Tag Archives: short story

Visiting Mom

The prickling at the back of my neck started about twenty miles from my destination. Though I’d been driving through the night, I was wired as though on triple espresso. Anticipation kept me wide awake. Mom’s threat to haunt me literally came true. She was waiting at the gate to Everton Cemetery, shimmering in the moonlight, just like last year, and the year before, and the first year before that.

The moment I stepped from the car, she was calling to me, “Honey Bear, you made it!” I hate that name, and now I would hear it for the rest of my life, not just the rest of hers. Asking her meant absolutely nothing. I may as well have asked my cat to stop meowing. She loved that name. Ugh

“Mom. Hi.”

“Come in. Come in. I’ve missed you so much.”

“How does that work exactly?”

And then she was hugging me, ghost style, moving her diaphanous self through me like ice water. I shivered and clenched my teeth.

“Stop clenching your teeth. You’ll give yourself a headache.”

“I can’t help it. You’re freezing me.”

“Oh, you’ll get used to it. Eventually.”

“I don’t actually think I will. Ever.”

“Sit. Sit.” She patted the stone at her grave. “I feel so much ‘more’ closer to my resting place.”

“I don’t even want to know what that means.” I set the ledge of my butt across the top of the stone. “Tell me again how this happened.”

She sighs. “Must we go over this every year?”

I nod vigorously. “Yes, because this is so far outside of what I believed was reality. It still feels like a dream.”

“You’ll get used to it, I swear.”

“I don’t think I will, Mom. I can never tell anyone. Who would believe me?”

Another sigh and she attempts again an explanation. “I panicked. There was so much confusion. You have no idea how confusing dying can be.”

“Yes, I can only imagine.” My hands are on my head pushing my hair back. “Except I have you to tell me from firsthand experience, which shouldn’t be happening.”

She reaches for my hands to pull them away, a familiar gesture, but this time eliciting only the shivering and teeth clenching. So she puts down her arms, steps back, and gently shakes her head.

“The choices offered made no sense until my kids were mentioned. After that, I kept nodding until I signed a contract.”

“Really? Signed a contract. Tell me again how that worked.”

Another sigh and she twirls in a circle, which honestly was fun to watch, the shimmer spiraling. “The paper appeared in front of me and I signed with my finger, just like magic, you know, in that show about that witch that you liked when you were a teenager.” I nodded, recalling my favorite after-school show.

“Did it sparkle, like a magic wand?”

“We go over this every year.” Her hands lay in front of her, palms up, beseeching. “We have only two hours. Please let’s talk about your life.”

“Okay, okay.” She leans back as though against something, in a reclining position on air, an action that makes me inexplicably jealous. “I’m still working at the same place, which is why I get my birthday off still. So no worries.” I give her my best ‘anything for you’ look, pouting just a touch.

“I’m not going to apologize again for having you at 3am. That was not my choice.” She reaches up and behind her, as though around a giant ball, in a melodramatic gesture. “The deal is made. You have to be here at 3am. That is also not my choice. You’re the one who moved so far away from home.”

The stone is making my butt numb. I’ve been here only half an hour and the sandman is sprinkling me. I yawn.

“Don’t you dare fall asleep. You know I cannot control the consequences.” My hands return to my head, pushing back my hair.

“Put your hands down.” I stand up and do jumping jacks. That helps. I try not to think about the wailing in my dreams, reminiscent of my night terrors as a child.

“Okay, if I start to nod off, hug me.” She nods, tight-lipped.

I tell her more about my life, which really doesn’t change all that much, especially in only a year. Then I ask about my baby sister.

“She doesn’t come. Still. I guess night terrors for only half an hour are not enough to convince her.” Her sigh this time sounds more wistful. “She was such an easy birth. Half an hour. Boom!”

Halfway done, I think, as I look at my watch. Fortunately, I am more awake now and enjoying the company of my deceased mother. I’m feeling a pang of guilt, and a little mirth, at the though of my older sister whose birth took 21 hours.

Rehab is Hell

Writing prompt from Facebook group Writing Bad:

The pain returns sooner after each successful release. It’s only been four hours and I already feel the ice creeping into my veins. I must find a sweet girl before the stiffness sets off the tremors. Carrying a book has always worked, so I set out again with a fresh copy of “Pride and Prejudice.” Jane Austen fans are the kindest, ironically. I’m not shivering yet, so my walk comes across as innocent still, and soon enough, a girl about my age starts walking next to me, glancing every so often at my book. She’s perfect, so naive.

“Are you going to the library?”

“Yes, to return this book.” I show her as I continue walking, not allowing myself a full head-on look to avoid climaxing too soon.

“I love Jane Austen. Is this your favorite?”

“No, I love ‘Northanger Abbey’,” choosing a less popular book to prevent discussion. Jane Austen bores me. She was not a sweet, kind girl, not like this precious flower walking next to me.

“Oh.” I can feel her disappointment.

“Are you walking to the library too?”

“Um, yes.” Now you are, my lovely.

I turn into an alley. She hesitates. I pretend to care and half turn toward her.

“I always take this shortcut. If you want to take the longer route, that’s fine.”

“No, no. I just didn’t know about this way.” She flounces into the alley. Such a flouncer, I almost break into two huge icicles.

Halfway down the alley, I swiftly thrust my foot in front of hers. She falls flat on her face.

“Omigod, I’m so sorry. Here, let me…”

Then my knee is on her back and my hands are on her face, wrenching her head back fiercly enough to rip the skin at her neck and stretch her vocal cords. I bash her face into the asphalt until the warmth caresses every inch of my body. Once again I have saved my life.

A scream breaks me from my revelry. A scream? There’s never been a scream before. I must be losing my mojo. I’m losing it. I’m really losing it.

“Rawr!” I growl down the alley. Something pierces my body and I fall forward, barely processing the woman leaning out the window holding a pistol that seems much too big for her. It’s still smoking as I go.

“You didn’t see that coming, did you?”

“Nope. What the hell?”

“Exactly.”

“Exactly what?”

“Hell. Exactly Hell.”

“Really?”

“Yep.”

“Hmm.”

“Usually people start wailing at this point.”

“Why?”

“Hell. Duh.”

“Oh. What now?”

“Follow me.”

We go down a long hallway with padded walls and ceiling baffles, presumably for the wailing. At the end, he turns left and I try to keep up as I peruse my new surroundings. Frankly, I’ve always kind of looked forward to Hell. It couldn’t possibly be as bad as Earth. The Ice Age has been catching up to me this year. I didn’t realize that releases were coming so closely together until I needed another one on the same day. Hell and brimfire, here I come!

My tour guide explains every door that we pass on the left as classes in comportment, compassion, karma, etc., and every door on the right as services for well-being.

“You’re free to partake of everything as often as you wish, but you must attend all classes every morning. Afternoons are free time.” With that, he makes a u-turn and, walking past the hallway from which we’d originally come, leads me to an entrance that opens upon a cavernous, um, well, cavern. It looks exactly like the biblical representation of Hell. Fires are actually shooting out of the walls. Man, am I psyched. There are several people holding things up to the fires to watch them burn.

“Arsonists.”

“Yes.” His face turns down at the mouth like a scolding grandma. Weird.

He motions me to follow again, so I do. We continue through the cavern, which is so big that it takes almost half an hour to cross. Women chase men past us. Men chase women. Adults chase children. There are some wicked costumes, no need to pardon the pun.

At last, we reach another hallway, with doors closer together. My guide opens #4,327.

“This is your room.”

“Cool.”

“Remember, the only rule is that you must attend classes all morning.”

“Gotcha.”

I settle into this life so easily. After working up the nerve, I lure a young girl to the lengthy hallway leading to the entrance to Hell and I wrench her neck while looking directly into her eyes.

Just for fun.

She is back the next morning. I see her in Karma class. She smiles at me. Shows all her teeth.

How delightful! I ask her again to walk with me, but she says no, that I am not fun.

So I find another sweet, kind girl. I wrench her neck in what I am now considering the ‘foyer’ of Hell. She too returns, smiles at me, and also turns down a second walk, as I am not fun.

My days become routine, classes all morning, a hot stone massage every afternoon, and a new sweet girl each evening just for fun. It seems as though everyone comes to Hell. The cavern I saw was not the only one, and the foyer not the only entrance. Hell is huge! Even if someone passes us in a foyer, no one stops me. No girl ever resists.

Three months into this amazing new lifestyle, my tour guide shows up at my door just as I am about to go in search of a sweet girl. He beckons me to follow with a crooked finger, his mouth in the grandma scold. We walk to the entrance room and through it to an office, where three others wait.

“Please sit,” requests the iron-haired lady in the 50s skirt suit. I sit in the lone chair facing them.

The two flanking her look to her, then at me. My guide stands behind me after closing the door. I feel as though I’ve been called to the principal’s office, which never happened in my life, ironically.

She begins, in a gravelly, yet firm, voice, “We’ve given you an extension due to your age. However, we’ve overestimated your ability to learn to live properly with your fellow man. The fact that at only 13 you are so capable of gleefully taking the life of another is disturbing. You cannot move onto Heaven and you cannot stay in Hell.”

“I had no idea.”

“Obviously, you fail to listen in class. You’ve gone through the Heaven and Hell class 14 times and gleaned nothing.”

“Wait. What? Heaven and Hell class?”

Disappointed grandma looks emerge on those flanking iron-hair, whose eyes shoots lasers at me.

Literally. Hurts like hell.

“You cannot be rehabilitated. You must be reincarnated.”

The floor slides open in front of my chair, which tilts forward too quickly to glom onto……….and

Bright lights blind me. I cannot speak. I can only cry. I cry as loud as possible to voice my distress. I recognize fur coats and mukluks, and then the memory of what they are fades………..and

I cry to voice my distress at the cold and the new sensations. The warmth is gone.

Scream for Ice Cream

Writing prompt from Facebook group Writing Bad:

Image may contain: text

As you run outside, holding your boobs, because of course you don’t wear a bra to bed, your attention is drawn to the receding ice cream truck, a clown waving out the driver’s side window and the dark curls of little Tisha poking from the window where the ice cream treats are meant to be served. She is laughing and yelling back at you, “Mommy, now I can have all the ice cream I want! Forever and ever!” You take off running again, totally forgetting to hold the boobage, screaming at your baby, “Jump, Tisha, jump! Mommy wants you to jump!”

And then you fall head over ass from an obstacle in the road. Ignoring the blood streaming down your face, and the pain streaking through your left knee, you crawl back to the obstacle.

It’s Tisha. And she’s ice cold.

Lucy Fer

Lucy scrolls through Facebook, trying to turn off her mind’s babble in an attempt to repress the words of those little imps. Sticks and stones indeed break bones, but words also do hurt. Natural disasters normally make her heart race. Troll commentary usually urges her to literally LOL. Grammar nazis generally get her goat going. Today, not even her secret pleasure of cat videos – those little beany toes! – suppresses the demonic taunting.

She clicks on a video of a blonde woman with an accent, the one she devilishly twisted for those happy-go-luckies “down under,” the ingrates, no appreciation at all her work. Down Under! Down Under! Just like her, but they refuse to get it. They’re too freaking happy to be the scariest country on earth, with the most fearsome animals. Still, the connection eludes them. Scariest? Fearsome? Hello!

Anyway, this blondie started The Body Movement, griping about hating her body. Betcha no one ever calls her a man. Wait! Look at these other women. They have big chunky bodies like Lucy. But none of them have her black hair, red skin. No one says they have goat’s hooves. None of them have claws for fingernails. No one calls them “Master.” No one calls them “Lucifer.”

She’s co-hosting her second religion. She’s changed her locale, her whole décor, from floral greenery to fiery red-hot mama, and they continue to mangle her name and treat her as a male deity. No matter how many thousands of years, she will never be Blondie.

“Whatcha doin’, Lucifer, watching cat videos again?” The little demon snickers.

“It’s Lucy Fer! I’m a girl!” She roars to the heavens. Yes, she knows her hears her. She knows he’s laughing. He’s been laughing at her since he called himself Zeus and lived on a stupid mountain. He’s been laughing ever since he gave her goat’s feet. He thought it oh so clever to match her skin to her latest decor. Always, the male has the power. Older brothers make for cruel deities.

https://theprose.com/post/146875