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Category Archives: Shories

“Wrong”

I actually think it’s kind of a miracle that it took until high school for Lucy to start dating. I don’t know whether it was a self-confidence thing or if she actually genuinely felt a close connection to every guy she ever met, but she could never stop talking about them.

Most embarrassingly, though, she just would not shut up about Jasper.

“He is so cool,” she told me once before leaning in and whispering, “Do you think he might have had sex already? I mean, he is in high school.” We were in eighth grade.

I knew that he had—I am who I am—but I still lied and said I didn’t.

Then of course Ellen Portnoy happened. And my niece. Lucy managed to be devastated and fascinated at the same time. So full of every emotion, as always. And then of course Ellen dropped out of the picture so suddenly and Lucy didn’t know what to do with herself.

“You think about sex sometimes, don’t you?”

Thought about it? I didn’t have to. I knew exactly what it was going to feel like, be like, how it was going to taste and smell and sound, I’d had visions of it for years. I didn’t knew for sure who it was going to be with. (I assumed Angus—at least I did back when I was certain that he was my mysterious redhead.) But I mean, I knew what it would be. “I guess,” I fudged to Lucy, but then realized my mistake.

“I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I mean, I always have, but… it’s like more and more, it’s almost like it’s becoming real. You know?”

A few months after Jasper went off to work at the steel mill, I had a vision that made it a little too real for me, too. It was another one of my awkward my-family-are-having-sex visions, only this time, it wasn’t limited to family.

“Hey,” Lucy asked me not long after, “can I come over and study at your place this weekend?”

I knew what she was trying to do. She knew Jasper had weekends off, that he spent them around the house with his kid. She was triying to insinuate herself into—

“Would that be so bad?” Trevor asked. “I mean, I know he’s your brother and all, but like, why do you care so much?”

I cared because much as I liked hanging out with Lucy, the thought of her becoming my sister left me slightly queasy. Or, I don’t know, maybe I didn’t want my niece getting too attached only to—

“Come on! What is the problem?”

“I don’t want you dating my brother!” I finally blurted.

“Who said anything about dating your brother?”

“You have. For years. For years you’ve been talkign about letting him take your V-card—“

“Oh, honey, that ship has sailed.”

Some psychic I am. Assuming she was telling the truth.

“I just want things… separate,” I finally managed to confess. “It’s hard for me when it’s all… muddy.”

But there was no stopping them. I knew it. It had been in my visions.

“She’s sixteen,” I reasoned with Jasper.

“So? I’m nineteen, and in the state of North Carolina—“

“Don’t give me that bullshit! She is a child!”

“Maybe that’s what I need right now!”

“Are you listening to yourself?”

“Look… I don’t know what to tell you. She makes me happy. And I… I think I make her happy, too.”

Wouldn’t it be ironic, I found myself thinking, if Jasper and fucking Lucy McDermott were the ones to live happily ever after?

But I knew I was just being jealous.

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“Hey, Jude”

Kyle Niedermeyer went off to college when I got to seventh grade and by the time I was a junior, he came back as a teacher.

No one else could believe it. I mean, thsoe of us who had older siblings passed on the legend that was the Elk—to have one of their number in a position of authority? It was too much.

Except, of course, for me. Not only was I the only one not to gasp that first day when he revealed himself, I’d already brought along a nice shiny apple to give to him.

“Sucking up to the new teacher?” he asked me with a smile, careful to make sure everyone else was out of earshot.

“Do you remember me at all?” We’d only met once, which was enough for me, but his eyes narrowed. “Kassandra,” I helped him along. “My sister was in love with you?”

“Oh, shit,” he said, “Llywelyn?”

I don’t think of myself as much different through time. Physically, I suppose, with my hips and my breasts filling out, though very little in the face. It’s hard to really change when you know ahead of time pretty much exactly who you’ll be changing into, or so I still thought at the time.

“It’s great to have you back,” I said and he was gracious about the plattitude. “Does that mean you’ll be getting back together with Miss Kelly?”

There are only a handful of times when I’ve destroyed someone’s world with a revelation. I keep thinking I’ll cherish or even enjoy it, but the awkwardness makes that hard.

“I beg your pardon?” he asks.

“Don’t worry,” I tell him. “No one else knows. I’m kinda psychic?”

If I cared, I could prove that to him further, but there’s something more pressing. “Look, I know you’ve seen her wearing a ring, but she doesn’t love that guy. She still has feelings for you. And you still have feelings for her, which is why you came back. So you should… you know…” I looked down at my gift to him. “Give her an apple?”

He raised one eyebrow, then the other. As he reached for the apple, I bolted for the door.

There, I told my Psychicism. I did what you asked. What more do you want from me? What more could I possibly do? But there is always more to be done, isn’t there? Maybe I should just accept that.


“Heart-Shaped Glasses (When the Heart Guides the Hand)”

There are a number of hard-core revelations that people have once they get to college. Or so I have witnessed from my eagle-eyed view. Some of these revelations are carnal. The lack of “adult” supervision opens up a whole world of possibilities, not just sexually, but alcoholically, marihuanically, and even at the cafeteria. You would be amazed at the amount of pizza an 18-year-old boy can consume without actually exploding.

Then there are the academic revelations. You soon discover that everything you have ever been taught is wrong—or, at the very least, skewed—whcih can be very uncomfortable. It can leave you unmoored: if those weren’t the causes of the Civil War, what else have they been lying to you about? What other lies have they forced you to write in term papers and short answers on tests?

“Are you okay?” Declan asks her.

“I’m fine,” Raven lies. “I just don’t know if I like it here.”

It wasn’t the classes. “I really like that Astronomy Lab. I mean, like, I wish there was an actual lab with, like, telescopes, but I mean, I don’t know.”

“Not too much math?”

“I don’t mind the math, actually?”

“You wanna take more math?”

“I wanna take more music.”

They were both taking music theory. Together. It was fun.

“Theory isn’t enough, though.”

They were doing a musical in the drama department…

“I don’t wanna do that kind of music. Something is just… off. I don’t know.”

“How long have you been with that guy, Declan?” Her name was Natalie—Nattie for short—and she was dressed like a lesbian.

“Since sophomore year. In high school.”

“Is he the only guy you’ve uh…”

“No.”

“But you’ve been dating him this whole time?”

She shrugs. “Pretty much.”

“Do you love him?”

“Look, if you’re hitting on me, just please just come out and say it.”

Nattie looks shocked. “I wasn’t… I mean…”

“I know I come off as damaged and vulnerable, but Declan is a great guy. I’m trying. I’m happier with him than I… It’s not his fault that I’m fucked up. It’s thanks to him I’m not more fucked up right now, so just, please.”

“OK.”

She threw Declan up against the wall outside his dorm room, pinned him, hovered over him, breathing him in. “I don’t think I like college much,” she confessed.

“I think you do.”

“I like the classes. But why do we have to hang out with all these douchebags?”

“We don’t,” her boyfriend of three years promises her.

“You promise?” He does.

But that was never gonna last, was it?


“Basket Case”

Mickey hadn’t had the kinds of responsibilities Jasper had when high school ended. It wasn’t just that he hadn’t had enough sex, statistically, to accidentally knock a girl up (not that statistics really has anything to do with it), it was mainly that his parents were too understanding.

He lived above their garage. He had been living above their garage since he graduated high school. In fact, above his parents’ garage was where Mickey’s bedroom had always been, so really, when it came down to it, it was almost as though Micket was still in high school. Except without the homework.

He did have a job. He worked as a fry-cook. It was minimum wage and, unlike my brother, he didn’t get raises or promotions based on his performance. Add to that the fact that he got fired a couple of times, had to work somewhere else as a fry-cook—also, one place he worked got closed down for health-code violations. He wasn’t considered the most stable person.

He didn’t talk to many people, either. Really, there were only so many people he could talk to at his job, and most of them were assholes in his opinion, as he was in theirs.

His only real ambition was in videogames. He joined a lot of online forums, got off on heckling n00bs, busted some high scores. Mostly first-person shooters. Strategy games were for dweebs, he figured. RPGs were for pussies. Put a gun in his hand, and he’d—

Tommy had joined the army. Or no, was it the army? Maybe it was the navy. He knew it wasn’t the marines, Tommy was too jelly-limbed back in high school for that. And the airforce? He just wasn’t smart enough. Gotta be army, right?

Did that mean he had a real gun? Where had he been deployed? Where did he go to?

What was he doing with his life?

Mickey hadn’t really thought about the drums much since high school. That had been more Kyle’s thing. He’d been friends with Kyle for… gosh… And where was Kyle now? He’d gone off to college, too. Didn’t know where. Hadn’t talked to him much. Hadn’t talked to him… any, really.

Weird. He hadn’t even thought about them in so long.

He hadn’t even thought…


Chastity and Charm

Chastity Goodkind and her twin sister Charm could not have been more different. It wasn’t just their tastes in food and music, their political and religious views, it was their attitudes. Charm liked to think of herself as self-sufficient, the kind of strong young woman who didn’t need help, didn’t really even need companionship, particularly.

Chastity was different. Not only would she ask for help, but she knew how to coax it and the idea that she might be cheating or even sleeping her way into somethikng she didn’t “deserve” in the conventional sense, didn’t bother her.

The one thing they did have in common was their telekinetic ability, but that is beside the point.

“You’re such a slut,” Charm would scold her.

“Why? Because I know what I want and I know how to get it?”

“Because you’re taking the easy way, rather than earning it.”

“I earn things. I just earn them by being nice to the right people.”

“By sleeping with them.”

“I don’t sleep with anyone that I don’t want to sleep with, Charm. And if the people I sleep with want to do favors for me, they do me favors because they like me, not because I sleep with them.”

“Says you.”

“Says me, says everybody, says all of them.”

Chastity and Charm were both ambitious—or at least, each thought of herself as ambitious. Chastity looked at her boring sister and saw someone self-centered who wanted to take all the credit for her own achievements, but wouldn’t ever actually achieve anything because she didn’t have any friends.

Charm, of course, looked at her party-girl of a sister and thought she cared only about material concerns, about pleasure, the great carnla delight. What she didn’t understand about Chastity’s strategy was that while she might fall so far behind her sister she could never catch up intellectually, she was making great strides, grand leaps, as a social butterfly.

“Please,” Chastity would beg for Charm’s notes, “If you help me study, I promise to bring you to that party at Gretchen’s—“

“I don’t want to go to any party—“

“Oh, so you just want to stay in here with your books—“

“I like my books.”

“Are your books gonna land you a job? There’s gonna be people there, Charmy, real people, see, that’s the problem with books, sure they can give you knowledge or whatever, they can give you comfort. But when it comes right down to it, books aren’t real.”

Even the few times Charm did come along to one of her sister’s affairs, she was bored out of her mind. One time, she sat herself next to a fountain just looking at it for hours on end. When a boy did approach her and hit on her, even though he was kind of nice, she brushed him off.

“You didn’t have to be rude to him,” Chastity scolded.

“I wasn’t interested,” said Charm, “and I didn’t want him thinking that I was.”

“Did you ever think about how the way you act affects me and how people see me? I’m trying to build something here and I know you don’t understand that—“

“Oh, I understand perfectly,” Charm said, not knowing it was a lie. “Then could you at least not undermine me?”

That was the last party Chastity dragged her sister to. Charm still helped Chastity with some of her more outlandish assignments, but considered it less of a favor to the less fortunate and more an opportunity to hone her teaching skills. Charm went into academia. She would have liked to have done something “real”, she told herself, but peopel didn’t interest her, and while some skill at teaching was required to stay at a university, she did not consider students as “people in the traditional sense. They did not require social interaction.

Chastity, meanwhile, went into business, soaring as an assistant and as a young junior executive, but as the assignments she was given became more and more complex, she found herself bluffing.

“Think you can handle that?” her boss would ask, tendering her a stack of papers, and she would beam at him: “Sure thing, boss!”

But then she would fall behind.

“Can I talk to you?” Charm Goodkind’s Dean said after knocking on her office door. “I just wanted to see if you were doing all right. I noticed you haven’t been coming to faculty fucntions—“

“Did I miss a meeting?”

“I’m not talking about committees, I’m talking about the party last week.”

“I’m not good at parties,” Charm explained. But it wasn’t enough. They wanted her more involved, not just active on campus as a place of work, but as a community.

“We like you,” explained the Dean, “or we want to like you. But you’ve got to give us some way to do that.”

Finally, drowning in facts and figures she just couldn’t quite wrap her head around, Chastity once more went to her sister for help.

“I see,” said Charm, “because getting other people to do the work for you is how you operate—“

“And you’re not able to work with other people at all!”

It was true. She knew it was true. “Come on,” Chastity coaxed. “You gonna tell me that shit still flies here?”

But she knew that it didn’t.

After that meeting, Chastity never had trouble turnign in her reports on time, and not only did the Dean stop having complaints, the faculty were amazed at the transformation Professor Goodkind underwent once she was out of the classroom.

Another colleague, an expressly male colleague, cornered her outside her office one Monday. “I just wanted to say,” he said, fidgeting, “what a great time I had with you at the party—“

“Oh, thank you.”

“I was just wondering if you’d like to grab coffee sometime.”

“Oh, sorry, I don’t drink coffee—“

“Hot chocolate, then?” He softened. She softened. “You know I don’t mean literal coffee—“

“No, I know, it’s just… the person that I was… at the party… that’s not really…”

But she was starting to get it. It was finally getting through to her what her dumb sister had been trying to say.

“All right,” she said. “I would like that.”

If only to hone her social skill set.


Romeo and Juliet Reunited

JULIET: Oh Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou come? Whither hast thou taken me? Were we not dead, before?

ROMEO: I had thought we were. I thought you dead—

JULIET: I thought you banishèd—

ROMEO: Banished were as good as dead, to be parted from your side—

JULIET: Nay, say not so.

ROMEO: That is quite enough said, methinks. Indeed, we cannot say too little in this paradise.

JULIET: Yet how can this paradise be? Romeo, my husband, you took poison—

ROMEO: And you did die of a broken heart.

JULIET: No, I didn’t. Romeo… Friar Lawrence ought to have sent out a letter.

ROMEO: What letter?

JULIET: I was to be married to Paris.

ROMEO: That villain. I slew him, too.

JULIET: Slew Paris?

ROMEO: Ay, he was a rogue and arrant knave and a fool to boot.

JULIET: Why?

ROMEO: He was guarding your tomb.

JULIET: They knew that you would come back. Romeo, I drank no poison. The draught Friar Lawrence brought me was a sleeping cure that forged death before tempering it with dreamless sleep. Yet perhaps I did dream. Perhaps we’re dreaming still.

ROMEO: It matters little now, my Juliet, my wife. Whatever place this is, do you detect the torment of our houses’ war? Do you hear your mother’s painful drone, your father’s tirades, or my father’s woes?

JULIET: I do not. And yet methinks I saw Tybalt here.

ROMEO: The prince of cats.

JULIET: My cousin, husband, and yours.

ROMEO: I came with nothing but love and yet he killed my friend. My friend and the prince’s cousin. And therefore am I banished.

JULIET: Didst not slay him?

ROMEO: He killed Mercutio.

JULIET: Didst not kill thyself?

ROMEO: You were dead. How was I to go on?

JULIET: I, too, killed myself for thee. You left me no poison, yet you left me with a bare bodkin to make my quietus. The untrod depths of hell, I suppose, held no more terror for me than the world I live in. A world where my husband could die after killing my cousin. A world so unjust, where my own father would force me to marry a man I did not love because the man I did… And what of this world? Is this world as cruel? I saw a fool over yonder who spoke of an English King and his tragedy. I’ve seen Romans and Greeks. Oh, Romeo. My sweet, sweet, Romeo…

ROMEO: Perhaps we’ve made it after all, our stars un-cross’d, our lives uninterrupted by the spectre of—

JULIET: Don’t speak. Oh, my Romeo. Methinks there’s yet more to this mystery.


“Harder Better Faster Stronger”

Being a rockstar doesn’t exactly pay the bills. I mean, really, what does these days, right? Or if it does pay the bills, it pays all of them at once. But that’s a pipe dream and Jasper Llywelyn had given up smoking.

He had a daughter now, I had a niece. He had to take care of her. Mom had a new baby of her own on the way by the time they left high school. She could only help so much, and especially after Jasper made the (ironically) educated decision not to go to college, to go to work instead, the pressure was on him from all sides to actually get a job, to get a trade, some certification that could turn skills into money, or at least skills that could turn said certification into a solid credit report.

When he finally found something, he wouldn’t tell us what it was, exactly. I knew it wasn’t anything sketchy (at least not in the legal sense), some kind of steel mill forty miles out of town. Nine to five, he woke up at seven and didn’t get back till after six, holding up dinner. Two hours a day, if that, barely, with his kid, to make ends meet, no wonder fathers are so cold. They never get the warmth of family.

Do I remember how much time our father spent with me?

Do I even remember who he was, by now?

It was some kind of steel mill. Heavy machinery, lots of moving parts, factory work, too fast in my visions for my eyes to track, and he never talked about it. Sometimes I would catch him using terms, we’d be talking about something unrelated, he’d draw a parallel. But then he’d realize and he’d shut down. “No, go on,” we’d say.

“Nah,” he said, “I don’t even wanna think about that.”

Because of course, he was miserable. If he’d still had a wife, if Ellen hadn’t died in childbirth, maybe things would have been different. Someone to come home to who wasn’t related. Someone to help blow off steam. I’d like to thnk she’d have been more to him, I’m just not sure what. He still had so much driving him. So much passion. So much obsession.

Every day, he’d have two hours in the car to listen to music. Other people’s music. He’d whack the steering wheel in time to the beat, sing along, even change it up a bit like was singing a cover, make it more interesting to himself.

He never talked about anybody that he worked with. Made me wonder if he talked to anyone. My brother, the chatterbox. What did he do? Was he really that miserable?

After a few months, he got a raise. A little while after that, it was some kind of promotion.

“Sweetie, why didn’t you tell me?” But I already knew ‘cause of how he looked. He looked worse. He looked more depressed. Any praise he got, any form of recognition, only drew him further into that world and it was a world he didn’t want to be in, a world that wasn’t him. 

But his world didn’t want him. There was no room for him there. So he made his bed every morning and his little girl got up and played on it.