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.
“You could eat off her floor,” Miriam often said in a half envious way, if Dora was present, and in a half mocking way when she was not. “I drove her home that day when her car wouldn’t start and honest to God, you’d think that floor had never been stepped on. I mean, it was like a mirror it was so shiny!” But what Miriam and her coworkers did not know was that Dora actually did eat off her floor.
People are acting like this is a party. All dressed up like it’s Mardi Gras, in their kookiest outfits. The people who have home DNA splicing kits have been playing around, giving themselves leopard-print skin, rhinoceros horns sprouting from unexpected places, or chameleon eyes that dart off in different directions – one looking right at ya, one directed hopefully to the sky, waiting to catch the first glimpse of the aliens arriving. It’s pretty unconventional for a little outback town like Tanloch, but it’s like everyone wants to be more than just human, now that extra-terrestrials are arriving. Some are holding up signs, saying things like “Please Save Our Whales”, “ET take us home!” and “I, for one, welcome our new alien overlords.”
You can rent Van Gogh’s bedroom on Air BnB for ten dollars a night. We were on the final leg of our cross-country expedition when we ran into Chicago and out of money. When we left Venice West we were intertwined in one-another firmer than the Treaty Oak’s roots, somewhere around Lincoln Nebraska we suffered our own poisoning. By the windy city it was more than just a cold shoulder. We checked our pockets. Seventy-two dollars in change and we still needed to get to New York where our flights home were waiting on us.
Richard looked at his half-grown mustache, and couldn’t decide whether to shave or not. He was about fifty with receding brown hair, and a John Doe face, and brown eyes. He wore khaki pants, white shirts, and canvas shoes, and lived in a small apartment over the hardware store. He was married to Martha up until about a year ago when he came across Robert and Martha, and Robert’s pants were around his ankles. Martha felt bad she hurt him, but Robert gave her pleasure the way Richard couldn’t. Richard saw how Robert had a mustache which gave him the idea. It took him almost a year to talk himself into it. He had a job at the liquor store which had been for quite awhile now. He went to work, and opened cases of vodka and gin, and put them on the shelf. Monday was his hardest day, you know, because of the weekend. After he lost his marriage, his liquor store job kept him going. There were two things he didn’t like about Robert, the first being that he had sex with his wife, and the second was he drank whisky. That meant he had to see Robert when he came in to buy his Jack Daniels. It was all right if he was behind the shelves, and could ignore Robert, but when he was on the register, they had to pretend to be friendly which drove him nuts. The last time Robert came to Richard’s register as he picked up his bag; he pointed to Richard’s mustache, and said,
“Hey, another year or so; you might have something.”
Richard gave a wicked fake laugh. He glanced out the window and saw Martha waiting in the car.
Olivia and her boyfriend broke up on a Sunday morning. It wasn’t a surprise, really. Olivia had offered her boyfriend an amicable break up twice before by yelling, “Do you just want to split up?” two times. Although he had asked to stay together then, he had behaved otherwise by disappearing for hours and returning drunk without any explanation. As a last attempt at repair, Olivia had called his parents for help. His father had assured her that he would force his “idiot son” to propose if he only could.
Our house has no windows. On winter mornings, I leave in downpours and darkness at six, then return in the brooding grey of twilight. Sometimes your car is here and sometimes it’s not. On the evenings when you’re around we eat supper in silence, chewing food without flavour. I’m never hungry any more, either. We scrape more food into the dustbin than either of us eat. You take to the sofa behind the barrier of your phone, tapping out messages to whoever. I take the armchair and read books I’ve read before.