Sheila shucks corn in her shack, stewing over a schnauzer that chewed up her Scottish scarf. Feeling skittish, she chucks the last husk into the bucket and goes outside to tend to her Shetland pony. After brushing down her sheltie, she heads to Sean’s Shed, where she’s taken a shine for the shopkeeper. She wants to invite Sean to lunch. As she faces him, she’s overcome with shyness. Shrugging off the shudder in her shoulders, succeeding only in worsening the shaking of her voice, she bleats, “Would you like some sheep butt? Wait . . . what? I . . . sheesh . . . I mean shish kebab?”
Naked and trembling, Trevor stops to catch his breath. Already he feels the curse cast upon him. The tattoos on his stiffening torso become more pronounced, resembling wall-sized etchings.
His arms shoot upward, branching outward, simultaneously dividing into limbs of various density. Immobile, his legs fuse together, while his feet extend out all around him. His toes multiply, scattering and digging deep below the earth at the same time.
Moisture penetrates throughout his whole being, or whatever self-awareness is left. The last thought as he can describe it as such is that he wishes, out of all the tattoos he has, he had avoided the heart with Her name carved on it. He didn’t know she would take it to heart and act as if she owned him.
Or I’ll get cross.
Take care not to cross me;
Close your eyes and cross your fingers;
He: “I’m nuts about you.”
She: “You’re too nutty for me.”
He: “I got you nut ‘n honey cookies.”
She: “I got you nuttin’.”
He: “Want to watch The Nutcracker with me?”
She: “No, I’d like to crack your nuts.”
He: “You’re not so nice.”
She: “You’re nutso. Untie me!”
Baby Toula is an ugly baby even her own mother can’t kiss, although she claims to love her, only because she came from her womb. That’s a womb its owner, Mama Lydia, did not know had become a receptacle to a hodgepodge of chemicals, such as synthetic fragrances she’s inhaled and the artificially preserved lotions her skin’s absorbed from the time she was a little girl to the mature fruit bearer she has now become.
As with any unsuspecting person, Lydia paid no heed to what her body was accumulating over time. How did she know the sweet, cloying Vanilla Ice cologne contained something that was also the lethal ingredient in a bug spray? Or a window cleaner? She isn’t one to question things like that. To her 20-something life, it’s more about fun stuff–like tasting those delicious bon bons that come in unnaturally vivid colors. She simply thought that if others bought them, they must be fine. The companies that churn them out are household names, so they can be trusted. Their packaging says they are mostly natural and good for you.
Now, she rocks on her chair looking at her baby from across the room, because Toula repulses her. She has pustules on a face that should be smooth-cheeked. And what should be shiny, baby fine hair is more like a patch of raised bumps. Where her lidded bright eyes would have been are unblinking dots filled in with odd-shaped cells. How she welcomes a loud cry. Instead, there’s only occasional bursts of heaves that raise her hackles.
Lydia thinks Toula is an unfortunate seed, though not a bad seed like her older sister Lizzie, who grew up to butcher their parents. Lydia will have to make sure Toula doesn’t have access to any axes.
Tricia and Don used to roam naked in their house so they could make love wherever and whenever. Once they raided the kitchen and painted each other with peanut butter and jelly. It made for a body-lickin’ good lunch. They followed it with a race to the tub for a memory-lasting scrubby-dub-dub. Rapturous times.
A few years went by. They got up, took off their pajamas, showered, dressed, and went about their business. A new routine. Their marriage counselor assured them, “You’re just going through the zombie stage. This too shall pass. ”
Fancy meeting you,
Free fall like a waterfall;
No ties, just one night.
Between love and lust
Like drifting on the ocean
He’s lost without her.