Handsome

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The cardboard box in Marie’s front seat jingled as the car came to a halt. It had recently been filled with her personal items from a cramped desk after she was emailed a layoff notice. She sighed as she yanked her purse from beneath it and left the car.

Woody’s was her normal haunt on the weekends, a means of celebrating her often short-lived weekends with her friends. During the week, like this particular Wednesday, the place resembled a ghost town.
“Whiskey, please. Make it a double,” she said, perching on one of the lesser worn stools at the end of the bar. The bartender, one of the weekday workers, poured the drink swiftly and slid it in front of her. Marie downed the drink in one gulp.
“Another one, please.”
“Looks like you had the same kind of day I had,” said the man several seats away.

She hadn’t noticed him, at first. She’d been too preoccupied with her drink choice before deciding it didn’t matter; it wasn’t as if she had to work in the morning. Now, looking at him, he was far more attractive than his surroundings. “Well, I just lost a really cushy job. Of course, they wanted me to finish the day first,” she said, taking a sip from the fresh glass in front of her.
“I guess we both learned how little we matter today,” he said. His words stung a little deeper than she expected.
“I’m sorry. My girlfriend…she left me today,” he said, shaking his head before sipping the clear drink in front of him.
“Her loss,” Marie said, raising her glass and taking a sip as well. The man wiped his hand on his jeans before extending it to Marie, leaning across the seats between them.
“Jefferson,” he said with a grin.
“Marie.” Continue reading

Conversation

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Lindsey couldn’t remember the pain. The images had been there- the blood, the soundless screaming, the deafening sound of her heart in her ears- but the pain was missing. It all seemed pointless without it.

“Are you ready?” asked a voice from behind her. She wasn’t startled, but curious to see who joined her in the void.

“For what?”

“Whatever is next,” she said, appearing suddenly. Something inside of Lindsey knew she wasn’t quite human. Her movements were too fluid, her features were too perfect. Lindsey recognized it as her own form, without the clumsy gait. Even her wild, curly hair seemed perfectly coiffed, something it never did in reality.

“Are you God?” She laughed, a chorus of bells instead of Lindsey’s awkward guffaws.

“I’ve always hated that moniker.”

“What would you like me to call you?”

“I don’t think anyone’s ever asked me that. But then again, Lindsey, you’ve always been special,” she said. The smile was meant to be reassuring.

“Is my mom here?”

“Yes.”

“Can I see her?”

“No.”

“Why?”

The faux Lindsey made a face as she thought of an answer. Lindsey was never one to be coddled and the answer would need to be concise to satisfy her.

“She’s moved past her humanity. Same as you, same as everyone who comes here.”

“So she doesn’t remember me?”

The deity wasn’t used to the emotional pushback. It had been designed that way to prevent arrest in the process. Lindsey recognized the pause, but it failed to deter her.

“Is this heaven?”

“Heaven is a myth.”

“So where are we?”

“Technically? Just outside your Milky Way galaxy.”

“So we just float here forever?”

“I forget which of you said ‘Energy cannot be created or destroyed’ but he hit it on the head. Think of your soul as energy, powering your flesh. When the flesh is destroyed, that energy become the energy that powers the universe. A part of the whole. Your humanity will fall away, the memories, the happiness, the struggles, the disdain, all become obsolete. There is no more individual and you will be…content.”

Lindsey didn’t expect her mind to still be running a mile a minute. The blissful feelings were there, surrounded by shrouds of human worry. “No, it is not a trick.”

“I hated you. For so long.”

“I know.”

“You have no idea what it was like. Living with a broken heart,” Lindsey said, the hot tears falling from her face.

“The pain ends,” the doppelgänger said, giving Lindsey a small smile and extending her hand. Lindsey chuckled deep before wiping her face.

“God, I hope so.”

Photograph

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“I wanna meet this girl who’s been occupying all my baby’s time,” Ricky’s mother, Phyllis, said. Before her son could reply, the waiter returned and deposited their brunch in front of them.

“Things are still new. I don’t wanna chase her away,” Ricky laughed before scooping potatoes into his mouth.

“Tell me all about her.”

“She’s wonderful, really. Smart, funny, gorgeous. She keeps me in check.”

“I love her already.” Time with his mother was precious to Ricky, since he’d so nearly lost her at the beginning of the year. The one thing she wanted was to know her son would be taken care of. He hadn’t told his mother, but he’d already begun falling in love with Alex.

“You should bring her to the barbecue this weekend. I promise, no grilling,” Phyllis said, mimicking the Boy Scouts pledge.

“I’m going to see her tonight so I’ll bring it up. No promises,” Ricky said. He was excited that his mother was excited about his new relationship, especially since she had been so negative about the girls he liked.

“Just promise me you’ll try and make this work. Treat her with all the respect and dignity you show me,” Phyllis said, taking her son’s hand. Ricky smiled and nodded, giving his mother a squeeze back.

“I promise.” Continue reading

DSW

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It was inevitable that I’d sell my body for money. Most of the girls I graduated high school with went on to procure dance cards to gyrate under hot lights the day after our matriculation. It was just the environment we’d become products of: most of our mothers were slaves to their vices, leaving us defenseless in homes throughout the county. One way or another, a man would make us victims, by force or voice. Continue reading