Tag Archives: Fiction

The Leak (Advice Requested)

You know when you just have to get something off your chest? Yeah, I am having one of those days.

Let me back up. I realize I never talk about my family life here, but you know, #NewYearNewYou, and New You is going to hear all about it. We’ve been having a good winter. Visited with family. Partied with friends. My husband had the last few weeks off from work, so we got in some good quality time. And, homeschool life has taken a dramatic turn for the cozy. I always schedule less meet-ups and classes this time of year, so school is more likely something done snuggling under blankets than bumping along the A train. Sounds pretty nice, huh?

However, just recently I noticed a slight downhill trajectory. For one, my kids, Thing One and Thing Two, are starting to exude the maniacal and malicious energy of two things locked in a box by a fox wearing socks, which is to say they are going a little stir-crazy. And those weeks of no work have now led to no paychecks, which surprisingly have not stopped the bills from arriving. And then, there’s the leak.

I first noticed it one morning when in the bathroom putting on eyeliner. Staring into the mirror, I thought I saw a drip behind me. But listen, glasses are in my near future and I had bigger fish to fry, namely getting eyeliner on in a way that did not make me look like a raccoon trying to make a few bucks as a prostitute. Focus was required.

Later that day, sitting casually on the toilet, (not doing anything mortifying, probably sipping a finely-crafted Old Fashion while perusing Hemingway and adjusting my tweed slacks and Annie Hall vest accordingly,) I saw it again. A drip. Clear as spit-shined crystal. Starting from the floor and falling up to the ceiling. Shit. I followed the next drip up and there on my ceiling was a slimy green puddle, a sort of radiating green, the kind of green that gives the impression that some other dimensions have definitely been involved in it getting there.

So I put down my whiskey and my…Hemingway did I say? And I called my husband, who you will remember was still at home despite both of us preferring that he not be. We looked up at the puddle on the ceiling and trying to look on the bright side, he noted that at least the puddle was growing slowly and not rapidly. Then, we got onto our hands and knees and tried to see where the drip was coming from without getting hit in the eye by a goopy green drop. There was no obvious hole. My husband taped off a 3 inch by 3 inch perimeter so the kids wouldn’t step on it and went to look for the super who was shockingly no where to be found.

Also, shockingly, my husband was called into work the very next day, so the possibly toxic and definitely otherworldly puddle became my responsibility. I spent almost the entire day looking for the super. I will call the super Turtle from here on out. I like Turtle a lot, but Turtle is the world’s worst super. Here’s the deal: Turtle has a mangled spine for one reason or another. He has had countless surgeries and walks so curled over that the hat he wears is balanced on the back of his head. Obviously, the pain and curled shape of his spine means he walks extremely slowly as well. Because of this, once I did find Turtle, it was another half an hour before he made it upstairs to our apartment. Also, because of this, by the time Turtle reached Stair Two, I felt guilty for asking for his help at all and was already trying to beg him off checking things out.

But, checking things out he did. Turtle has a very grumpy voice, as you would if writers referred to you as Turtle, and he uses lots of frustrated moans as he talks. So, his explanation went something like this: “Ehhh! I don’t know what they expect me to do about it. Ahhh! Ehhh! Ahhh! Happening all over. Ehhh! I don’t know. Ehhh! Ahhh! Ahhh! I’ll walk to the hardware store and see if I can get a good cleaner to scrub off the puddle. Want me to… Ehhh! Ahhh! …do that? <Me promising him we will do it ourselves and begging him not to make the trip> Ahhh! Ahhh! But I don’t know what to do about the drip. Ehhh! You want to call management. That’s what I’m telling everyone.” Following this enlightening monologue, Turtle let out a series of soul-wrenching grunts and groans as he processed through my apartment and out the door to a chorus of my most sincere apologies. I promise here and now I will never ask for Turtle’s help again and I will deliver chicken soup to his door every Tuesday.

So. Management. Except Management does not speak English. I don’t mean this facetiously. I live in New York. I know thick accents. Management does not have a thick accent. Management does not speak English. I do, alongside a mediocre amount of Spanish. As it turns out, Management does not speak Spanish either. I suspect Management of speaking a dead language, perhaps ancient Sumerian, that no one but Management understands. Because of this, all calls to and from Management progress from normal language to louder and slower language to even louder and even slower language on both sides until the issue is let go. And so it went with the inter-dimensional puddle in my bathroom.

So now, here I am, with a pulsing green puddle on my bathroom ceiling…oh, I didn’t mention it started pulsing? Yes! It has! I did go to the store as Turtle suggested and get a jug of bleach, but after setting up the ladder, I couldn’t bring myself to touch the puddle, let alone wash it off my ceiling. And now, the damn dripping sound is keeping me up at night. Night Two, Day Three. I would pull my hair out if I didn’t have to walk past the puddle to throw it in the trash.

So anyone out there that has dealt with this?

Serious advice only in the comments please. Follow up to come.

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You Are in a White Room: Part Nine

If you are new to this blog, this post is part nine of a ten-part serial. Ten sentences for ten weeks. Click here for Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, or Part VIII if you need to catch up. Otherwise, enjoy!

 

IX

You climb out of the tunnel and land on your feet. You are in a white room. This is not the same room with the tally marks. This room is different. It is enormous and it has no door, but it does have one white desk in the center. On the desk is a computer, which does not appear to be plugged into anything, but which is glowing nonetheless. You stalk up to the computer and notice there are words on the screen. The words read, “Are you there?” You consider briefly whether you should respond, but then you roughly punch back, “Yes.” The lights buzz above you as you wait.

Final installment arriving Sunday morning!

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Space Man

In tribute to my all-time favorite Space Man. Spider From Mars the world over bow their heads today…

Everyone had their own theories on the Space Man’s arrival. That is seven billion, eight hundred ninety-four thousand, four hundred and twenty-one theories.

Near as anyone can figure, the Space Man was born on one of the moons circling Pluto, hatched from an egg-shaped rock that glowed once opened. He was born fully formed in what was, by all accounts, a human-like body. The only distinction between himself and the humans who were drawing these conclusions were his blue skin and his disproportionately large eyes.

Also, near as anyone can tell, he sat in his ship, (which was little more than a bubble to both human optics and instrumentation,) blinking at the Earth with a confused expression on his face for six days before deciding to land.

Of course, once he landed, the Space Man couldn’t speak English or any other language. The first customs officials who shouted at him from a safe distance report only that he flapped his mouth in imitation, without any sound emerging. They said he looked distinctly like a fish when he did it.

A few minutes after that, the Space Man must have decided the time had come to communicate because every human in the world, all seven billion, eight hundred ninety-four thousand, four hundred and twenty-one of them, found their heads filled with a loud gurgle at exactly the same time. The sound was described alternately as a babbling brook and a flush toilet. Widely-assumed to be a message, the sound left the world perplexed and one too many folks in need of a quick place to pee.

Another seven days passed with the Space Man standing there, blinking and flapping his gums at anyone who came close to him, before the world’s leading archeo-linguists and several top code-breakers suggested a possible translation: Where am I?

It was at this point that the Space Man was officially declared a prophet. The thinking went like this: He looked human, but was certainly not human. He came from the sky. He wanted to tell them something. Ergo. (Humans, of course, have great difficulty imagining that they are not at the center of things.)

There were a few suicides, dozens of new religions, and a suffocating amount of awful fan art in the wake of this declaration, to which the Space Man responded predictably by blinking and flapping his gums.

In the end, two months after he arrived, he blinked one last time, climbed back into his bubble, and left. Humanity as a whole has been unable to process this news and has been staring up at the sky in a bewildered vigil ever since, still trying to unravel the many profound layers of the Space Man’s message.

Now, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to conclude that the Space Man’s unusually large eyes, calibrated to the darkness of Pluto, had most likely become blinded on his journey towards the inner solar system. Of course, this would suggest his message was quite literal. He was lost. On his way to a party, perhaps. Or maybe a sort of space walk-about. Either way, this theory reaches the unpleasant conclusion that after only two months on the Earth’s surface, the Space Man decided blindly rocketing out into space was preferable to staying.

This disturbing idea now resides in the human subconscious. And for that reason, Earth resolves to celebrate January 1oth loudly every year as The Day of the Prophet’s Arrival. The period on the end of this assertion is read especially loudly, as a dare to any human alive to even breathe the words “space blindness.” Of the seven billion, eight hundred ninety-four thousand, four hundred and twenty-one theories, it has not come up yet.

And what has become of the Space Man? Well, let us hope for his sake, he has found his party.

 

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You Are in a White Room: Part Eight

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Here’s another installment of my ten-part horror serial. As usual, this post is in conjunction with the Weekend Writing Warriors blog hop. To all those at WeWriWa, thanks for stopping by!

If you have missed anything, here are the links for Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, and Part VII.

 

VIII

You are angry. You do not know who you are and you do not know if you have a job or if you went to work today or any other day, as the posters seem to imply. You begin to tear the posters down. When you pull the last poster off the wall, you discover, with another horrifying squeeze of your chest, that it hides a small, square hole. You do not care what you will find as you climb into the dark hole and head toward the white light at the end of it. You do not care that your knees and palms are being bloodied. The tunnel heads into the center of the square made by the hallways, but at the same time, you realize it is too long to head into the center of the square made by the hallways. You want out. You are angry. You don’t know who you are.

Join me back here next week for Part IX.

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You are in a White Room: Part Six

Here is the continuation of White Room. Click here for Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and Part V.

VI

You are now in a white hallway. There is no door but the one from which you have come. At both ends, the hallway turns and of course, you do not know where it leads. You look right, left, you do this several times, and then you begin to walk down the hallway. Your legs are rubber. You worry you will fall and someone will hear you. As you round the corner, there is one second where you truly believe your heart will burst, but it does not. Now, you are staring at an identical hallway with the same posters on the walls, one door ajar in the center, and a turn at the end of it. Your agonizingly squeaky steps lead you to the door, and fighting every instinct you have, you step inside. You are in a white room.

Join me this time next week for Part VII.

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Whoopsie

The idea for this story has been nested in my head ever since I was a child, a child who had the very particular fear outlined below. As a adult, I took out the idea often. I knew there was a story in there. But, I could never quite see it. Credit must go to “B Is for Beer” by Tom Robbins for lending me the pink and flowery X-ray glasses through which I could finally glimpse it.

 

When Olivia awoke on Sunday morning, she knew. She had been impregnated by God in the middle of the night. Now she was going to have to tell her parents.

They weren’t going to believe her, of course, which was completely unfair seeing as though they were the ones who had told her about the Virgin Mary in the first place. Olivia was young, but she was old enough to know that there was a disconnect between things grown-ups purported to believe around Christmas tree time and what they believed the rest of the year. Or maybe they believed certain things about Biblical times, but didn’t think the rules applied to this Wednesday morning. Or maybe, Olivia suspected, being particularly bright, they didn’t really believe those things ever. Regardless, her predicament remained the same. They were not going to believe her now.

But what else could she say? They were bound to notice a beach-ball stomach sticking out of her overalls. She would have to tell them something. And while Olivia would not have wanted to lie about her immaculate conception, she was a kid after all and if there had been a good lie, she certainly would have been tempted.

Part of the trouble she ran into when trying to imagine a lie was that she didn’t know that much about the birds and the bees. She had been handed a book by her mother that very year, which explained among chapters about body hair and breasts, the comingling of male and female body parts necessary for reproduction, but she still wasn’t sure she had the full picture. The measurements and angles of what was required to fit where seemed improbable. She was clear on one thing though: the topic was mortifying and certainly not one about which she wanted to talk with her parents. Furthermore, while the exact mechanics remained dubious, she was positive that it was the kind of thing for which she would be in big trouble. Possibly the biggest trouble of her life.

Before Olivia could decide what to say, (no amount of swallowed pumpkin seeds, she discovered despairingly, would result in a pumpkin in the womb,) Olivia was visited thrice by angels. The first angel was almost as young as Olivia herself and showed up swimming in Heavenly light, somersaulting around the room until she caught sight of Olivia watching and straightened up.

“Are you an angel?” Olivia asked, to which the angel child nodded.

“Are you here because of what happened?” Another nod.

“Is this like when the angel came down to talk to Mary?” Olivia cringed at the comparison. Again the angel child nodded.

However, it turned out, this was not like that. Instead of a Heavenly explanation, the angel child opened her mouth several times, meaning to say something, but would then shut it promptly looking puzzled. Clearly, if there was a message, she was not entirely sure she remembered it. After much time had passed, the angel child curtsied with an embarrassed smile and left. Olivia tried to roll over and fall asleep.

Two nights later, a second angel arrived, older and male. “It’s like this,” he said, “God doesn’t make mistakes. First, you have to understand that. God doesn’t make mistakes.” This angel too seemed to lose his train of thought, but before Olivia could interrupt, he spread his hands and said, “Olivia, have you ever had the experience where you meant to do one thing, but did something else instead?”

“Like a mistake?” Olivia asked, scrunching her nose. Obviously, she had made mistakes but she felt sure the angel had just hinted that this was the wrong answer.

“Maybe it almost seemed like a mistake, but then it turned out to be for the better?” the angel asked her, nodding his head encouragingly.

“I guess,” she said. She could not really remember a time when this happened to her off the top of her head, but she didn’t want to contradict an angel. She was already in enough trouble.

“Well, good,” he said.

Olivia stared at him, waiting for more.

“So…” His hand beckoned her next thought forward, but Olivia’s head was as empty as her uterus had been two weeks ago. Finally, grasping at straws, she said, “Amen?” The angel vanished.

And so it was the third angel, who showed up two nights after that with a neat bun under her halo, who set the record straight.

“But that’s not fair! I’m going to get in big trouble,” said Olivia. She pouted and crossed her arms and stamped a mean foot onto her carpet, and then, inspiration struck. “You could tell them! My mom and dad!”

“Well,” the angel said with a stern tilt of her head, “no. Angels cannot go around to whomever you see fit with explanations. It’s undignified.”

“But, what do you want me to do? I’m just a kid. I don’t want to grow a big watermelon stomach and eat pickles in my ice cream. And,” she said, now finding her voice, “I don’t even want a baby! I don’t know how to change a diaper, and my allowance is only two dollars a week.”

“Well, what do you want?” said the angel, with a less-than-patient smile.

“A puppy.”

“A puppy?”

“A puppy,” said Olivia, her eyes growing wide. “The tiny black hot-dog kind.”

And so it came to be that Olivia had to face her parents’ horrified glances as her stomach became rounder. She was pulled out of school and forced to endure several long-winded child therapists and two sets of police interrogations. But she stuck to her story. And when nine months later, she delivered a beautiful baby Dachshund, her parents had to admit she seemed to be telling the truth.

Reluctantly, they began attending regular church services again, though they refused to dress up. Both had imagined the irrefutable knowledge that God existed would be a little more comforting than it turned out to be, and wrinkles blouses and ripped jeans were their way of showing their disappointment. The name Olivia had given to her dog, Whoopsie, only served to underline the issue, but the dog was given to Olivia by God, so if He didn’t like it, they decided He could talk to her.

And so, Olivia and Whoopsie lived happily ever after for the sixteen years that Whoopsie lived, and when he died, Olivia was quite proud of the foresight she had shown in also demanding a Doggy Heaven.

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