What is it? This man’s first day driving a bus? I swear, If I’m late, I’ll –
She’s thick, ain’t she? Man, if I had just five minutes, I’d...
I rub my eyes and sit. I made the wrong choice. Fucking telepathy. “Know all!” they said. Turns out all there is to know is that people hate. A lot. Oh, and they think about running away, stealing, and, my God, they hurt inside… at least in this little slice of paradise. I shake my head and cover my ears, but it doesn’t help. The implant uses bone conduction technology. There’s no drowning it out.
I pull out the instructions.
Thought Genie! Step into the minds of anyone not wearing a mind vest and know all! Chip will dissolve in 24 hours. If the chip does not self-dislodge, T.GENIE NOT AT FAULT! All sales are final.
I huff. Yeah, my fault. I should be flying around right now with the rest of the addy-flight freaks, but there’d been a few things I wanted to know. Did my brother-in-law cheat on my sister? Bastard. Was the lying prick Stephen stealing my ideas from my office desk? Does Mel still love me... I rub my temples and see Du Pont Circle coming up.
“Next stop, Florida Ave.,” the speaker buzzes.
I make a note to stay off the damn bus til the weekend. I stand and brush past a man who breaks eye contact as quickly as he makes it. He smells like ashes and ozone. I shimmy-shuffle past the lady in the front seat with all the bags. And then I hear it.
Wait ‘til she sees what I did. Oh, man! I can wait ’til that dumb cow sees what I did to her. She’ll regret droppin’ me. Oh, man...
The words bother me, but they aren’t that unusual, even after just two hours in the city with the Genie. It’s the tone. I know. I know, but thoughts have a tone. And that particular thought stops me cold. My stomach drops. What is this? I... feel something. The Thought Genie is basically a high-frequency tuner. Reads some kind of chem signals in the brain and interprets the neurons and synaptic patterns. Science shit. Who knows? But there’s no place they talk about feeling the transmitter’s feelings. Fuck.
I yank at the device above my ear, but it’s locked in tight. I shake my head and try to differentiate between my feelings and the man’s, but they’re entangled.
Mary’s all but dead and she doesn’t even know. Walking dead, bitch. What she deserves.
I stumble backward and shake my head. A prim woman in a pressed skirt and tight glasses bats me with her paper like a bad dog. “Sorry. Sorry, ma’am. Miss. I -”
I shoulda made her pay years ago. Well, best served cold, ain’t it, Marrrry?
“I’m - ugh, excuse me.” I make for the bus door and trip. “My stop, driver. Coming.” I muster and feel my fists clench. My insides tighten like a spring. My eyes focus on the black grippy floor. What? Why? I turn. The man is staring at me. Jaw tight, fists clenched, eyes locked. Shit.
I mat my hair over my Thought Genie and scramble to my feet. Just some distance. Just need some distance and he’ll go away. Poof. I jog a few steps and feel the connection begin to link to another mind. Thank God. Anyone else. I jog around the corner and breathe out against the cool morning brick. I feel a vibration in my head, then a pause as it uplinks.
Where did that piece of shit go? Dammit! Damn tech mutants. I’ll kill him. Freak. Eavesdropper! What’d he hear? What’d he hear?
“Help, sir!” I say to a man striding past on his phone. He raises his eyebrow behind thousand dollar sunglasses and sweeps passed. I peel off the wall and peek around the corner. There he is. Walking this way. A conservative mad man in stark relief against a city that accepts him. Wears a cool salmon tie against a crisp blue suit that cuts to his svelt body like a shell. But inside it, he hides. A hermit crab human. A white-collar monster.
Can’t think. Can’t separate his thoughts from mine.
There he is. What’d he hear? Never gonna tell another secret again.
I race. A store. Glass windows. Keep running. There, Kramer’s Books! I know it. Maybe Josh is working. Oh, God!
Go on, little rabbit. Can’t hide from me.
I bang open the door and look around. Quiet mid-morning. Empty. Old book smell. Two, three... all women. “Josh!” I call. A woman behind the counter shushes me and beckons me over, shaking her head. “Call the cops. There’s a killer - a killer coming!” She stares. I begin to cry loose sloppy tears and run to the back of the store. A way out? Back Entrance?
No way out. He’ll try to come out this way. You still listening, pal? Go ’head. Listen.
I run upstairs. The stairs creak and moan. I stumble past rows of Mechum and Bryson. I turn the corner into the wide-open space with no exit.
Right behind you.
I smell ashes and ozone. I see the huge window and race toward it. Blind sprint. Can’t breathe. No more tiles. I stop and turn. “What’d you do?” I scream.
“You’ll never know,” he says as he shoves me through the glass. I hear the crashing glass above the fray of his myriad thoughts.
Got ’im. Close. Too close. I can get out of this. You’re next, Mary.
Bright light. Grey clouds. Crack. Buzzzzzz.
“It’s alright, ma’am. I’m... Agent Foster. That man’s a criminal. Stole private property. I’ll go outside and phone the cavalry. You just relax now. Stay here.”
The light fades. A blue suit steps over me, careful of the oozing crimson.
Now, where’s that bus stop.
#Prosechallenge #superpowers #Dangerousminds #thriller
One Day Special
What would I do
if I could fly for a day?
I’d fly all day, of course,
to faraway lands,
across the seas,
over the highest peaks,
and relish every moment,
reliving the thrill
for the rest of my days
shackled to the ground.
To long for that
which is no more
and never will be again
is to serve a life sentence
in a prison of false hope.
What if, for but a day,
I could move unseen,
and roam unchecked
through the normally forbidden?
What would I do with a gift
more suited to thieves
or crooked men
of the lecherous kind?
The temptation to sin
claws at my chest
and lures a darker self out
to play with no consequences.
Alas, my conscience
is mine to bear alone.
A single, blemished day
on an otherwise faultless existence
stains with lifelong guilt.
Maybe I could perform ″miracles″
like the angels who walk the Earth.
A kind deed out of thin air
or an invisible saviour
to inspire for centuries to come
with every religion claiming
it was their God.
But alas, tis but a parlour trick
to reaffirm in the faithful
that which I myself have lost.
It would be better
to inspire kindness
from one human to another
than to keep others waiting
for the Hand of God
which strikes more than it saves.
I am a simple man
and do not want much,
except that which eludes
my fellow men --
Oh, not the divine truth
or whether aliens exist.
I want the truth
behind your smile,
that look within your eyes
when you hold me tight,
and tell me that you love me.
What better way to know that
than to hear your thoughts
just as they are born
and still untouched
by the senses?
It may only last a single day,
but what I hear, unspoken,
will keep me happy
till my dying breath.
The Mysterious Lady
The morning light is unbearable. You are way down in your sleep, and the sun just ruins it out for you. I wish I closed the curtains down last night. Well, I just cannot blame the sun. If it wasn’t for the sun, my mom would have done this. Considering all the havoc that could create, maybe the sun was helping me out.
I got out of the blanket; It was strangling my foot. Maybe it was asking me to get more sleep. But no, I couldn’t. It’s Monday, and I got to go to school, the most boring place in the world. I mean, it’s not that bad. I get to hang out with my friends and do some crazy things. It’s nice, except for the strict rules and melodrama.
I pulled myself out of my bed. Ah! How good it feels to do a morning stretch! I could hear the sounds of my bones realigning after a long sleep. I walked over to the table to see if there was any homework left to do. Weekends often does cruel things to me, once it turns Monday. I was glad to notice there was nothing much. “You are improving, Susan,” I told myself.
I untied my hair and moved on to the mirror. I have jet black hair. I mean, really black. It’s like, the light would not be able to escape out of it. But, as I moved on to the mirror, the sight that awaited was not one to turn excited of. But more like, to scream as if the whole world would tremble.
But I didn’t. I just stood there, staring at the blank mirror, not even breathing. Where the hell am I? What happened to me? Am I dead? No, why would I be dead? I am just 16. What if it was a cardiac arrest or something? No, it can’t be. What the hell! I tried to feel my body. It was there. Then why was I not there in the mirror? My heart was still racing. What was happening?
Suddenly, I heard my mom. “Sweetheart, wake up. It’s nearly 8. You will be late. Did that just rhyme? I think I should try poetry.” My mother was always like that; she talks to herself a lot, loud. I saw her pushing the door open. “Honey, where are you?” The short, blonde woman asked with no tension at all when I was standing right there, where she could see.
“Honey!” Her voice began to crack. “Where you at? Don’t play games with me.” I could see her face turning red. She was breaking down; she is quite sensitive. She doesn’t need much reason to cry out loud.
But, this means she could not see me too. I could not see myself in the mirror, now she can’t see me, standing face to face. Am I really dead? But, then my body should be right there on my bed. And I should be the spirit. I don’t believe in the afterlife, but that’s how it’s supposed to work. Soon, I realised what was right there in front of me all this time. I am invisible.
I was petrified. But how could this happen? Am I going to stay invisible forever? I don’t want to do that.
Wait! On second thoughts, this will be AMAZING!
I walked through the streets, alone, no strings attached. I was doing everything I ever wished for. I was dancing through the streets. I stole an ice-cream from the tall, grim guy. I did all sorts of faces right in front of my teachers. And I slapped Anna hard on her cheek. Ah! That was the best part. She almost fell down. This was the best day of my life.
It was now near night. I felt I should go home now. I could not even imagine to what extent, mom has gone with my missing. I slowly opened the gate. But that’s when I saw her again; the lady who lives at the other end of our block. She was mysterious, never talks to anyone, rarely gets out of her house, those large glasses and that long, messy brown hair. She was, in all ways, intriguing.
I realised I don’t have a better chance than this. I could know more about her and, she won’t even be able to see me. I slipped in through the front door. It was dark. The lighting inside was very dim. She was definitely hiding something in here.
Suddenly, I heard her movements. I ran upstairs quietly. She might not be able to see me, but she could sure hear my voice. So, I was careful. She rested on the old sofa, sipping coffee from her mug. Alright, now I had to make my moves. I decided to search upstairs first. I looked around, but I could not see anything except the darkness.
But, my hands struck something down. It was a vase. I caught it very close to the floor. That could have destroyed everything. I took a deep breath and leaned against the wooden wall. Bang! I fell on my back. But, to my surprise, I was still inside. I fell right through the wall; it’s a secret room, I realised.
Unlike the whole house, this room was sheer white and was brightly illuminated. The wall made such a huge noise. She would be up here any second; I had to hide. So, I ran across the room, to the other end. But suddenly, I stopped dead on my tracks.
I saw something. I could not grasp what it was. But I was sure I found something; I was afraid to look back. My heart was pounding against my chest. Trying to gain all my courage, I turned around in one swift move.
I was paralysed. I wanted to scream, but my chest felt so heavy. I couldn’t even breathe. It was a man; strapped to the wall, half-naked, devoid of his eyes and ears. There were no feet beneath his pants and no palms after his wrists. There were wounds were all across his body. I felt to vomit but somehow controlled myself.
But, his ribs were moving. He was breathing. He was alive. Oh my God, this was a grave mistake. I should never have come here.
“Please don’t hurt me anymore.” The man cried. There were no tears. But, his voice was trembling. “Please.”
I stayed quiet. I didn’t know what to do. I had to hide, I ran to the corner and hid behind the table. It was not safe. But, I had no other place to go. That lady will kill me. I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die, not like this. I wept, closing my mouth tight. She was here.
She looked around the room like a beast. Then, she went straight at the dying man. “Who is here, Tyran?” She screamed at him. “I don’t know, I don’t know.” The man was crying. I felt helpless. What should I do? She was speaking again, ” I know someone’s here. Show your face.” She was laughing now.
But she could not see me. So, if I could get past her in a quick run, maybe I could survive. That was when I looked at the wall against me. I could see a shadow; a shadow of myself. I am visible. She can see me. I looked around to see what she was doing. But, she was not there. My heart was racing now. Suddenly, I felt someone behind me.
I was too afraid to look around. I don’t want to die. God, please help me. But I could now see two shadows on the wall. Oh, God! What can I do? I could not stop my tears. I slowly looked around, ready to accept my cruel fate. She stood there, looking directly at me. She was smiling, but that was definitely not one born out of joy.
And all I loved, I loved alone
I sign my life away for $25,000. More than I’m worth but it’s not like I’m going to tell them that. After all the needles and tubes and tests, I’m a bit wobbly as I make my way out the main entrance of the clinic. Is it the pill that makes my stomach knot and my palms sweat, or is it the knot of unease settled in my stomach?
The sun burns through the thin fabric of my sweater and I shiver, lifting a hand to sheild my eyes. I’m not invisible, yet no one pays me any attention. Can’t they see the wires snaking up my spine or the camera nestled in the golden rose strapped around my neck?
Maybe the pill kicked in sooner than expected. Afterall, I’m not a rat. Which is something they’ve told us too many times to count, though as a warning or a form of comfort, I’m not sure. Even in the latest batch of tests, a rat died, limbs jutting out at jagged angles, mouth open and blood crusted around its eyes.
They gave us one last out before taking us back, one by one, into the exam room. As our group shrunk from twenty to nineteen, eighteen, seventeen, I didn’t miss the way their eyes darted from one dusty picture frame to the next, fingers intertwining in their laps and feet tapping erratic rythms on the glossy tile. They’d taken our phones at the front desk but I’d brought a poetry book which I flipped through, trying to block out the annoying melody of nervousness. My eyes skimmed each page, every word burned deep in my brain from years of sleepless nights.
I tried to skip page 49. And yet, the ink pulled me in and I couldn’t get my fingers to move past it. The lines formed chains, tugging me down, down, down until I found it among the waterstains.
From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were—I have not seen
As others saw—I could not bring
My passions from a common spring—
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow—I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone—
And all I lov’d—I lov’d alone—
Two words had been sloppily scribbled above the dash. With you. I heard the words, echoing and repeating long after my head grew foggy from all the vials of blood they took.
And all I lov’d—I lov’d alone with you.
It’s a little hazy now, a memory I left behind when I stepped out onto the sidewalk. The book is tucked away in my backpack, where it will probably stay until I can bring myself to dig it out again. I don’t even know why I brought it in the first place.
I glance in a store window. My hair is darker than I remembered. Longer, too. And my undereyes are so puffy it looks like I cried all night, which I haven’t, of course. I make a mental note to get an eyemask later.
I don’t. Get the eyemask, that is. The subway’s too crowded to even breathe and I’m so sick and tired of bodies being crushed into mine I can barely stand to look at another person within a hundred feet of me. Which is basically everyone.
Only when I’m in the stairwell of my apartment building do I finally get some space. Definetely no quiet though, with muffled shouts and thumps bleeding through the walls. My skin prickles with sweat and my steps slow. I hate this place, the way the air sticks in my throat, heavy with that attic smell—all dust and insulation and crumbling memories.
But it’s all I can do to not sit down on stair 169. The door is right there, looming over me, but if I sit with my back to it I can pretend it’s not there. But eventually my legs will carry me through this door to one marked 9E.
Two hours, they said. So if they’re right and my body responds like a rodent a mere fraction of my size, I should be invisible in twenty minutes. I wonder how the other half of the trial group are doing, trapped in isolation chambers and surrounded by cameras and one-way mirrors. The rest of us will be compared to them in what I was told was an effort to determine the effect of strong emotion on the duration.
Or maybe I got a sugar pill or something and they want to see if the placebo effect is strong enough that I turn myself invisible. A tiny laugh escapes my lips. It’s not much, but it gets me into the hallway.
By the time I get to the door my legs hurt and my fingers shake a little as I fumble for my key. I push my way inside, dropping my backpack on the floor with a dull thunk. The air is dry, empty and almost stale. Not a single light is on, the bright glow of a streetlamp fighting to get through drawn curtains. It has almost always been like this, and yet a small part of me hopes —well, nevermind.
“This is my lovely abode,” I say for the researchers monitoring me. I doubt they’re amused. “I can’t decided which crime I want to commit in fifteen minutes.”
I bet that’s what the others are planning on doing. And nobody’s going to stop them, not even the researchers. That rush of adrenaline, the spike of panic—it’s perfect.
For a moment, I entertain the idea. It’s a distraction, a chance to be someone else for a night without consequences. But that’s not really what I want. Not anymore.
I flick on the light over the kitchen sink as I slip off my sneakers and kick them in the general direction of the other shoes. There’s half a chicken sandwhich next to a plate of spaghetti I should have thrown away a week ago. Neither sounds appealing and I’m not hungry so I might as well go lie down on the couch.
The still room begs me to stay and I linger for a heartbeat under the faded yellow glow. The shivers are back, cold seeping from the fake marble countertop into my arms. I have what, ten minutes now? Time is dragging as it slips through my fingers and even my phone seems confused, the spaces between each minute growing uneven.
I rummage through the drawers without so much as a word as though I don’t already know exactly what I’m looking for. Maybe all of my observers have become bored to tears and left, though I doubt it.
Finally, among the matches, two pocket knives, a pair of scissors and a stack of multi-colored notecards, I find it. Ripping off a piece of duct tape, I wrap it around and around the charm containing the camera. In my mind’s eye, I see the researchers freaking out in their lab over loss of visuals on Patient String of Random Numbers like in the movies.
“I’m just going to take a shower and I don’t think you need to see that. I mean, I’m not invisible yet.” They won’t come bust down my apartment door because they can’t watch me for fifteen minutes, will they? “Oh, and the mic too...that’s just weird, man. And I’d like to note I’m not breaking any terms of the contract I signed. I’m not removing any of the equipment from my body nor causing any damage to them.”
At least, I don’t think so. I hope not.
I cover the mic before I change my mind.
Jumbled syllables fall from my mouth as I scramble back. Splotches of my hands float in the air, my knuckles disconnected from one another. I rip at my sweater, struggling to pull it over my head.
I can’t breathe. Panic explodes through my body at the sight of my dissolving arms. Even the skin tight body suit they gave me is phasing in and out. My vision wavers and blurs. I think...I think I’m going to pass out. I can’t...
My stomach flips and turns, bile burning the back of my throat. An acidic, bitter taste burns my tongue and I’m shaking so bad my legs refuse to hold me. Or maybe they aren’t even there anymore.
I’m not sure how long I stay there, huddled in the corner between cupboards and the stove as I hyperventilate. But gradually, my breathing evens out and I can actually stand up. Though walking is another matter altogether.
I can’t stop searching for my arms, even though I can’t see them anymore. I’m nothing more than a floating pair of pants and my insides don’t like it one bit. The croissant from this morning—the only thing I’ve eaten all day—threatens to come back up and I have to keep swallowing it down. It didn’t even taste good the first time.
“Okay, focus, Lena.” I scratch at my arms, but the once comforting gesture only makes things worse. “It’s okay, Lena, it’s okay.”
The words blend together as I shuffle through the tiny living room area into a narrow corridor. In the darkness, the walls press in on me, blank faces angry and accussing. The shadows settle in my aching bones and I can’t chase them away. Not anymore.
Another closed door awaits me, another opportunity to change my mind. Just like those two girls did this afternoon when they left the waiting room.
But despite how much I’ve tried to bury it, I can’t. It keeps coming back, stronger and stronger and some day, I know it will carry me away.
When I open the door, what was and what is collide with a dizzying rush. The air is stolen from my lungs and I am frozen in time, stuck between two worlds bathed in washed-out blue—what we were and what is left.
The blankets swallow you up and I tug them back. You’re drowning again and I can’t save you, can’t do anything but wipe away the tear trickling down your already soaked face.
You whisper my name through cracked lips and my heart breaks all over again. My fingernails dig into my chest but I can’t make it stop. Slowly, your eyes open but they don’t see me. You look right through me, feverishly scanning for my face. Just so you can tell me to leave with a voice that isn’t yours.
Even your eyes are different, darkened with the unfathomable depths of demons I can’t fight. What have they done to you? They stole the man I loved, dragged him to a hell even pills can’t bring him back from.
I want to hold you tightly, want to stay beside you all through the night. I want to tell you something but the words stick in my throat.
I am a coward. A coward for not being able to face you anymore, a coward for creating an excuse for why your eyes stare right through me, all recognition gone from your face. I am not the woman you love anymore. I am a coward for wanting something from you that you can’t even give yourself.
I am sorry and angry and sad and so, so tired.
The carpet muffles my footsteps and when I slip under the covers you barely stir. I stare at the ceiling, the once familiar pattern of criss-crossing cracks nothing more than broken plaster.
The pieces I’ve tried so hard to keep together are shattering into a million shards, burning as they pierce my skin. Perhaps this is what dying feels like.
Like every time before, I roll on my side, my arms searching for you but all I find is the body of a fragile paper boy. You try to twist away, lost in your restless sleep. But I won’t let you, not this time.
I kiss your neck. Your skin is so cold.
I shouldn’t stay. I can’t stay. But if I leave, I know where I will go. I’ve visited the roof many times, stared over the edge to the ground far below. There’s too many people, even at night. But nobody will stop me now.
Then I hear my name again, so faint it might be my imagination. I close my eyes, scalding tears dripping on the pillow. I cling to you with every bit of strength I have left and, for a moment, I can pretend I’m not in love with a stranger.
After a lifetime of wonder and worry, it is apparent that death is not the end, but neither is it a beginning.
I frequent the old haunts, collecting dust among the cobwebs in the high corners, swaying with them in the breezes while she carries on.
She has changed. Gray has crept into once dyed, and highlighted hair, while the style has grown out. Quick, light meals have whittled away what was already a naturally small frame. She spends more time on the porch, less on the phone, more in the garden, less on the computer, more with my dog Roscoe, and less with her friends. She pauses in hallways as she moves from room to room, enchanted by outdated photos in outdated frames. She lies awake deep into the night, then rises before the dawn. The things she once teased me about she has become. She is contemplative, skeptical, aloof.
She and Roscoe are now fast friends. She even lets him into the bed at night, an abhoration just a short while back. He lays with his chin on her foot through the quiet nights and days, needing to keep her close. He was a good dog for me, and he is a good dog for her.
She is only happy when the girls come, but they do not come often. They do not like the changes. The changes in her. The changes in Roscoe. The changes in the house. The interminable silence.
They tell her the house is too big, that she can’t keep it up alone. They are right, but she will stay. She and it will fall apart together. Memories do not travel well and there are too many to pack, so she will stay, she tells them, and keep those memories company.
”But it is so sad here,” they say, “with Daddy’s things all around.”
But the things do not make her sad. They are her things, too.
Me? I am indifferent. Indifferent about the house. Indifferent about the things.
I am only eyes that hover here... watching her, and waiting.
the semi metamorphosis
it's like knives have sliced your skin to ribbons. gashes in your back, blood mixing with the stale air.
and from the two gaping holes, a pair of moth's wings. dusty and tattered, reflected through the cracked mirror.
this is... strange. unexpected, to say the least.
your feet tap lightly against the thinning carpet in the hallway. the dying light bulbs, flickering softly, have never seemed so beautiful.
there's a fruit bowl, chipped china, sitting on the kitchen table. you sift through it. bananas and apples, oranges and kiwi. in the darkest depths, you discover a rotten pear, squishy and spattered with dark spots.
there's a tangy aroma wafting off of it, sweetness bordering on rot. the flesh melts into your hands, and you can't help yourself. the hunger in your stomach comes in short, insistent bursts.
the pear brushes your lips. the layer around it is waxy.
the juices crash into your tongue. it's the best thing you've ever eaten.
the pear is gone too soon. your attention diverts to the door outside. maybe there's... light out there.
your fingers are delicate, wisps of bone. you have to choke the handle with your grip.
you are weak, paper blowing through the wind.
the outside world has never seemed so alive. your senses have magnified. waves of color and sound and smells crash over you.
there's a buzzing noise. it's close, invading your ears. you can't decipher where it's coming from, but it's close. you spin in circles, scanning the sky.
when they find dying rays of the sun, crawling and weaving into the sharp blue sky, you are temporarily distracted.
you used to despise the sun. how it dug into your flesh and wrinkled it, how it scattered you with angry burns. it made the air scorching, like it was made of invisible flames.
but now, it is a luminous beacon- of light, of hope. now, you can comprehend its symbolism. what it represents, what it truly is. you are drawn to it. the pull is inevitable.
the buzzing. it's from your wings. you had forgotten about them, adjusted to their weight. your wings are aching to fly, toward the sun.
at that thought, you begin to hover, over the patch of dead grass that was needling your bare feet. your wings flap slowly, twisting and morphing under the weight of the air. they are brittle, and the scales that encase the lace and tulle inside slough off, floating to the ground like volcanic ash.
it's awkward, at the beginning. but, practice makes perfect.
you need to start your journey now. the sooner you reach the sun, the better.
you will die happy, bathing in its light.
the higher you soar, the colder it gets. your lungs collapse in on themselves. below you is a tragically gorgeous quilt. it only looks beautiful when it's far away.
a snake of traffic becomes a glistening rainbow ribbon. smoke from factories become fluffy wads of cotton. houses, all the same, become flawlessly executed lines of stitching.
the air is ice now, not the flame you once knew. you thought getting closer to the sun would pull you into its circle of warmth.
black slides into your vision. your wings twitch, then stutter. they are beginning to bleed, a soft shower of crimson rain.
you will never reach the sun.
your eyes slip shut. your mind has left your body, continuing on without you, towards that beautiful, beautiful, light.
but your body, your prison, shall tumble to the earth and shatter.
your eyes fly open. you are wrapped in layers of silk, it clings to you, presses your limbs together.
you're still alive... but something's missing.
you claw at the threads, claw at your mind.
what is it?
what is it?
a tear blossoms. you drop to the ground, gape at the vessel. a glowing white orb, hanging from the thin branch of a willow tree.
and suddenly, you know. you rake your hands up and down your back, feeling nothing.
your wings are gone, now only their shadows remain. you will miss them, you will not easily forget.
as you walk away from the tree, to nowhere in particular, you gaze up at the moon, a soft echo of the sun's light.
One Man’s Curse
Back to school sucks. Especially this year. Normally you can numb the pain by catching up with friends or by getting back into sports. But not now. It’s only classes this year, nothing fun, everyone separated by sheets of plexiglass like we’re at a bank or something.
And back to school sales? They always make it seem so joyous with posters of smiling, anthropomorphic pencils and apples that for some reason are just so damn happy to see you. Total BS. Everyone wears masks at the store now, but I know exactly what faces they’re all wearing—the same, dull, mildly annoyed expression that says “shut up and let me get my pencil sharpener and notebooks so that I can leave.”
I look anxiously down the road for any sign of the bus, but the street remains painfully empty. I told my aunt I was going to the store to get some school supplies, which I did, but I may have taken a detour through the skate park along the way. I can still make it back in time for the stupid dance classes she’s signed me up for—apparently, she doesn’t think skating is a good enough hobby for someone of my, you know, gender—but there won’t be enough time if I skate back. The bus is my only option at this point.
Finally, I hear the glorious sound of a diesel engine, and the big, blue city bus pops into view from around the corner. As it pulls up to the curb, I shoulder my bag—now full of colored pencils and erasers that I will never use—and am about to head up the steps when I feel someone push past me and cut their way to the pay station.
“Hey, watch it jagweed!” I call out angrily. I recognize the boy. He was in a couple of my classes at school last year, but I don’t really know his name. He’s super quiet most of the time and keeps mostly to himself. I let out an annoyed sigh as he disappears into the mass of people standing in the aisle, and I climb into the bus with angry steps.
“Sorry, ma’am. We’re at capacity. You’ll have to take the next one,” the bus driver says apathetically.
“No! Seriously? Just let me through, I’m small.”
The driver shrugs and covers the receiver on the pay station. “Sorry.”
With poison in my glare, I tug my mask down, stick out my tongue, and bound back down the steps, kicking the side of the bus as I disembark.
Well crap. I’m definitely going to be late now. I look at the rear of the bus just as it’s pulling away, and before my mind even knows what my body is doing, I drop my skateboard under my feet and grab a hold of the back bumper, just like in Back to the Future. I duck down low as the bus pulls me forward, adrenaline surging through my veins.
I laugh, shocked at myself. I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff before, but this has to be at the top of the charts. If my aunt saw me right now, I’d be in so much trouble. Shoot, if a cop saw me right now I’d be in so much trouble. There are a few pedestrians on the street, but no one seems to have seen me yet. My hands turn sweaty as the wheels of my board vibrate dangerously against the uneven pavement, and I consider letting go and forgetting the whole thing before we get going too fast, but a battle rages in my mind between my desire to avoid the wrath of my aunt and my natural sense of self-preservation.
If I could only turn invisible.
Then, just like that. I am.
I almost let go, that’s how surprised I am. In fact, at first I think I have let go when I look down and see nothing connecting me to the bumper. My arms, legs, clothes—shoot, even my board is invisible.
What in the actual hell?
My first instinct is to panic, but I’m too amazed and too excited about the endless possibilities to stay that way for long. Imagine all the places I could go skating that are usually off limits, all the movies I could see for free—whenever theaters open again, that is. This is nuts!
A few stops later, I’m scrolling through a mental list of ways to exploit this new development when I see the boy get off the bus and walk towards a patch of trees a ways off, his steps slow and his head held low. I wonder what he’s doing out here. This part of town is notoriously sketchy, and most of it is just abandoned warehouses and train tracks anyways. What this kid could be up to is beyond me.
I’m so distracted by this weirdo that I don’t even realize the bus is pulling away again, and I suddenly lose my grip. I rush to grab the bumper again, but it’s too late. The bus is already moving too fast. I cus internally and slam my board against the street. This fricken boy. That’s twice now he’s caused me some sort of delay in getting home.
He turns around at the sound of the board clattering along the street, and I pause as he looks directly at me, but then his eyes move on, unaware of my presence, and he continues walking.
Well, so much for making it home in time. As long as I’m stuck here, then, I might as well put my invisibility to good use. A fiendish thought crosses my mind, and I decide it’s about time to deliver some sweet justice to this kid. I’ll just scare him a little, just enough to make him piss his pants. I follow him into the trees, making sure to soften my steps as I walk, and trace his path through the loosely packed woods. We continue on for several minutes, with nothing but the trees and an occasional squirrel to keep us company, and soon the minutes begin piling up to an uncomfortable level. There’s a weakly defined dirt path, but certainly nothing trodden enough to indicate that it’s frequently used. I begin to worry that he’s headed somewhere weird or creepy. I don’t want to know what this guy does deep in the forest.
I’m about to head back and forget the whole thing when the trees clear and we emerge alongside an old, rusted railway bridge that spans the length of a canyon. It has to be hundreds of feet deep, with a small river curving lazily around a series of bends, its water green and brackish. What could he possibly be doing here?
I follow him to the edge of the bridge but I draw the line there. I’m terrified of heights. To my horror, he jumps up onto the rails and continues along the side of the bridge, making his way toward the other side. There are bits and pieces missing from the planks below the rails, and he’s forced to hop over certain sections, something he does with complete fearlessness.
This kid’s psycho, I think to myself.
Then, when he reaches the rough mid-point, I see him take a deep breath and climb up the barrier along the side until he’s practically standing at the very top. He closes his eyes and stretches out his hands, and I feel my heart stop, suddenly realizing what he’s about to do.
“WAIT!” I yell, practically flying up onto the bridge by instinct alone, my panic overriding my fear of heights. The boy lowers his arms and looks around frantically, but clearly he still can’t see me.
“Who’s there? Who are you?” he shouts, still scanning the edge of the forest. I run the final steps to where he’s perched on the ledge and take a second to grab my breath, a little unsure of how to respond. He turns back and looks down at the river again, and I can tell he’s about to proceed, so I force my mind to work harder than it ever has before in its life and spit out a quick response.
“Your angel! Yeah, your angel!” I say breathlessly. Crap, I need to work out more.
“My angel? Now?” He turns his head skyward, an enraged expression carved onto his face, and he begins shouting. “You know how long I’ve prayed for an angel, and you decide to send one now? I’ve been praying for miracles, I’ve been praying just to be seen, and now, after years of silence, right when I’m about to remedy my pain on my own, you send an angel, now? For what? To stop me? You want me to continue living like this? What kind of sick god are you?”
He takes one final step up onto the railing and leans forward, but I hurry and grab his jeans with every last bit of energy I have. He stumbles as I pull him back, hitting his chest and head against the cold, rusted steel before collapsing to the ground on top of me. I let out a strained wheeze and shove him off onto the space between the rails and the barrier along the side.
I look over and see him staring through the holes in the barrier, blood spilling from a gash on his forehead and tears rolling down his cheeks. I almost feel bad, but then again, I did just save his life. Then, without warning, he gets up and begins climbing again. With an exasperated groan, I grab him by the shirt this time and pull him into a bear hug, squeezing him so tight that he can no longer use his arms. After a couple minutes of a struggle, he gives up and slumps back down to the ground. Sobs penetrate the peaceful air, and he buries his head in his hands.
I sit down next to him, my mind alight with all sorts of questions, and I try to decide how to react next. I can’t really leave him here, can I? But what can I do? He doesn’t even think I exist; I’m invisible for heaven’s sake.
I’d guess probably a half-hour slips by quietly. His sobs stop after a while, but his head remains firmly fixed to the insides of his arms. I don’t want to abandon him, but I’m beginning to worry about what my aunt will think if I don’t show up soon. Still, I can’t leave him to do something stupid. I could drag him, maybe? But I don’t know, he might think it’s the devil or something, seeing as he’s religious and all.
“Please don’t make me go back to school. Please.”
“What?” I ask, surprised by the sudden break in silence. He lifts his head up and stares past me.
“Why didn’t you send an angel earlier? When I needed you?”
“Well,” I begin, making crap up as I go along. “I’m here now, yeah?”
“Can you make me normal?”
“Normal! Can you make me normal? Like everyone else?”
I feel like throwing up, and guilt suddenly rocks my chest.
“Hey, no one’s normal, kid.”
“More normal, I mean.”
I’m silent. For once, I don’t have a witty remark or a throwback, and even if I did, now probably wouldn’t be the time. He shakes his head, seemingly taking my silence as a rejection.
“How about making someone see me? I don’t need much. Just something to let me know I’m not invisible.”
A tear rolls down my cheek as I’m suddenly overwhelmed by the intimate dive into this boy’s heart. I can hear the pain infused into his words, his longing pouring out of his eyes with each tear. Funny, how all I wanted earlier was to be invisible, and it turns out that’s this kid’s living nightmare. I stare at him through my clouded eyes, feeling more powerless than I ever have before.
“Why don’t you go talk to someone or something? You know. I’m sure people just need the chance to get to know you.”
“No! I can’t! If you’re my angel, then you should have been listening to my prayers! I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I just can’t. I try, but I can’t. It’s like something takes my voice and I stand there looking stupid!”
“Well, you seem to be talking to me just fine.”
He lets out a tired sigh and puts his head in his hands, kicking a broken piece of wood with his toe.
“That’s different. You’re an angel.”
His words make me feel all fuzzy for a hot moment, but then the guilt returns, guilt for not noticing this kid before, for stalking him through the woods, for impersonating deity. Deity? Are angels deity? I don’t know, I never really went to church. Regardless, whatever they are, I’m not it.
“Okay, here’s the deal. You give me one more day, yeah? And I’ll see what I can do. Just go home for now, get yourself to class tomorrow, and I promise I’ll help you out. Deal?”
School starts tomorrow, so maybe I can find him or alert someone or something. I don’t know, it’s a long shot. Hopefully I’m visible by then again. I’ll go home and see if I can reverse what I did earlier and wish my invisibility away or whatever. There’s a stab to my heart as I realize that’s what this kid has been trying to do, for years apparently, and to no success.
He turns his head to look in the direction of my voice, his cheeks stained by the dirt tracks where his tears cut into his face, and he gives me a small nod.
I stand on top of my board, looking above the crowd of students milling about before the beginning of class, taking care to look out for teachers as I do so. Turns out this invisibility thing only lasts a day, for me at least. So, one less thing to worry about.
The bell’s about to ring and I haven’t seen the kid yet. I looked him up in the school directory by his picture, and, as luck would have it, we have our first class together again this year, but I’m by the door to the classroom and he hasn’t shown up yet. The seconds tick away the final minute on the clock across the hallway, and each flick of the little red hand sends my blood pressure spiking even higher, my breaths quickening with each moment. What if he broke his deal? What if he went back to the bridge and flung himself off? The thought brings the threat of tears back to my face, and I’m a fraction of an instant away from breaking down when I see him.
He’s over by the stairs to the second floor, curled up and hugging his backpack, staring at the linoleum floor as the masses flow around him, all oblivious to his presence as they rush to their first class. I jump off my board and cut across the hallway, ignoring the insults hurled my way as I bump into people. Then, my good sense makes a presence and I slow to a casual walk, not wanting to appear weird and creepy for running up to him.
He looks up when I stop beside him and I lower my mask to give him a friendly smile.
“Hey! How’s it going? You were in my class last year, right? I think we’re in the same boat this year, too.”
He lowers his own mask. A smile passes his face, and I wonder if he recognizes my voice. I reach my hand out to help him up and he takes it.
“Sorry, I never really got to know you. My name’s Tess, what’s yours?”
“Wyatt,” he says shyly. It’s probably the first time I’ve heard him say anything inside school boundaries. I smile wider and take him by the hand back across the hall.
“Well, come on Wyatt. Don’t want to be late for class on the first day.”
As we’re crossing the threshold into the the room, the chiming of the bell echoes loudly across the campus from one end to the other.
Just in time.
“Al and I are going up to the Catskills for the night, okay?”
“That’s great!” Gabby, my wife of nearly 30 years replied. “You need to relax,” she continued. “When do you leave?”
“Oh…okay. Did you tell your parents?”(My parents live with us. They don’t speak much English and although my wife is conversational in Turkish, it just makes life easier if I mediate.)
“Yes, they know.”
“Good. Well, have a great time, my love. Relax!” She said, kissing me goodnight before turning out the light.
I felt a little guilty. I wasn’t really going camping. I was taking part in an experiment. Our son, Denny, a material science engineer, had been working on some kind of nano cell-displacing ray that diffuses human cells in such a way that one becomes invisible to the human eye (and inaudible to the human ear) for a limited period of time. Over the last year, he had tested it on various frat buddies with varying degrees of success: floating hands, noses, eyes were not quite marketable. On the upside, everyone reappeared in one piece. After a lot of tweaking, last month he tested it on himself and, accidentally, on his dog, Max. Max chose the moment Denny nano-rayed himself to jump up and lick his face. Overall, it wasn’t a bad thing except that even though they were both invisible, they were not invisible together. When they reappeared, Max was clearly a little traumatized by the whole experience.
Yesterday, Denny asked if I would try it out for him. He has a huge presentation for the NSA next Monday and he wants to be sure his claim that complete invisibility will last for twenty-four hours - no more, no less - is true. We didn’t tell his mom because, well, she would find a reason to say it wasn’t a good idea. That’s just how she is. Smart lady and the sweetest, kindest woman you will ever meet, but she worries about everything. Capital E. Case in point: She won’t move to California even though she loves it because, well, it might fall off in an earthquake. No joke. That’s how she thinks. So, if she knew I was about to be nano-rayed, she would immediately start listing every single thing that could possibly go wrong. We love her dearly, but she is the president-elect of the worrywart-piss-on-my-parade-party-pooper club.
In the middle of the night, I slipped out of the bed, got dressed, packed a little bag and left. I had packed my car with the camping gear – in case she checked the garage – so I was ready for my adventure. I drove to my son’s house. The lights were on even though it was barely 4:30 am. The door was open before I got out of the car.
“Baba, what’s up, man!” Denny said, when I got to the door.
“Me,” I said, laughing.
“Haha, pops, funny, not funny. You ready to do this?”
“Sure, I’m excited. But how will I communicate with you after you make me invisible? I want you to take me home so I can be home while I’m invisible.”
He looked at me. “Spying on mom?”
“No, nothing like that,” I denied. “I just don’t want to be wandering around or sitting in your house with Max while you are at work. I can’t open doors or anything, right?”
“No. And you won’t feel hunger or have to use the bathroom. I peed a lake when I reappeared though. It was almost funny. Especially when it appears Max had to and did poop.” He laughed a little, but clearly distracted by his own thoughts. “The nano-ray cell diffuser must react differently somehow on animals, because by the way he was sitting right next to me when we reappeared, he clearly knew where I was even though I didn’t know where he was. Interesting.”
I interrupted his tangent before he could veer way off into science-speak. “So, if you shoot me at 6am, I should reappear tomorrow at 6am, right?”
“Right. Here’s what we can do: I’ll shoot you in the car on the way home. I’ll open the door as if I’m looking for something in the passenger seat and you get out and do your thing. You’ll have follow me into the house. Then…good luck! I had to wait on Matt [his housemate] to come in and go out when I was invisible which was really annoying. I’m really not sure how useful this will be for NSA, but they are VERY interested.”
“Six figures interested?”
“I patented it already, and I will be leasing not selling. I’m offering five years, with first dibs on the second and third generation versions. Seven figures.”
“Shhhhhhiiiiiiitt? What? That’s my boy!!” I said, whacking him on the back.
“If they like what I’m selling. We’ll see. They will have me use it on their test subjects before they make a final decision. I should know by next Friday.”
“Unreal. I’m so proud of you, Denny!” I pulled him in for a hug. He let me before he pulled away.
“Thanks, Baba. Okay, let’s do this. How about we grab some breakfast at Dunkin and get you home?”
“Denny! What a great surprise!” Gabby said, hugging our son.
“Hey, Mom. Whatssuuuuuup?” he said, briefly hugging her before stepping back and walking into the kitchen. He used the half bath to pee. I will never understand his lack of need for privacy. He left the door open as he talked to his mother.
“What brings you here so early in the morning? I was about to run, but I can make you breakfast. What would you like? An omelet, pancakes, muffins?”
“Nah, I just wanted to surprise you. I knew Baba was going camping with Uncle Al, so…” He washed his hands at the kitchen sink then opened the fridge, grabbed a jar of strawberry preserves and a spoon. He ate a few spoonfuls then put it away, and grabbed a bottle of water.
“You knew? I’m always the last to know everything,” she said, looking a little annoyed. I do always seem to forget to tell her things…or I assume I’ve told her because I’ve told my parents at dinner…which is usually in Turkish.
“Haha, yeah, well, I’m going biking at Bear Mountain before work, so, just wanted to say hi. Catch ya later, Mom!”
“Oh, okay, sweetie, but, you should go say hi to your grandparents. I’m sure they’re awake despite the early hour. They always love to see you.”
He rolled his eyes. “Fine.” The eye rolling surprised me. Slamming the door to the basement open in frustration? What? I followed him downstairs.
“Yakışıklım! Nasilsin? İyi misin? Aisha, gel! Denny burada!” My father said, all smiles, as he smacked my son on the arm and called for my mother to come to their living room.
“Dedooooo!” My son said. ‘Dede,’ means grandfather. He made it his own with ‘Dedo.’ He was all cheer, no sass, thank goodness. My parents are 80. They deserve better than rolling eyes and slamming doors. “What’s up, man?”
“Denny! Çok özledim! Gel! Yakışıklım! Maşallah!” My mother said, wobbling into the room as quickly as she could after four back surgeries, knee surgery and more than a little overweight. She pulled Denny into a tight hug kissing him all over his face.
“Babaannnoooo!” ‘Babaanne means grandmother (literally father’s mother). Once again, he’d made it his own with ‘Babaanno.’ “How you doing? How’s your back?”
“Good. Good to see you guys. Take care. Gotta go. Have a great day!” he said hurrying back up the stairs as they watched him, smiling. I watched the smiles fade. Without a word, my mother went back to her room. My dad went to his room and closed the door.
Upstairs, Denny was already pulling out of the driveway by the time I got there. I was surprised he didn’t stay longer with Gabby. Then again, he knew I was there so… I watched Gabby standing on the porch, waving goodbye and blowing kisses. She always does that whenever anyone is leaving the house. It’s her way of making sure that if something horrible happens (she is always thinking the worst) the last memory we have of each other will be a pleasant one. Sweet and macabre at the same time.
When the car was out of sight, she stopped waving. When she came in the house, I saw that she was crying. What?
“What a sillyit I am,” she said to herself. “He’s a man. Of course he doesn’t want to hang out with his mom. That’s what you want as a parent. To raise, happy, healthy independent humans. At least he stopped by.” She wiped her eyes. “And he calls.” She blew her nose. “And he lets me edit his writing.” She laughed, put on her sneakers and headed to the garage to run on our treadmill. I followed her.
I watched as she set up her iPad to read, put her towel on the side and started up the machine. I peeked – 10-minute-mile pace. Nice. I used to be faster than her. Not so much anymore. I looked to see what she was reading. I read a few lines and my eyes started bulging for sure because my sweet little conservative wife was reading smut. What? I looked at her and she was clearly caught up in it. I started laughing and then read some more. Maybe I could get some ideas…
After her run, she stretched and did some physical therapy exercises for her back, made a pot of coffee then showered. She sings in the shower. She has a beautiful voice. Suddenly she stopped and I could hear wracking sobs from behind the shower curtain.
“I have to stop this,” she said to herself. “Life is good. I have no right to feel sad.”
Sad? She’s the happiest person I know.
She got out of the shower and her eyes were puffy from crying. She dried off and looked in the mirror. “Now see what you’ve done? Ugly, ugly, ugly!” She started crying again. “Old and ugly!” she started crying more. Ugly? Old? I felt like I was in the twilight zone. People think my son and my wife are a couple, that’s how young she looks. I keep wanting her to let her hair go gray just so she looks more like me. Not a wrinkle on her. She is beautiful – inside and out! What is wrong with her?
She sobbed some more then washed her face in cold water, weighed herself, grimaced, did her hair, put on some make-up and smiled a thousand different ways at herself in the mirror. I smiled back at her, shaking my head. Then she started taking pictures of herself. Full body nude pictures of herself. I stopped smiling. My wife does not believe in taking nude pictures. I’ve tried. She sat on the toilet and I stood behind her. She was sending the pictures in an email. I am very interested in your film. As long as it is very brief nudity, I would welcome the opportunity. I look forward to hearing from you.
I’m choking on spit. My wife left a 25-year career three years ago when I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. She had a milestone birthday that year as well, so was probably also in the throes of a mid-life crisis. With a great deal of encouragement from me and my son, she started pursuing her passions – painting, singing, writing and acting. Acting is the only paying one albeit very sporadically. She’s still working on getting the big break. Our agreement is no kissing. I didn’t think I had to specify no nudity. I wondered if this was the first time. I wondered what else she wasn’t telling me.
She got dressed and went downstairs. She growled a bit as she wiped bread crumbs off the table and counter and cleaned the panini machine she never uses since she doesn’t eat bread. “Fuck,” she mumbled. “I don’t get it. Every single goddam morning they leave shit on the table, shit on the counters, shit in the sink. They don’t have to fucking do anything else. Can’t they at least clean the fuck up after themselves? Fuck!”
My mouth fell to the floor. My wife doesn’t curse.
I stood in the corner by the window listening, watching as she cleaned up the crumbs, swept the floor, emptied the dishwasher (slamming the cabinet doors as she did so). Then she poured a cup of coffee and went to the breezeway to drink it while she painted. She put on Rachmaninoff. Aha. Definitely a bad mood day.
After a couple of hours, and another cup of coffee, she washed her brushes and grabbed her pocketbook and some shopping bags. I couldn’t figure out how to get in the car with her so I just waited for her to get back. I didn’t need to watch her food shopping although I was pretty sure it would be different than I expected. The whole day had been so far.
While she was gone I sat in the living room until I heard my parents come upstairs.
“O gitti. Gel, duş yapıyoruz şimdi.”
Huh? They waited for my wife to leave to use the shower. We only have one full bath in the house, so I get it, but I thought it was kind of weird that they waited for her to leave. I didn’t follow them. No desire to see my parents naked. As they walked up the stairs, I heard my father tell my mom to be careful. He worries that, with her back, she’ll hurt herself on the stairs. She has two more months of healing and therapy before they can visit Turkey. He is dying to go. The only reason they are not there is because of her health issues. He has drowned his sorrows more than one night in whiskey. That, I know.
“Kapa çeneni, Cemal.”
Shut up, Cemal. My mom has grown increasingly cantankerous since the last surgery. She is only nice to my wife. Which makes sense. My wife is the hand that feeds us…and she is always smiling and happy. I think about the day so far and think, at least, in front of us she is.
I sit in the living room for at least two hours before my wife gets back. She makes various trips from the car to the kitchen with all her groceries. She puts on Eminem (another sign she is not in the best mood, perhaps – his music is so angry) while she unpacks and puts away the food. She brings a couple of treats downstairs to my parents and I hear them exclaiming and thanking her. She comes back upstairs and starts making dinner.
And I realize she never ate breakfast. It’s way past lunch time at this point. She’s just drinking water.
She spends hours in the kitchen cooking, periodically checking her phone for casting notices and texts that will not come from me. Denny calls and chats with her, telling her some jokes he made up (or found on the internet) that make her laugh. After they hang up, she calls her mom to tell her about me and Denny and listen to whatever stories her mom has for her today. They talk every day.
While she talks, she makes chicken soup (my mother requested it at dinner last night), köfte (little flavorful hamburgers) in tomato sauce with fried potatoes, tomato pilaf (because my parents like rice and bread with every meal even if there is pasta or potatoes on the menu), and shepherd’s salad. Then she makes a tuna salad which I know is what she will eat for her dinner since she does that often when she’s made a meat main dish. She sends a text and I look and see she is texting me to take my medicine.
And I wonder what I will be like when I reappear. Twenty-four hours. No meds. I don’t feel anything and haven’t since Denny zapped me. And I start to wonder if the zap might have a positive effect on me. And I start to hope. It’s a bad habit I’ve gotten into since I got sick. Hoping for miracles.
At 5:00 she makes herself a (very strong) gin and tonic and reads for a little while (I still can’t believe my wife reads smut). At 5:30, she makes herself another (very strong) gin and tonic. She practically gulps it down and makes a third.
I remember she still has not eaten today.
At 6:00 she calls down to my parents to tell them dinner is ready.
Dinner is interesting? Excruciating? My dad tries to make conversation and my wife does, too. A mixture of Turkish and English. He asks if she’s heard from me. No. It was nice to see Denny. Yes. How’s your back? She asks my mother. My mother goes into a long explanation in Turkish and clearly has lost my wife whose eyes are a little glassy and whose smile is a little too bright.
I’m wondering if she drinks like this every day or if it’s just because I’ve left her alone with my parents.
After dinner, they say goodnight and go back downstairs. My wife clears the dishes, washes pots, puts food in containers for my lunch the next day, cleans the table, the stove, the sink and then turns out the light.
She sits in her chair in the living room and reads for a while. Then she pulls out her computer and starts writing. I look over her shoulder and see it’s a poem. And I see that she is crying as she writes. And then I am crying invisible tears (as nonexistent as her tears and sadness have been to me till today) because her poem is to me. To us. It is a celebration of love. It isn’t a sad poem. And yet it is.
I’m tired of this day. I go upstairs and lay on our bed. I can’t wait till this is over.
She comes to bed early. She is asleep almost instantly. The gin, I suspect. And I think, she always falls asleep quickly lately.
And I think, we need to talk.
And I wonder what she will say when she finds out about my day as her invisible shadow.
On a positive note, the nano-ray worked. Twenty-four hour invisibility is a real thing. Denny has a shot at a lucrative contract with the NSA.
As I lay there, tremor-less, I cannot help but hope that his invention has an unexpected side effect.
The Unexpected Icarus
The three of us stared in awe at the rock nestled in the freshly made crater. The trees all around the impact site were snapped in half outward, and the ground was utterly barren of any debris. There were no leaves, no twigs, or even pine needles, just broken fir trees and the steaming chunk of rock in the crater’s center.
“Is that a meteor?” asked Ethan, inching closer to the crater’s edge.
“Meteorite,” said Mike.
“That’s what I said, a meteorite.”
“No, you said meteor, this is a meteorite.”
Ethan looked at me with a dumbfounded, slack-jawed expression, held his hands out to his sides, and turned back to Mike. “What’s the difference, professor?”
“Well,” said Mike. “a meteor is a piece of space rock that burns up in earth’s atmosphere, but a meteorite is a space rock that makes it to the planet’s surface.” He went on, but I wasn’t paying attention. I shut my flashlight off and leaned over the crater’s edge as much as I dared. “Now, an asteroid is a rock that’s generally in orbit between Jup-”
“Shut up for a second,” I interrupted. “Kill your light.” Mike gave me an indignant look but did as I said. With both of our lights off, my suspicion was confirmed. The meteorite had a faint green glow. The rock not only glowed, but it seemed as though it were pulsing, and without Mike and Ethans talking, it sounded as if it were humming. With each pulse of green light, the hum would grow louder and then quieter as the light dimmed.
“We need to call someone,” I said. “I don’t care if it’s the state police or park rangers.” I turned my light back on to see Mike nodding anxiously in agreement as he backed away from the crater. On the other hand, Ethan remained firmly rooted where he stood, his hands on his hips, still eyeing the meteorite.
“What do you think it’s worth?” asked Ethan.
Mike shrugged. “I don’t know what the going rate for irradiated space rock is, but I don’t want to keep standing next to it.”
“You know they can make sword’s out of this shit, right?” said Ethan, turning his back to the crater.
”Sword’s, Ethan?” I said. “I don’t know what fantasy novels you’ve been reading, but I don’t see that being the government’s top priority.”
“Well, he’s not entirely wrong. King Tut had a dagger made of meteorite,” said Mike.
Ethan opened his mouth to add more, but the ground at the crater’s edge shifted, and he began to lose his balance. He reeled backward and desperately tried to stay upright by swinging his arms in a windmill pattern. Mike and I both reached out for him, but I got to him first, grabbing his shirt and yanking him back upright.
“Holy shit,” said Ethan. “Solid save bud-”
Before he could finish, the ground below me gave way entirely. I stumbled backward and went end over end before coming to a stop inches away from the meteorite. I laid there in a cloud of dust with my face in the dirt.
“John!” yelled Mike. “Are you ok?!”
I spat out a mouthful of dirt and got up to a knee. The dust filled the air around me, but through it, I could see that the faint green glow had gotten brighter. The light had not only grown brighter, but it was pulsing much faster, and the humming noise that accompanied it had become much louder.
“I’m alright!” I called up to Mike. “You see the rock strobing out too, right? If not, then I have a bad concussion.” I began to back away from the rock without taking my eyes off of it.
“Yeah, I see it too! Whatever you do, don’t touch it!” said Mike.
“So does that rule out licking it?!” I yelled.
The pulsing light continued to increase in speed, and the hum had grown so loud that it was vibrating the ground around me. Tiny bits of rock, pulverized from the impact, began to jump and dance with each light pulse. The residual dust from my fall dissipated as though being blown away by a fan, and with it gone, the green glow became blinding. I covered my eyes from the bright flashes, and just as I thought to turn and run, all the activity stopped. The flashing green light was gone, and the hum had ceased altogether. For a brief moment, there was only darkness and silence. Then, it happened.
The meteorite lit back up, even brighter than before. I didn’t even have a chance to cover my eyes when the rock discharged a bolt of green light that hit me square in the chest. The blast sent me flying backward, and slamming into the crater’s slope, sending up a fresh dust cloud. I laid there, stunned, and unable to catch my breath. The last thing I remembered before passing out was the sound of Ethan’s high pitched shriek. I would have laughed my ass off if the wind hadn’t just been knocked out of me.
I don’t remember getting dragged out of the crater, but I woke up with Ethan and Mike standing over me. Mike had two fingers pressed to my throat, looking down at his watch while Ethan just stood there with his mouth open, wide-eyed and pointing when he saw the I was conscious.
“Dude!” said Ethan.
Mike looked up from his watch. “Oh, thank Christ.”
“What’s the last thing you remember?” asked Ethan.
I tried to answer him, but I had inhaled a lot of dust, and all I could do was cough. Mike handed me his canteen and insisted that I drink the rest of its contents. They both quietly watched as I sucked down the entire canteen and waited for me to catch my breath when I finished.
“The last thing I remember was you screaming like a little bitch.” I said, pointing at Ethan.
Mike howled with laughter. “I WAS HOPING YOU HEARD THAT TOO!”
“Oh, I heard it,” I said. “I’m never letting that one go.”
Ethan glared back and forth at us as we both laughed. “No one will believe any of this,” he said. “so I’m not too concerned.” He crossed his arms and continued to glower as Mike and I stopped laughing to exchange glances.
“But we’ll know,” said Mike, pointing to himself and then to me. Ethan tried to keep scowling, but a smile began to creep onto his face.
“I did sound like a little bitch,” Ethan finally said, causing the three of us to burst into laughter.
They helped me to my feet, and both stood next to me as they observed my ability to remain balanced and upright. My legs were weak, and my chest was sore, but I felt better than I expected. I took a few test steps with Mike staying right behind me, then turned around and nodded.
“I can make it back to camp,” I said.
“I can’t tell you how happy I am to hear you say that,” said Mike. “We did not want to drag you back.” He pointed his light towards the trail we used to come in. “We need to get back to camp and either find a spot with cell service or hike out to the car.”
“Why not wait until morning?” I asked. “Whatever just happened, really took it out of me.”
Mike looked at me with a dead-pan expression. “Because there is a glowing chunk of cosmic rock shooting out green lightning in the middle of Vermont.”
“How about we decide what to do after we eat some food?” Ethan interjected.
It was then I realized I hadn’t eaten anything since lunch. We had just made camp when the meteorite struck the opposite side of the mountain, and the entire event had me so preoccupied that I didn’t realize how hungry I was until Ethan said something.
Even just thinking about crappy camp food made my stomach growl. I was tired, sore and the thought of a hot meal got me excited. I was just about to agree with Ethan but was interrupted by Mike yelling and pointing to my feet.
“HOW THE HELL ARE YOU DOING THAT?!”
Ethan and Mike both stood pointing with their mouths open. Confused, I looked down at my feet and saw nothing at first. I lifted my foot to see if I was standing on top of whatever they were pointing to, and it was then I realized what had them so worked up.
When I picked my foot up, I saw that the other was not touching the ground, but hovering five inches in the air. Upon seeing this, I rose another few feet in the air and stopped. My breathing became rapid, and I felt an overwhelming sense of panic as I began to rise even higher while frantically looking around for any explanation. Then, without warning, I shot upward like a missile.
The wind roared past my ears, my cheeks flapped like a windsock, and the rushing air was so strong against my face that I could barely keep my eyes open to see what was happening. It took a few seconds to comprehend my situation, but the moment I did, I screamed. Like a pop bottle rocket, I continued shooting into the night sky with an ear-piercing screech. But just as I was taking another breath to continue screaming, I was briefly distracted by the scenery below.
I looked down to see the mountains and foothills getting smaller and the landscape’s view becoming much broader, and despite my extraordinary circumstances, the sight was still incredible. So incredible that it got me to stop shrieking and appreciate the view for a moment.
Like a long winding mirror, the river below reflected the full moon’s light as it peeked over the mountain tops. For miles, I could see patches of lights nestled randomly throughout southern Vermont, and there was no traffic on any of the back roads or highways. The entire land seemed so quiet and serene, and that was when it dawned on me that it was quiet.
The air had stopped rushing over my ears, my lips and cheeks had stopped flapping, I could look up without tears filling my eyes. I looked around and saw that I was no longer accelerating upward, but steadily descending toward the ground as if wearing a parachute. Upon this realization, I began talking to myself out loud.
“Ok, ok, ok,” I said. “you’re flying. You don’t know how you don’t know why, but you’re flying.”
When I said that, my descent stopped, and I just hovered in the sky.
“No, down!” I shouted angrily. “Go doOWWWWNNN-”
I went up faster than before, and I mean way faster. It was like having my ears next to a large waterfall, and the downdraft was so powerful that It hurt my face when I tried to look up. A tiny hole in my down jacket tore open, and I left a streak of goose feathers in the sky behind me, like my own personal jetstream. I had been freezing before, but the loss of my jacket’s insulation made it far worse.
The more altitude I gained, the colder I became, and the harder it was to breathe. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t inhale, and my shivering had become so violent that I couldn’t control my arms or legs any longer. I was terrified, my brain was starving for oxygen, my entire body was numb, and I was too exhausted to stay awake. I had to rest my eyes for a moment, and that was the second time I blacked out that night.
When I started coming to, I was still shivering but able to breathe. I tried opening my eyes, but it felt as though they had weights attached to them. I could feel that I was lying on the ground with a blanket draped over me, and felt the warmth of a fire crackling a few feet away. The sharp snaps and pops of the burning wood brought my hearing back into focus, and that was when I heard whispering.
“We have to get him to the hospital,” said Ethan.
“And tell them, what?” whispered Mike. “A glowing, green meteorite zapped our friend, and then he blasted off towards the atmosphere like a high pitched shuttle launch?”
“Well we hav-”
“And then, after defying every law of physics, he floated to the ground like a godamn feather.”
The conversation jolted my memory, and the entire event came rushing back. The rock, the green light, flying, it all came back at once. I jerked awake, sat straight up, and you guessed it. Up I went. I grabbed for anything I could to keep me tethered to the ground, but there was nothing. Just like before, I began accelerating into the sky. The tree branches, just out of reach, blurred by me as I frantically clawed for them.
Just as it was all coming together, that what I had experienced was not a dream, I was about to repeat it. Was I fated to replicate this nightmarish experience over and over until I died from heart failure? Was I going to make it past the atmosphere this time and out into the vacuum of space? These were the questions that plagued my mind in the time it took me to go from the ground to the treetops.
Then, at the height of my desperation, I felt a sharp pain in my ankle, and my ascent stopped abruptly.
“HOOOOOOLLLY SHIT!” I heard Ethan yell.
“I KNEW IT!” shouted Mike.
The same sensation of being pulled towards the sky overwhelmed my body, but I wasn’t moving for some reason. I stayed right at the tops of the trees. It was calm, quiet, and much like the view from far above the valley. It was another one of those moments that made me forget what was happening, even for a second, and I started to descend.
“YES!” yelled Mike. “I am a genius!”
I reached down to my lower leg and came in contact with something wrapped around my ankle. I rolled it between my fingers and realized what it was. It was nylon paracord.
Mike had always been a stern advocate for bringing extra paracord on our hiking trips. It may have been the boy scouts, or maybe it was his time in the military, but Mike was ready for anything. He might have been awkward around women and had terrible timing with his jokes, but I’ll be damned if he wasn’t the most prepared person I had ever met. He was also the most intelligent person I knew, and his quick thinking had just saved my life.
“John!” Mike shouted up to me. “This is going to sound out there, but I need you just to trust me, ok?”
“Kay...” I responded.
“I want you to take a deep breath in through your nose and exhale through your mouth. As deep a breath as you can take in, then let it all out. Ok?
I took a long deep breath, released it, and the speed of my descent increased. I took another deep breath in, let it out, and continued moving gradually towards the ground.
“What the hell is happening?” I asked.
“Let’s get you to the ground first,” Mike responded. “then we’ll talk about it.
Both he and Ethan were below me, each holding the paracord, pulling it hand over hand. As they assisted me, I continued the deep breathing and was to the ground in no time. The moment I touched down, Ethan grabbed me in a full embrace.
I awkwardly patted him on the back. “I uh, love you too, buddy,”
“I’m not hugging you, dipshit,” said Ethan.
“Hold him tight.” I heard Mike say.
I craned my neck and saw him tying something together. “What the hell are you guys doing?”
Mike continued with his task. “Making you a harness.” He walked up to me with Ethan still bear hugging me and held up paracord he had braided and knotted together to make an x pattern. He draped the makeshift harness over my shoulders and clipped it to a rope lashed around a tree.
“I have a working theory,” said Mike.
“Am I safe now, or does he need to keep doing this?” I said, pointing down to Ethan, still hugging me.
Mike nodded. “I believe you’re safe, but you have to stay calm, ok?”
Ethan released me from his embrace but remained next to me, ready to pounce.
“Here’s my theory,” said Mike. “I don’t know how, but I believe your ability to fly is tied directly to your emotions, more specifically, your stress levels.”
“Case in point, when you were screaming, your stre-
“YEAH!” interrupted Ethan. “who screams like a bitch now?!”
Mike shrugged. “You both do, but I would like to get to my point now if you don’t mind.”
“As I was saying, when you were screaming, your stress levels were obviously through the roof. No pun intended. But for whatever reason, relaxing your mind, body, or both reverse the effects.”
I nodded. “An hour ago, I would’ve told you that was the dumbest thing I had ever heard, but now I’ll get on board with anything.” Ethan took a step back and somewhat relaxed while Mike and I discussed what to do next.
“So, what should we do?” I asked.
Mike looked up at the sky. “We might be isolated, but that was a massive impact. It might have registered on a seismograph or two, but it most definitely popped up on radar. Not to mention, we aren’t the only people camping out here.”
“So we should get as far away from it as we can,” said Ethan. “Let’s pack up, get to the car, and pretend like we never saw it.” Mike finished.
Before I had a chance to add my opinion, a blinding white light engulfed us. I couldn’t see much, but I could tell that it wasn’t coming from a single source. It was many individual lights surrounding the campsite.
”PLACE YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR AND DO NOT LOWER THEM,” a voice commanded from behind the lights.
I did as ordered, and when I did, I began to feel the same sensation as before, the feeling of being pulled up. The feeling took over my body, but I remained rooted to the ground. The only thing I could see was that all three of us had our hands in the air, but not what was keeping me grounded.
Mike whispered. “No matter what, you have to stay calm.”
As my eyes adjusted to the lights, I could see out of my peripheral vision that Mike was standing on the rope attached to my harness.
”INTERLOCK YOUR FINGERS, PLACE THEM ON TOP OF YOUR HEAD AND GET ON YOUR KNEES.” commanded the voice.
Mike continued to whisper as we all complied. “We saw and heard an impact but never went to the impact site. If we never went to the site, then we know nothing about a meteorite. Got it?” Just as he finished, I could see several of the lights approaching us.
Hands grabbed each of my arms and wrenched them behind my back. I then felt cold metal around my wrists, binding them together.
“What the hell is all this?” asked another unseen voice. I felt a sharp tug on my harness.
“Our friend wasn’t feeling well, and we were in the process of setting up a harness in case we had to carry him out,” answered Mike.
“He looks fine now,”
“Hence why we stopped, sir.”
“Get this shit off of him and separate these three. I’ll handle the questioning.” said the voice.
I felt another jerk on the harness, heard a knife cutting through the nylon cord, and felt it slide off my shoulders with a final pull. Someone put a black hood over my head, led me by my wrists to a vehicle, and shoved me in the backseat.
I had been sitting in a room for what felt like hours. I still had the hood over my head but could tell from the sounds of the footsteps that the room wasn’t big. Other than that, I had no idea what was happening or where I even was. We hadn’t been in the car very long before pulling off on to a bumpy back road. We stopped, then someone pulled me out of the vehicle, led me up a set of metal stairs, through two doors, and cuffed me to a metal chair.
I might have been able to pick up on more details through my hearing if I hadn’t been so focused on staying relaxed. From the moment they caught us, I had been practicing the deep breathing Mike suggested, and it was working. Despite all the new added stress, I remained calm.
Finally, I heard the door open and listened as a single set of footsteps entered the room. They uncuffed me, ripped off my hood, and began speaking before my eyes could adjust.
“What did you see on the other side of the mountain?” he asked.
My vision came back into focus, and across from me, sat a man in black fatigues. A balaclava mask covered his face and hair, but I could still see his lips moving when he spoke.
“What did you and your friends see on the other side of the mountain?” he repeated.
“Nothing,” I said.
“Bullshit!” he snapped.
I took a deep breath in and let it out steadily. Stay calm, I told myself. “We only heard and felt an explosion. We didn’t leave our campsite.”
The man held up three of his fingers. "Three sets of footprints led directly to your camp from the event site, and one set of them matches the soles of those boots on your feet. Just come clean and tell me what you saw.”
I took another deep breath and proceeded to lie. “We didn’t go near any event site, or whatever you called it.”
“Again, with the lies. What did you see at the event site?”
“I don’t know what event you’re referring to, but we didn’t go near it. We only heard and felt the explosion.”
Through his mask, I could see his face contort angrily. His eyes narrowed.
“Last chance,” he said quietly.
Just as I was about to continue my lie, I was interrupted by a voice in my head. It wasn’t my voice, either. It was Mike’s.
”John, they know we saw the meteorite. Tell them we were there, but you never touched it, and nothing else happened.”
Confused, I looked around the room.
“Mike?” I said out loud.
The man sitting across from me threw his hands up. “Yes, him too.”
”Hopefully, I can explain later, but trust me and listen for now. We saw the meteorite, but we didn’t come in direct contact with it. Also, I know you’re about to respond out loud, don’t. I can hear what you’re thinking.”
“I hit my head or something,” I thought to myself.
”No, you didn’t,” said Mike’s voice. ”answer this guy and make him think you are the dumbest, most inept person to walk the earth.”
The man was moving to get up from his chair, but I stopped him.
“You’re right,” I said. “We went to the impact site.” He froze in his seat.
“Go on,” he said.
I could feel myself getting anxious, so I held up my hand for a pause. Not only did I need to calm down, but I also needed time to ask Mike what to say next, presuming it was really him speaking to me. I hadn’t even finished my thought before Mike’s voice answered.
”It’s really me, dude.
”Prove it,” I thought.
”You came down with the flu the night before your thirteenth birthday. I remember this because I was at the Boy Scout meeting when you found out you were sick. When you-
“When I shit myself!” I interrupted out loud.
“What?!” said the masked man. “You shit yourself, just now? You better not have!”
The whole night had already slowed my cognitive abilities. Between the rock, almost being launched into space, having to do meditation breathing to keep from relaunching, and then being kidnapped by unidentified military personnel, it had been a rough one. My friend speaking to me in my head didn’t help my critical thinking skills either.
“Did you just say you shit yourself?!” the man demanded.
I looked down at my feet, gravely, and nodded.
“Yes, sir. Well..., I mean, not just now, but earlier...” I said, looking back up. “I’d had the bubble guts all day. I’m not sure if some camp food didn’t agree with me, or if I didn’t purify my water enough, but I felt terrible. Well, my friends didn’t care about that and still insisted that we check out whatever the explosion was. So we found the spot where the thing hit, right? We make it to the site, and before we even have a chance to investigate anything cool, the thunder comes rumbling.”
The masked man leaned in and quietly asked. “The thunder?”
I shrugged. “Yeah. I had to, you know, poop...”
He shook his head in annoyance and leaned back in his chair as I continued.
“So there we are at this crater thing, I’m already nervous, my guts are bubbling like a hot cauldron, and then my buddy Mike tells me that stuff from outer space gives off radiation, like a lot of it. So then I’m worrying that if I drop trou right there and dump out, I’m going to get radiation poisoning or some form of butt cancer.”
Mike’s voice came out of nowhere. ”He thinks you’re a total idiot! Keep it up!”
The man held up his hands, motioning for me to stop, but I ignored him. “So instead of risking the radiation poisoning, I just let ’er rip.”
“Ok, I’ve heard plenty,” he said, getting up from his chair. “feel free to move about this room.” He pointed all around the room then sternly to the door. “If you try to walk out of here through that door, you will be shot. Understand?”
“Yes,” I said. “is there somewhere to take a leak?”
“Go in the corner,” he said, then walked out the door.
The instant the door shut, Mike began speaking to me again.
″That could not have gone better. You set the bar low, so he’s expecting the same from Ethan and me. I spoke-...err reached out to Ethan already, and as long as he doesn’t screw it up, we’re getting out of here.”
I concentrated on not responding out loud. ”These guys are government agents. I don’t think they’re letting us go.”
”That’s the thing,” said Mike. “They’re not with the government.”
I responded out loud. “What?!”
”They’re with a private military company. They somehow got a line on the meteorite, and the government missed it.”
”So wouldn’t it still be easier to kill us?” I thought.
”It would, but the CEO of this company remotely oversees all operations, and he has a history of leaving loose ends untied. All of his personnel think he’s far too soft, but he pays the best. The guy asking the questions earlier thought about how he was going to have to let us go and he was not happy about it.”
As it turns out, Mike had been right about everything. They tried to question each of us multiple times, but it was no problem with Mike able to read minds. They kept us for twenty-four hours, then let us go, and much to the man in charges chagrin, his boss forced him to give us a ride back to our car. They unceremoniously kicked us out, then peeled out on the gravel in front of us.
I calmly walked over to a small tree, sat next to it, and wrapped my arm around it. I seemed to have the whole flight thing under control at that point, but I was taking zero risks.
Mike waved and smiled as the masked man held his middle finger out of the window.
“That guy may be an asshole, but I think he hates you, Mike,” said Ethan. Mike continued waving as we watched the SUV, and the middle finger hanging out of the passenger side window disappear in a dust trail.
“That’s because once I figured out they weren’t going to kill us, I started messing with his head,” laughed Mike. “he thinks his wife is cheating on him, so I watered that seed for a bit. He actually thought about killing me for a second, so I laid off.” Mike then walked over to Ethan’s truck, pulled out a length of rope, tied one end around the truck’s trailer hitch, and then walked over to me with the other end.
“What now?” I asked, annoyed.
“I have a hypothesis,” said Mike.
“Not right now, bro. I just want to rest for a few minutes.”
“Just humor me, please.”
“Fine,” I said, standing up.
Mike spoke as he tied the other end of the rope around my waist. “So the meteorite gave you the ability to fly, right? And presumably, it gave me the power of telepathy.” He gave one test pull on both ends and then stood in front of me, placing his hands on my shoulders.
“Take as deep a breath in as you can,” he said calmly.
I did as he suggested and inhaled through my nostrils. Just as I reached the height of my breath, Mike lifted his hand in the air and slapped me across the face as hard as possible. SMACK!
The pain, the anger, the ringing in my ears all came at once. I was confused, stunned, and wouldn’t have remained upright if Mike didn’t help me keep balanced.
“WHAT THE HELL BRO?!” I shouted.
“Look!” he said. “You’re still on the ground!”
I looked down and saw that he was right. Despite the anger, my heart rate increasing, or whatever triggered my flight ability, I was still on the ground. I regained my senses after a few moments, but the slap’s pain lingered.
“You didn’t have to slap me that hard, dickhead,” I said, rubbing my cheek.
“Probably not,” said Mike. “but I wanted to make sure.”
“Is it gone, like for real gone?” I asked.
“Well, my telepathy abilities are gone, so I naturally assumed.” Mike shrugged. “The last thing I heard was Ethan thinking about how he couldn’t wait to get home and log on to his favorite paid por-...”
“You listened to my thoughts without telling me?!” Ethan interrupted from behind us.
I turned to look at him, but no one was there. I looked around and behind me, but there was nothing. “Ethan?” I said suspiciously.
“What?” said his voice from a few feet away. Mike turned to look as well.
“Where the hell are you? How are you doing that?” I asked.
“Doing what? I think you need to get some sleep.” said Ethan’s voice. I looked down at the spot where he had been and saw the gravel shifting around as though someone was still standing there, shuffling.
Mike pinched the bridge of his nose and squinted. “Oh, shit...” he said.
Stipulations of Invisibility
He stepped on a land mine.
It blew off his leg.
He came home to nothing.
Had no choice, but to beg.
When he asked for recompense,
they politely deferred.
Now he counts his coins
on a park bench, unheard.
She carried her child
through rapists, cartels.
How could she know
they’d be locked in separate cells?
No pleading, no request
could deter her crying.
Now they send her back
to a land of the dying.
He called the police
when he heard shots fired.
But on their arrival,
a judgement transpired.
Before he could speak,
he was brought to the ground.
Now their knee is on his neck.
No pulse to be found.
“The state of being ignored;
not taken into consideration.”
we agree to this...