Her name was Aika and Christian had been obsessed with her the moment she transferred to Willowbrook High. In the first week, he managed to hear every hint and rumour there was to know: her second name was Hisama, people were sure she’d moved straight from Japan, and she hadn’t spoken a word to anyone. In the beginning, students thought maybe Aika wasn’t great with English, but those looking to cheat in class saw she wrote fluently. In fact, she appeared to be some form of prodigy, always having the correct answers. During lunch hours Aika spent her time in the library with her head ducked down over a Japanese language novel, and she made a point of being in the classroom before anybody else. Her physical appearance only served to magnify these oddities; her skin was pale, and her long hair hung down to her waist. Kids took to calling her Samara like the girl from that creepy horror film, The Ring. Except never to her face. Strangely, in a school notorious for its bullies, Aika maintained a wall around herself.
He looked out into the grounds and couldn’t understand the blackness. He thought that it was dead leaves. There had been a storm throughout the night which had unsettled. The dreams had frightened. He became anxious again as he tried to recall. They teased him, they were there hovering near to the edge of his consciousness, without form…disturbing. The Priest gave up and went into his bathroom to shave. The tremor in his hand changed his mind. He rinsed his face and tried to pray, the familiar words, spoken every morning since he entered the Diocese sixty years back were alien to him. They choked him and he felt a tear run down his cheek. It occurred to the old man that maybe he was having a stroke.
“Dear Lord Jesus – please take care of my mom. Please welcome my papa into heaven, Lord. He was a good man and you’ll see that when you talk to him. Everyone knows it. My mom’s good, too, so please watch over her. She says she doesn’t believe in you – but I do – and I know that she does in her heart. She knows how much you love all of your children and I don’t want to die. I don’t, I don’t, I don’t.”
The fight starts in the kitchen between a couple of chefs, which means it could be about any number of things (drugs, booze, girls, hours, pay), but because Terry and Sean are a pair of obnoxious, stupid assholes, it’s about some soup. Terry thinks the bisque could use some paprika, but Sean fucking hates paprika.
That’s it. That’s all it takes to set them off.
It was after the toilet scrubber was delivered that she saw them. It was dark, save for the security lights, and Paula rarely went out at night to collect her online shopping deliveries. But she’d been trying to find space for the cat tree, the Christmas ornaments, the sea salt, and the egg beaters. And the attempted organization of her innumerable Internet purchases had left her so exhausted that she’d simply collapsed and fallen asleep for hours. She’d considered waiting until the next day to open the front door and grab the package, but she’d seen a TV special on no-gooders who stole deliveries right from doorsteps, and she did not want to risk that the scrubber wouldn’t be there in the morning.
She cries a lot because her teeth are gone. I hold her, though I am furious she is so diseased. I imagine one day she’ll be pretty like before. Maybe she’ll let me make her all over again.
“You expect me to speak to the Archbishop? Your ideas are somewhat radical Father. For you to get on in your career you need to know how to play the game.”
“Radical? I don’t see it that way Your Grace. I think we could do a lot of good. We would build bridges. We could now bring together two sides once and for all. We need to do this, not just with our religions but with them all! But we can start with what we know.”
There was water boiling over the pot on the stove the night my niece died. She told me she was craving wheat noodles, so I stopped everything I was doing to satisfy her. I heard the water sizzling as it leaked over the scalding edges of the pot, and immediately ran to turn off the flames. “I’m hungry!” she kept yelling. “Please tell me you did not ruin dinner!” “I’m sorry little love.” I chanted as I rushed the noodles to the sink. I let cold water run over them, but it was too late. The noodles had burnt up and were sticking to the steel. I could see the shadow of her bowing in the doorway, her tiny body shuddering with hysterical sobs. I scratched out the charred noodles and handed them to her. “Wipe your tears.” I whispered. I was crying too. She grabbed my leg and cuddled it when she noticed. I leaned against the wall like a ghost watching his loved ones play on without him, expression doleful and hateful at once. I knew she was drying when I felt her grip loosen around my limb. “It’s okay dear. Go ahead, die. I cannot take care of you the way death can.” Her body dropped from me, carefully sprawling across the floor. I stared at her, face white with grief, eyes bulging as if I despised her, and kneeling at her side, I lifted her over my shoulder and carried her upstairs.
Concealed just beneath Pier 63 on the Seattle waterfront, Rob and Lonnie await in the open 16 foot aluminum boat. Between them face down on the boat’s floor is the mock bride, a mannequin wearing a white wedding dress slowly absorbing the moisture of the inch and half puddle it lies in. Lonnie looks at the mock bride, the veil and the blond wig fluttering in a cool breeze. A bouquet of spring flowers, freesias, peonies and daisies, is duct taped to her rigid right hand, the best they could do to make the flowers appear they are being held. She wears a pair of scuffed white leather pumps. Within the fiberglass body of the bride is a six -gallon polypropylene bladder full of Trader Joe’s brand tequila mixed with red dye and corn syrup, based on a recipe Lonnie used twenty-five years earlier for the blood needed for a community theatre production of Sweeny Todd. Three leftover bottles of tequila lie in the puddle beside the bride. Beneath the tequila-filled bladder, in the mannequin’s lower torso is a jumbled pile of twenty-one and a half pounds of turkey kielbasa, also bought at Trader Joe’s, a decent enough imitation of entrails for the Wedding.
The room had always been dark. She noticed it the first day that they moved in. Looking back on it, John had been ill from day one. He felt heavy, as if the flu was working on him. The darkness was unsettling. The other two bedrooms faced the same direction and they were filled with sunlight. Not that room. John became sicker. The heaviness was always there and he said that it felt more and more intense. The doctor found nothing.