The City Sleeps

The door rattled to a halt behind Patrick, the creak drawing the hesitant eyes of every citizen permitted to be outside.


These same sullen eyes noticed the approach of a police vehicle and returned to the cement.


Lights were dim, the curfew was set, and the patrols were watching.


Patrick raised his hood and glanced up and down his narrow, dense street of uniform dark brick. Neon lights illuminated colorful patterns on windows advertising pastries. Always pastries.


Patrick geared to the right, descending, smiling as he smelled the scent of pastries wafting his way from a gentle-green lit corner shop. A rotund man working the dead pastry bar made eye contact but averted.


As though having found a lost kitten, a concealed figure ran up to Patrick, embraced him, and pulled him down a side-street, unlit, but undoubtedly under-surveillance.


The smile crunched to a glower and Patrick punched the friend across the nose. He stumbled to the moist stone and groaned.


“You will never be that excited to see me again,” Patrick warned, glancing in both directions to assure the street maintained its lack of civilians.


“I´m sorry, I´m sorry! I thought I was lost and I haven´t seen you in weeks.” He stayed on the ground, shaking his whiskered-head with self-disappointment.


“They warned me about you, the police, that you´d be frantic. Get yourself off the ground.”


The friend obeyed, continuing to shake his head, behavior typical of his drug-of-choice.


“You´re using right now?”


“I´m sorry, I´m sorry!”


Patrick´s smile returned. “Why would I care?” A pale, leathery hand pulled back the hood concealing his face, and the friend began to cower, eyes widening and respiration becoming panicked. He found himself staring at the hairless and scarred face of a man he once knew.


“What did they do to you?” In exasperation, the stranger felt each individual scar. “How can you see?”

A cackled laugh escaped Patrick, a laugh once deep and boisterous now dead.


“How do you think?”


“How much do you need?”


“All of it. The police want all of it. For me.”


The friend glanced away, and then dared to say, “They don´t want me to, Pat.”


The leathery hands slipped and coiled themselves around the friend´s veined neck and threatened to tighten. “I wouldn’t miss you. Your family wouldn’t miss you. She wouldn´t miss you. Now give me the damn drugs.”


“If you don´t kill me they will, Pat. They will.” As tears welled up in his friend´s eyes, Patrick felt a stir within his stomach, a palpitation of his heart, and he hated it.


“Who´s they?”image


A drop of moisture plunked to the stone from a fire escape above. The friend´s eyes altered their focus, directing fixedly into the eyes of Pat like a forlorn puppy before punishment. “You need to kill me.”


“Who´s they?”


“The police, Pat. If I give you what you need, they’ll kill me. So you need to do it.”


Whirring past their alley, the flashing lights of a police car awoke Patrick from his brief stupor. “But I work for the police.” He knew that whoever was in that car was fully aware of their presence in the alley. This meeting was on record, planned. Then why did they make me conceal myself under this hood and jacket? Because I´m a monster. They don´t want me to scare anybody.


“I know you do, Pat, but think about it. Do they want you anymore?”


Patrick´s hands returned to his sides as he faltered backwards, running into the brick behind him. “But I…these scars, my eyes, everything I did for them, and they´re just going to get rid of me?”


Sound waves reverberated off the compacted walls as the gentle-green pastry shop owner slammed the door. Closure. At this time of night, the rotund man´s clacking heels and the plunking of moisture were all that could be heard and darkness all that could be seen as at last all neon nights were turned off.


“You’re sick, and you know that,” the friend muttered, his entire body now shaking. “You need these drugs to survive, and without them you´re useless.”


“Are they planning on killing me?” They´d have to, wouldn´t they, because I know them and I know the police, and I know how this city actually works.


“Patrick…”


Then he realized. “You were supposed to kill me tonight.”


“You know I’d never do that, Pat…”


“Don’t say that. You’ve killed more people than I have.” Patrick raised his hood again, to conceal himself once more while I thought. If the force really didn’t want him, where would he go? “If you fail and don´t kill me, they´ll get us both. We’re both dead men.”


Silence reached their alley, and combined with the pressing darkness, Patrick felt as though he were in his bed hiding under his covers once more, as he had been all last week, waiting for his next dose of drugs. I am weak.


“You can run, Pat, and you know how to fight, but I don´t. I´m gone and you know that. The drugs, they’ve ruined me, but they help you and you deserve them.” The friend´s voice was timid, wavering, his body continuing to tremble, the peak of his high. “I won´t feel it you know, if you do it right now.”


What a strange drug, that one, leaving you coherent but emblazoned in a world of feigned confidence and immortality if you weren’t taught how to use it. But I´m with the police, I know how to use it. “I’ll find out what they’re up to, Ryan, and I´ll fix things for you, I swear.” Patrick lifted himself off the moist stone and moved himself slowly towards his shivering friend.


“I know you will, that´s why I’m not worried. That´s why I couldn’t kill you. It´s you, it always has been.”


“And the drugs? Where will I find them?”


“There´s a note in my left pocket.”


Patrick slipped a deft, leathery finger into black denim jacket and removed a long, steel blade customary of the police force here in the walled-city. He almost said something, maybe last words for his friend, maybe an apology or a recollection, but the palpitations began again, and the dryness in his throat, and although he knew it was from withdrawal, he wondered if there wasn’t some sadness in there, so he chose to remain wordless.


A swift swipe drew the blood from his friends veined neck. A splutter of attempted words spilled from his mouth like the blood that followed it, and soon Ryan was on the stony ground, lifeless.


Then the police sirens began, and the blinding of the lights. His hand shaking, maybe from panic, but more likely from withdrawal, he desperately searched the left pocket for anything, clutching at every scrap as if a raccoon scrounging about. Then he found the hidden zipper, concealed in the pocket. When the note was free of its cage, Pat scurried away into the darkness, deeper into the alley.


Suddenly he found himself a fugitive, running from the very organization he had been working for for five years.


But he didn´t feel so terrible. This was his opportunity.

Hand Funeral

Aster placed the torn headphones into his ears. Viewing himself on the screen, he adjusted his collar, practiced his brilliant smile, and assured no obscene objects were apparent in the background.


The tone began.


Adrenaline sparked the flush of his cheeks and the trembling of his vocal cords. His vision blurred as his pupils dilated in anticipation of what sight awaited.


A man appeared, heavy-set and already balding at late twenties, wearing a casual university sweatshirt. Aster tensed, wondering if he had overdressed for a student position interview.


The interview started at a quick pace, the interviewer leaving no time for introductions and immediately laying down a limit of twenty minutes. There were many others to get through today.


Aster agreed, he understood, attempted a greeting but was sliced aside by the first of five questions. His pinky finger fell off.


As practiced, Aster began at a slower-pace, to portray confidence, to ensure his voice didn´t waver.


His voice wavered and the pace of his speech became that of an arrow released without control.

It pierced his ring finger, leaving bone shards and blood splatters upon his recently polished desk.

How embarrassing this all is. After all the effort I went through to make my room clean for the interview.

The interviewer asked poor Aster what he believed his greatest weakness was. Hesitating, the collared student regretted not having planned for such a standard question. He panicked. The boomerang snapped his middle finger and returned to the interviewer without a response.


The conversation became an awkward ensemble of Aster´s smiles and the interviewer´s downcast gaze. Maybe he´s having a worse day than I. Either way, attempts at eye-contact were rejected. Aster stumbled on the fourth question and his pointer crumbled upon the wild, pathless phrasing.


The fifth and final question held a gun to his thumb and asked if he had any final words. “Is there anything else we should know about you?”


In a final effort to salvage himself, Aster rambled about punctuality and discipline, but the clichés, he knew, were an un-inspirational bunch of last words.


And so his left hand´s funeral was a disappointment to all.


The interviewer hung up, and Aster remained seated, staring at his keyboard, wondering how he was going to type from now on with only his right hand.

Vague Prologue

A frail, lifeless mouse limped over rotting birch boards to hide itself within the decomposed wall.

A squeak followed it along, slipping through the clenched teeth of a robed elder dying on his molded desk.

A dark figure, forced on top, firmly ensured his grip on the elder´s neck never wavered in strength. He was fat, not muscular, but rage confused the two.

The intent was not murder.

The robed elder´s arms flailed, snatching at the stale air, stagnant, unmoving through the cracks in the boarded windows.

The white, wispy beard firmed. Eyes reddened as blood vessels imploded, lips cooling to a sullen purple.

The intent was not murder but death entered that night.

And a squeak followed it along.

The Family Part 3/4

In the house they heard the scream.

The mother´s first reaction was to burn her hand on her ironer, to which she reacted further by falling to her knees and yelling “MY HAND, I´VE LOST MY HAND!” She stood up and began tearing the shirt she was ironing to shreds, a look of pure Lindsay Lohan on her face. “MY DAMN SON´S SHIRT RUINED ME.”

The son´s first reaction was, well, he didn’t really react because, I mean, you know by now that he’s pretty deficient mentally. But when his mother started accusing him and tearing at his dress shirt to be worn for his fifth grade graduation lunch the next day, he cried again. Dear god, that kid was going nowhere in life.

The daughter recognized the scream at once as pouring forth from the handsome, profound vocal cords of her father. She wanted to impress him today, needed to, if this marriage ever might work out. Stumbling through her closet, she found her mother’s wedding dress and slipped herself inside with ease. Because she was five years old.

The father intended to slam the telephone’s plug into the outlet but continued to commit blunder after blunder until realizing it wasn’t, in fact, an outlet but the top of a piggy bank.

He tried again with the real outlet and it worked. The piggy bank having failed him, he launched it out the window like a mid-life crisis middle-class white suburban accountant dad free throw shot intended to impress only himself. “I’M STILL COOOOL”
So the piggy bank shattered on the kitchen floor.
And the father wondered what life as such a man would be like. Maybe like eating at Olive Garden with diabetes. Yeah, that food is fantastic in the moment, but those sugs be real high later, and that will make you suffer.

The father’s cell phone rang but he “hung up” on it without any interest in the caller.

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The daughter came sprinting down the stairs yelling, “Daddy, daddy, do you love me?” Unfortunately, at about the halfway checkpoint, she tripped on her dress and flipped head first down the rest of the stairs, thinking, My gymnastics teacher must be so proud of - unconscious.

The mother followed. “I’M NEVER GONNA WALK AGAIN!” At the bottom landing she spared no moment in running to the kitchen, stomping twice on the stomach of her unconscious daughter.

The son decided his room was safest, but his gentle sobs could be heard not from the kitchen so the father and mother forgot about him.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” The mother screamed while slapping the father with her charred left hand.

“WHO CALLED YOU? DON’T LIE BECAUSE I KNOW EVERYTHING.”

Then the doorbell rang.

The Love Death of Henry DcWittle Part 2/3

An African man was approaching, and fearing a similarly awkward situation as to what just occurred with the Italians, Henry grabbed his bag. Accustomed to these situations, he knew to  maintain his gaze averted and walk towards the man instead of in the opposite direction. Henry was sympathetic, of course, and didn’t want these type of people to think he was running away.

The wind grew stronger and the roses began to scatter to each side of the path.

The sun became shrouded in a mass of thick, inauspicious clouds. The word ominous would have been too revealing—his death remained a mere 500 footsteps in the future.

Just as a last streak of sol disappeared, the African’s eyes seemed to flash, they widened, for a second his face displayed a form of concern, of foreboding, maybe even fear, but when they reopened he relaxed. And Henry found those same eyes fall upon him…

“Hey, man! What’s up?”

Everybody is just so kind, Henry thought. Really human contact wasn’t a bad thing, and it seemed his dusty blonde hair had betrayed once more his English-speaking heritage. Again, Henry didn’t mind.

“Hey! I was just, you know, passing some time in a park, with my bag, enjoying the weather…”

“Dude, where you from man?”

“Iowa, the United States.”

The stranger advanced, grabbed Henry’s hand, and gave it a firm shake, which, along with his large facial expression, revealed some sort of affirmation, of approval, as if he were without words trying to convey, Hey, man, the U.S., that’s great, I’m happy for you.

“And you?” Henry responded, using his conversational abilities to, well, equalize the conversation.

“Nigeria, but my family moved to Chicago a while ago, so, yeah, my brother actually is doing medical school there now, and my parents have great jobs. It sounds great in that country.”

The branches on the trees moaned from the increasing strength of the wind. Every ten seconds a peculiarly large raindrop fell upon the bricks, and soon Henry noticed a brilliant pattern of almost perfectly shaped wetspots surrounding him and this man, forming a circle around them.  Within this circle no roses remained, just the water. Ten feet in each direction, the circle ceased, the ground left undisturbed.

“But, why aren’t you with them?”

The silence that followed was that of two sitting in a car with the engine running, every gap of time filled with this thrumming, this moaning, which actually only intensified the lack of human words, as one knows the other wants to say something but the other isn’t ready.

There was some sort of familial bond between the two of them. And Henry had a sneaking suspicion why.

“Wish I could say, man.” His eyes fell to the ground. “Well, the rain is picking up. I’m gonna get to some shelter. It was nice meeting you, brother!”

A final handshake, an exchange of nods, one last look of consternation, and he departed. Upon leaving the circle, he looked up in confusion, noticing the lack of rain everywhere else, but continued onward,  never looking back.

Henry felt some inkling of aversion to taking one more step. Goodness, things have taken a turn for the peculiar, and he pondered why that encounter left him feeling less holey than before, less unfulfilled, but at the same time anxious for something. Let’s see what the rest of today brings.

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He felt to ensure the book was still within the confines of his Euro-style bag, gulped down the chilling air, wiggled his big toe, and stepped from inside the circle.

Striding with more confidence, the path and the roses were left behind, and he passed tree upon tree, bench upon bench, couple upon couple, coming upon, at last, the Crystal Palace in Retiro. The structure seemed made of glass. Perusing around the base, Henry realized how empty the inside was. No art exhibit on display today, rather tourists strolling about with their eyes aimed high.

But, again, Henry didn’t mind—in some strange way, an “abandoned” building always attracted more attention anyway. The curiosity derived from some desire to clarify whether there really, truly was nothing inside. Palaces are always filled with, well, art and chandeliers and jewelry, expensive stuff, right?

About to pass up on something Henry had seen already, he paused, noticing a small figure on the steps leading down to the large pond near the “front door” of the palace. This boy was downcast, it seemed, gently tossing pebbles into the pond to watch the ripples. These tiny ripples dissipated, or if they were grand enough, were devoured by the waves flowing from the fountain at the center.

The boy heard a footstep and turned to look upon Henry.

“Professor Henry!” He exclaimed, running up and hugging Henry’s legs.

“Whoa, whoa, hey champ! I didn’t realize it was you!” Henry still didn’t know which of his English students it was. How embarrassing.

“How you knew I am here? I finished the reading and vocab homeworks today!”

“Oh, that’s great! But I’m glad you’re at the park enjoying your weekend, as well.” Cristóbal, it had to be Cristóbal. That kid picked English up like his best friend did with douchebaggery—whoa, weird and untimely thought. But truthfully, the metaphor applied, both with an inhuman quality. But he´s not a douchebag anymore, no, I should call him someday. (He thought that every day).

The boy reset his gaze to his own feet and backed away. ¨Well, no, it´s that, bueno, mis padres, my fathers are fighting so, I got away.¨

As the teacher, Henry found himself in a situation of responsibility. The parents needed to be contacted. “I’m sorry, Cristóbal, but I’m glad to see you’re doing all right. I should call your…”

“You know, you are my favorite of all the teachers. When I grow up, I want to be like you: Smart, intelligent, nice, you travel the world, can speak the languages, you have good family.”

Smart words coming from a young kid.

“Oh, wow, thank you, I really appreciate that. And I wish I were as great as you when I was a kid.” Henry felt humbled, by a child. And even less holey.

“And, I move to England to use the English! Like you!”

At that moment, in the distance, desperate calls of “¡Cristóbal!” rang through the air, cutting through the now violent, impassioned winds as though they were echoing through a pool.

And then appeared the most beautiful woman at whom Henry had ever had the pleasure of staring.

But only 2 steps remained.

The Family Part 2/4

In the driveway a car pulls up.

Inside the car is a man with facial hair not unlike a Yorkie. Not completely like it, but honestly any other animal reference would have done the man a great injustice. Hair straighteners and dyes and a great brand of conditioner were used to achieve what the father liked to call “Picking up the Prosts.”

And no, his beard had never worked in that way.

Except on one woman who wasn´t actually a “Prost” but a confident twenty-something barista who every now and then played some piano.

And it was this woman whom he had married, divorced, decided “Maybe I do want two kids with this woman,” had the two kids, remarried, redivorced, then moved himself back to his high school village of Ohaywareugoin for no rational reason whatsoever. (This mysterious force of some small towns to impress the illusion on high school students that living in a city with greater opportunity is only for the children of Beyonce and Jay Z is still a hot topic among sociologists).

But to be completely fair small towns have a lot of charm and are perfect for many, many people. Like this father and his family which he visited sometimes when he felt he had had enough beers to tolerate kids for a quick ten minute visit.

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The father entered the home, the door always being left ajar by that damn son.

“But is he actually my son? By god if he doesn´t have the bushiest eyebrows, and his body is like a little fetus, and his voice is basically…” but the third insult was unintelligible, having been negated by another unknown force of the Universe. (Theory: the father´s voice was so fucking ugly the Universe just couldn´t put up with the shit that would have been that insult. Sometimes life is actually fair.)

The house appeared vacant as he entered. Which was better than anything he could have hoped for. A quick departure was in mind, but having wasted already irreplaceable dollars on the gasoline for this visit, he decided to saunter around the house thirty seconds. At the very least he could tell the family on the phone later  “I waited for you guys! Come on, you know I lov—-” hang up.

But something out of the corner of his eye caught his attention. The phone was unplugged.

Irrationality consumed his mind. Why would anybody unplug their phone? Is there something on there she doesn’t want somebody to see? Somebody, like me? What doesn´t she want me to see? WHAT IS SHE HIDING??

The anger was exacerbated by his conspiracy theory that the son was in fact not his own. His daughter, yes, but him…

Maybe the secret lover had called. Had left a message. The mother had known the father was coming over today and therefore, to conceal her guilt, had disconnected the telephone…dear lord, so she WAS still with him. After all this time.

The father was angry.
Very angry. So dangerously, incredibly angry.


SO HE SCREAMED.

The Love Death of Henry DcWittle Part 1/3

When Henry DcWittle at last decided to end the snooze game and switch off his alarm that Saturday morning, he didn’t know his tiptoe out of bed was his first of only 1000 steps that remained. Today would forever change his life by, well, ending it.

It was late January in Madrid but the weather pouring in through his open window was defiant. Rays from an unexpected sun unharassed by the Weather.com forecasted rain clouds seemed to expand his tiny habitation. Feeling liberated from the ever pressing white walls, Henry threw on his outfit, packed a lunch, and decided on a day in the park.

The sandy Spanish soil gave comfort to every footfall as Henry entered Retiro. The cliche “bustling metropolitan” evaporated and condensed into a scene he much rather preferred, of joggers and their lagging schnauzers, performers and their preferential bright and exotic instruments, touching suave natural tunes which meshed wonderfully with the chirps of the finches in the evergreens. Henry felt as though it were mid-July.

He sauntered, with more confidence than he’s ever had, past the more popular areas towards a moss-covered brick path strewn with wilting roses from some post-wedding reception now days old. But Henry had faced too many difficulties in life, and admired their perpetual redness instead of focusing on their age. He wondered, if he had been more of a determined student and had stuck with his original statistics major, if he could have figured out mathematically how many days the couple had been wed.

Images of an excessively laced and poofy, white but stained dress torn to pieces on the deck of a romantic cruise liner rocking with ease across a sunset-lit ocean threatened to break Henry’s confidence. He had always hoped to have an opportunity to be the tearer of a dress like that in a fit of romantic strength. But his love life was more like a desert than that ocean, having never even experienced a drop of rain, but unfortunately having heard stories of how incredible hydration feels.

Along this path he settled himself upon a bench. Across the way, visible atop a low hedge, was a stream, over the top of which was an elaborately architected bridge leading to a statue of what was most likely an important royal figure in Spanish history. The stream reached its end in a waterfall, whose own end remained below his field of vision. Henry had never ventured this far into the park. He found himself smiling involuntarily at the beauty of it all. And pushing aside his non-existent romance, he fell in love with his momentary solidarity in the midst of one of the most populous cities. And he just stared ahead.

At that moment two young gentleman seemed to walk past, hesitate, mutter a few words amongst themselves, glance his way, mutter again, glance one more time, nod their heads in some sort of agreement, and then turn back his way and approach.

“Hola, buenos días,” they said, grinning, as one might say, from cheek to cheek. Henry had tried his best to avoid their eyes, meanwhile trying to remember what religious sect always tried to convert people. The Jews? Catholics? Mormons? Were there Jehovah´s Witnesses in Madrid?

“¿Juegas al tenis?” The other inserted with more enthusiasm than one should have about tennis. Henry wasn’t sure how he knew he played…oh wait, yes he did, it was the simple name tag mistake except with the jacket he had thrown on earlier. His high school tennis team jacket. How embarrassing.

“Sí, sí, ¿y tú también?” Henry had always been a conversationalist just out of pure sympathy, but to be honest he didn’t want to know if the others played tennis. Not that he wanted to ask them to leave either, but these situations made him nervous. He wasn’t assertive enough to ask converters to distance themselves ever.

“Eh, ¿Qué? Lo siento, que no hablamos español bien. Somos de Italia.”

So they were Italians, eh? Maybe they were Catholic…Henry decided to comfort them by letting them know he wasn’t Spanish either but in fact American.

“¡Americano! So you, eh, speak the English.”

“Yeah! I do.”

“Oh, very good. Yes, we just on, eh, a mission here, understand? A mission. And, we, us, we so happy. And we want happy for you too.”

Henry couldn’t tear his eyes from the bridge and stream across the path. Maybe he feared eye contact would suck him into their religious sect.

“Yes! Oh that´s really nice guys. What are you?”

“Eh, hard, eh, there other lady, americana too, if she were here…I have hard time explain in English.” They became flustered. Poor souls. They probably wanted this to end just as badly as Henry.

“Mormons, Jews…” Henry tried to help.

The two began rapidly exchanging some words in Italian. This didn’t bother Henry as much as it might others, mostly because, while his Spanish was improving, he was still muy accustomed to not understanding what even his Spanish friends were saying over dinner. You have to be the right kind of humble, and have the right amount of trust, to bear this. image

It seemed the Italians finally decided on something. “Here, companion, a book for you. No money, please.” From within his Vatican-decor bookbag one produced a Bible-esque book. “Take, please.”

And so Henry did.

“Thank you, sorry for English. We go now, but…”

“No, thank you guys! I hope you enjoy this beautiful weather!” Henry´s conversationalist skills were at their prime.

“And you too, companion! Enjoy tennis!” They remained standing in the same position a few seconds too awkward while waving, but eventually turned around and continued their pursuit of more daily Retiro residents.

Henry admired their tenacity, a word which didn´t apply and which Henry, to be honest, didn’t know the meaning of. His thoughts followed more-so the route of, “Wow, so, I don’t know if I’d have the nerve to approach a random person to talk up my beliefs.” He didn’t, however, analyze the situation profoundly enough to realize the Italians had never, in fact, “talked up their beliefs.”. Looking down at the book, he felt its dense, craggly cover, feeling every wrinkle of leather like the wrinkles of a brain and wondering what beliefs were held inside.

A light breeze glided through the path, rippling the visible stream, but otherwise having no effect on anything else. His hair was too long to rustle, and the leaves nonexistent to brustle. Just the water was touched.

 

The Family Part 1/4

In the race he lost.

Upon returning home he paused outside the front door a moment to wipe his tears and calm himself before sauntering through, to impress his parent, of course. Because parents are always the harshest secret critics. When you’re younger their disappointment is easily masked, but maturity adds self-doubt and self-doubt means noticing every parcel of any form of criticism aimed your way, whether it be in the tone of their voice, their movement, their smile, the way one eyebrow hair sticks up above the rest, how she dresses, god her voice, and she needs to lay off those quesos con chocolates. Those were the son’s first thoughts upon re-seeing his mother.
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“Honey, did you win?” His mother had a whiny voice, like his sister’s furby.

“I took second.”

“That was a yes or no question, son.” Maybe the mother didn’t intend to, but there was a hint of reprimand in her furby voice. It was probably that she was too exhausted from work to listen to anything except “yes” or “no.”

“That means NOO, duh mom,” the sister muttered, unfortunately having inherited a mix of her ex-dad’s John Wayne voice and, well, her mom’s furby voice. Imagine an ex-president.

The son’s tears began to re-well and he ascended the stairs, hoping to escape further interrogation.

The mother was confused, and as extroverts usually do, stated it aloud but a little more so, if you get my drift. If not here’s what she said: “I’m perturbed by my son’s increasingly feminine behavior.”

The daughter, being six, jotted that down in her journal, hoping someday she would be just as great a mother when married to her ex-father since he was single now. She had always done the whole “I’d marry you, dad,” but now it was a real-life possibility and she was excited for her future prospects.

“Mom, when I’m married to ex-Dad and have a reincarnated version of my brother, I’ll let you adopt him because he’ll probably be better.”

“Honey, never say that again.”

The sister was confused at her mother’s harsh reaction to her legitimate attempt at easing her mother’s perturbation. Tears began to well up in her eyes so she also ascended the stairs and locked herself in her room.

At this point the mother was alone in the kitchen preparing dinner. The phone gave a quick buzz of delight, which the mother ignored because she was too busy preparing dinner

“Hello? Oh it’s voicemail. Hi, this is your son’s teacher. As you know, the school race was today and, well, your son seemed upset…”

But the mother already knew what the teacher was going to say so she unplugged the phone while humming Debussy’s Claire de Lune. In her prime she had won 6 talent shows stroking the piano to that special tune. That’s how she got her ex-husband.

With that beautiful memory her emotions swelled, and along with the red onions, her eyes welled up and she ascended the stairs to snatch a handkerchief, realizing she had left her special one once owned by her ex-husband in her dresser.

Ending to follow…