I saw him resting under a tree, my tree. Or at least everyone called it my tree since the incident. But since it was being called my tree, however spitefully, I would claim it as such. So I’d say my bit and I’d kick him out from under my tree. Then, I’d watch him lumber off and I’d take a nice nap. It was a good day for a nap too, balmy and quiet. Much like the day that ruined my life. Just thinking of it made me bristle with anger. But I called upon that to fuel my speech and I scampered on over to him.
“I need to talk to you.” He slowly craned his neck to look up at me. He blinked his beady little eyes at me, and slowly, ever so slowly, opened his mouth. His mouth hung open for a few seconds before it closed with a click. Then he opened it again. And closed it. And opened it. This time, a tongue slid out and tasted the air. Then, back in. And he shut his mouth again. God, I knew he was always a mouth-breather but he could at least give me the courtesy of a response.…
With a gravitational sense of exhaustion, Heather puts her machine to sleep and wheels herself back from the white desk in the grey cubical. She sits shut-eyed for a moment, feels crazed, resists an urge to slam her coffee mug through the black screen.
9:11 p.m. as her head rises above the partitions separating the other cubicles, most of which are still occupied with foreheads reflecting the shine of monitors. Maree is in the adjacent box and she doesn’t notice as Heather stares down at her. Maree’s eyes are bloodshot and her mousy hair frayed and dry from the air conditioning. Her face seems barely held together by thick makeup.
“You nearly done?” says Heather.
Maree starts a little and looks up with a horrible unchanged expression of emptiness, and then her eyes blink a few times, registering the human form.
“Oh.” She turns back to her screen. “Probably half an hour. An hour at most.”
“You don’t want to come out?”
Maree doesn’t bother saying no. She never comes out, and Heather only asks out of perverse routine. “I don’t know how you do it,” Maree says. “It’s all I can do to heat up some food when I get home and then flop into bed.”…
I’m having a lovely time at Clockworld. At noon yesterday, three hundred grandfather clocks chimed at once. I had to cover my ears, it was so loud. They have clock-themed books, analog and digital clocks, and an entire room dedicated to Mickey Mouse watches. They even have pocket watches like the one your grandfather used to carry. I considered buying you one, but decided against it.
I know you forbade me to bring another clock home, but I did. I did it for me.
“How long will I live?”
The doctor’s office is painted sickly green, and the fluorescents above make it only look sicker. The doctor himself has a tie with cartoons on it, lurid yellow and bright red, that draws Theo’s eyes even after he’s asked the question that has weighed on his mind for so long.
“Well.” The doctor looks up into his brain for the answer, finding only the ammunition for a dozen or so questions. “Do you smoke? Do you drink? Are you sexually active? Do you exercise? How many hours a week? Do you sleep well? Do you like yourself? Do you drive a nice car? Who are you dating? Do they have dyed hair? How much red meat do you eat every week?”
“Um,” Theo says.…
My neighbor is a spider farmer. Spiders settle on the plants by his living room window. “I’m harvesting their silk,” he explains. “It’s as strong as steel.”
“What will you build?”
“A shield over my heart. A patch over the hole in the sky.” His wife had been high up in the Towers. He points at the bare skyline out the window. “I’ll drape a web over the city that will blind the sky with its own sunlight, so the next plane will splinter against the wall of webs.” He scratches his head. “Or a parachute to jump from the next burning building. Do you know that many spiders can make parachutes?”
I don’t know this. I watch a spider parachute from his ceiling. If I squint closely, it looks like a tiny lady falling from the sky.
– Courtney McDermott…