a book and the other put her headphones on to listen to music. They spent most of their trip like that, exchanging smiles every once in a while.

I could not tell what their relationship was, were they friends, a couple, mother and daughter, sisters? At one point, the one that was reading the book got a phone call. As she answered it, she passed the book to the other one who started reading it immediately. She read it for a few minutes, and then put it in her bag. She nodded at the other woman and they got ready to get off the train.

They said goodbye to me before they left. I wondered if they kenw each other’s thoughts. And did they know mine? And did I know theirs?

Got a Call

The phone rang. She hesitated to answer because she knew it was him. She knew he would say he still cared about her and he was sorry. He would say he got enough perspective to know he did wrong and he would be faithful from now on. She would not have the strength to tell him she wanted to move on. She knew she would get back with him.

The phone stopped ringing. She went into the kitchen to make herself some chamomile tea. As the water was about to boil, the phone rang again. She knew she had to pick up this time. She ran to the living room.

“Ms. Eagleston,” said the man on the phone, “This is the President of the United States of America. We need your help.”

Best Teacher Ever

Mr. White was one of the greatest teachers we knew, but his love for apples made him rather fat so we decided to make the world a better place by destroying him.

We put lard in his briefcase, we made loud noises at night in the boys dormitory, we burned a lock of his hair on the altar of Greed. All to make sure Principal Black gave him the pink slip. But what really did it was when we put strychnine in Mr. White’s coffee. He seemed to taste it a little bit, he made a sour face, like he just ate a lemon, but he either thought he deserved bad coffee, or he simply decided to die. Either way, he was out within six hours.

We celebrated by dancing in front of the big mirror in the music room. Oh la la la la la la laaaah. Oh la! The music was so beautiful.

Alas! The day after that the school already had a new Mr. White. It must have grown him as a defense mechanism against sinister schoolboys. What were we to do? If only we could put strychnine in the school’s coffee.

Unemployed

When I was little, we would play all day and live off the land all day. Tommy, Derek, Lisa, Hugh, and I, all the kids from the neighborhood. We would eat berries and apples, or dig up roots and make stew. We knew how to make a fire, we had an old pot, some bowls. We even knew how to catch fish. I would come back home late in the evening, not have any dinner, not watch TV, just go to sleep, anxious for another day.

When my sickness finally made me stay in bed, my dad, who did not have a job, would spend all days with me. He would come up with games and things to do, we wrote a few books, painted some pictures. When we ate spicy food, our eyes would water and we would laugh about it. It was the best thirteen months of my life.

When I died, my mom told my deadbeat dad to move out.

Ghost Stories

All ghost stories are bullshit. I know, because I have seen real ghosts in my life and it is nothing like what people describe.

See, in ghost stories, people see an apparition emerging from the wall, or something moving in the dark, or perhaps objects flying across the room. In reality, this world and the next one are too far apart for things like that.

When I see a ghost, it is always only late at night, and it always hurts. It is a searing headache, a flash of bright lights, a deathly glow, loud noise. There are sometimes people in the other room, or neighbors above and below, and they never hear or see anything. That is because I am aligned to see it and they are not.

And the ghost is not a dead person, or at least not quite. It is pieces of a dead person, memories, still images, happenings. Ghosts are like wild animals or deep-sea invertebrates. They only pretend to be quasi-human. They are nothing like us.

A girl often appears to me. Her name is Barbara. Sometimes, it is only one eyeball filling the entire room. Bloodshot, tired, frantic, it searches until it finds me in my bed and then penetrates me with its dead light. Judges me.

My uncle sometimes appears, or what is left of him and my cousin. They died a few years apart, must have morphed in the afterlife. They behave like a spider. I do not know how else to describe it.

Sometimes I see the ghosts of organs they cut out of people and threw away, or the ghost of a Thursday last month. I know the sky is full of giant ghosts of nations and institutions, monstrous creations of the human mind. I am glad they do not care to appear to me, but just to be safe, I never sleep outside.

Sometimes, ghosts have a purpose. They ask me for a prayer, ask to hear a story, or even a single word. Other times, they just torture me, or do something that leads to their own destruction.

The sexual ghosts are the worst because they make me do things that are forbidden by the Bible. I tremble at the thought of righteous ghosts coming to take revenge. I am terrified of dying and meeting God. He must be the worst of them all.