Short Story · Uncategorized

Einstein and the Theory of Slurpees

It’s not easy being here. It takes time to adjust.

At first it was pretty cool. I loved zipping around, flying from place to place. After all, I had no body anymore, so there was that.

When I first arrived, everyone was there to greet me, kind of like a big high school reunion, but without the anxiety or bad ’80s music. It was great seeing my family and friends. But, holy shit! There were just so many of them! I was told I had already lived 52 lives back down on Earth. Fifty-two! You’d think with all that knowledge, some of it would have sunk in with my last life, but no. If only I had backed away from the bridge after the guy hitched me onto the bungee cord, I’d still be down there right now, eating Doritos and watching Roseanne reruns.

But I wasn’t. So I made do.

The first thing I noticed about the other side– it’s not ‘over there’ or ‘up there’. It’s right here. Right where you still exist. We are all milling around just a few frequencies above the living. Not far at all. Sometimes one of you might catch a glimpse of us if the dimensions accidentally leak into one another. But we’re not up on some cloud playing harps with the angels. (The angels have more important things to do, trust me.) We have buildings. We have mountains and lakes. But no Walmarts or McDonalds. It’s just like Earth.

Only infinitely better.

So after I crossed over, my next stop was the Past Lives Viewing Theater. A few of my friends dragged me there that first day. I say ‘day’ but really, time doesn’t exist over here. I won’t go into specifics, but let’s just say even Einstein’s mind was blown after he crossed over.

After I arrived at the theater, I was led by a man dressed in white down a long white hall to a large white room with a white chair. One thing you’ll notice after you get here, everything seems to be bathed in white. A glowing, almost blinding white. “How do you not bump into anything?” I asked my friends and they all laughed.

I sat down to face this gigantic silver screen, better than any HDTV at Best Buy. You’re probably familiar with surround sound? Well, this sucker had the fourth dimension built in. Not only could I see any of my past lives in full technicolor, but I could interact with any moment in any of those lives firsthand, like I was reliving it with all my senses intact.

Next time you do something really stupid or embarrassing, just remember this–it’s being recorded.

Makes you think twice about dancing naked while singing songs from Glee into your hairbrush, huh.

Oh, and the refreshments were killer. I was only on the other side mere moments and already I started to miss food. I wanted a big bucket of popcorn with melted butter. Boom. It was there beside me. I wanted a jumbo-sized blue-raspberry Slurpee. Bam. It appeared out of nowhere.

“Don’t worry,” said the man in white. “There are no such things as calories here. Dig in.”

I was loving this place already.

A few things I discovered while at the movies: I was once a housewife living in a log cabin on the prairie with eleven children in the 1800s, I was once a chambermaid for a filthy rich English family in the late 1700s, and I was once eaten by a black bear in Siberia in the year 1502.

Explained my lifelong aversion to kids, bears and cleaning.

While the Viewing Theater was a riot, and a few mysteries were finally solved, I was already wondering what would happen next. I mean, what did people do up here all day long?

So I’m dead. Now what?

“I think it’s time you meet with the Light,” the man in white said.

“Huh? How did you read my thoughts?”

“Remember, that’s how we communicate up here. No need for spoken language.”

“So you know everything I’m thinking.”

“Yes.”

“Bummer.”

“It can be quite handy.”

“What am I thinking right now?”

“Doritos.”

“And now?”

“You’re singing that you like big butts and you can’t deny…can we proceed, please?”

“You are good.”

“I know.”

“So who’s this light person?”

The Light. The Being. God. Y’know….the god/goddess of Everything…?”

“Sure. I’m game. Is he expecting me?”

“There is no ‘he’. Or ‘she’. The Light is both she and he. Or neither.”

“Right. Just like today is not today, tomorrow or yesterday?”

“Exactly.”

“Okay, if you say so,” I downed another Slurpee, watched it disappear into the ether that used to be my stomach and laughed. Whoa–no brain freeze! Makes sense, I have no actual brain anymore. Chuckling to myself, I turned to float back down the hall. Which to me was ridiculous, as I probably could have zipped straight through the walls since they–like everything else here–seemed transparent and buzzing with a crackling energy. It was all too much. My head felt dizzy. Well, if I still had a head. Now my body was more like a murky ball of vapor with fuzzy outlines. For a second, I caught myself wondering where I would put my cell phone.

Getting used to being dead is a process.

“I’m ready,” I sighed. “Just one thing–does this shapeless, formless, swirling vapor cloud of energy make my butt look big?”

“Ha ha. Very funny.”

“Man! I am so relieved humor exists up here! And where is that music coming from? Is that John Lennon I hear singing?”

“Yes.  From time to time, you can hear him jamming with George Harrison down in the gardens.”

“I think I’m going to like it here.”

“You won’t be staying for long, I’m afraid.”

“Bummer.”

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reflections · Uncategorized

The Footsteps on the Stairs

Each night, the footsteps were the same; deliberate and heavy. The
sound would slice into my hazy dreams, and I’d drift helplessly back into the
world. My eyes would start to focus, gradually taking in the shadows lurking in my room.
In the corner, my dresser would morph into a dark shape of some menacing,
faceless monster, crouched and ready to pounce. A creeping,
gnawing feeling of being stripped bare, vulnerable and exposed, would begin to
crawl up my spine and seep into my thoughts. A shaft of pale
moonlight would stream through the gingham curtains of my
bedroom’s narrow windows, illuminating them like a pair of glowing pink eyes. Night after night, I would slowly pull my crocheted afghan up to my ears and wait to hear it again.

If my breathing was still enough, maybe I wouldn’t.

Thwick, thwick. Thwick, thwick. Thwick, Thwick.

I knew the sounds weren’t of this earth. Incredibly, the noises
seemed to be oozing and dripping with every step. Some nights, I imagined the
footsteps were of a slimy creature from the murky depths of the ocean. I was
convinced a giant menacing octopus was mucking across my grandmother’s pea green
kitchen linoleum and heading straight for my bedroom door. Yet as soon as I
would hear them, they would disappear again, melting into the symphony of the
crickets softly chirping outside my window.

But this night was different.

Thwick, thwick. Thwick, thwick, thwick, thwick–

The footsteps hesitated. The door to the basement, right
outside my bedroom, slowly opened, producing a
high-pitched screech that sent a lightning bolt of panic down my back. The warm
lump at the foot of my bed began to move. My dog raised her head, nose
twitching, as she cocked one ear toward the sound. Peeking through the delicate
holes in the afghan, I noticed the moonlight sparkling, tiny diamonds dancing in her brown eyes. I drew in a sharp breath then slowly let it back out, producing a feeling of
comforting warmth inside my little cocoon.

Suddenly, she heaved herself off my canopy bed and landed on the
pink rug below, sending herself sliding across the hardwood floor. She
scrambled back up, her nails clicking on the wood, and leaped toward the
bedroom door. Her tail wagged furiously as she looked up at the ceiling, ready
to greet this nightly visitor. Or thing.

The squishy steps resumed and I held my breath as I heard them going
down into the basement, each stair creaking under their weight. I threw off the
covers and glanced at the clock by my bed. 2:30 the bright red display flashed,
taunting me. The terror of a possible burglar in our home seized my racing
mind as the back of my neck turned to ice. I jumped out of my bed and stood frozen in the bone white moonlight.

The crickets were silent. My dog began to whine at the ceiling.

“Shh!” I hissed through clenched teeth. I tiptoed barefoot toward the
door and peered through the crack.

The kitchen was empty. I held my breath as I took one step onto the cold linoleum. In response, the footsteps on the stairs abruptly stopped, leaving me to listen to the refrigerator’s low hum. The light above the stove flickered. My dog
was now at the top of the basement steps, tail wagging in slow circles as she
peered down into the darkness. She gently barked and the tags on her collar jingled,
startling me out of my reverie.

I knew I had to look.

I rested my shaking hand on my dog’s head. “What’s down
there, girl?” I whispered.

The dusty basement steps didn’t answer.

Closing my eyes, I reached into the shadows to find the light switch. With a loud click,
I heard the faint crackle and buzz of the bare light bulb hanging at the foot
of the stairs.  Electricity surged through every cell of my body. The hair on my neck prickled as my eyes adjusted to the bright yellow light.  I crept halfway down the steps, scanning the dirty cement floor. The walls were thick with shadows and cobwebs. The washer and dryer sat silently in the corner, dirty laundry still waiting in a pile in the basket. My dog sat down at the foot of the steps, looked up at the ceiling and whimpered.

The next morning, I sat at the kitchen table, bleary-eyed from
the night before. My mother placed a carton of orange juice in front of me and
turned back to the pancakes browning on the stove.

“Hey, did you leave the basement light on last night?”
she asked over her shoulder, stacking the pancakes onto a plate.

“Yeah, sorry,” I mumbled. I gulped some orange
juice and looked down at my dog, curled up at my feet. She raised her head and
seemed to look right through me with her liquid brown eyes. I nervously twirled
my hair around my fingers.

“Mom?”

“Yeah?”

“Can I ask you something? And promise me you won’t think I’m
crazy.”

“Well, I’ll try,” she laughed. “What’s up?”
she asked, sitting down across from me.

“Is this house haunted? I mean, have you ever heard a ghost
here? Or sounds?”

“Why do you ask?” My mother’s eyebrows arched and she sipped
her coffee.

“I heard something. Well, every night I hear something.
Footsteps–going downstairs into the basement. And they sound, oh I don’t
know…they sound almost squishy or wet. I know, I know.  It’s crazy.” I sighed and picked at the pancakes in front of me.

“Oh!” My mother laughed. “That’s just your
grandfather,” she said and waved her hand at me. He’s probably just come
back from fishing. I hear him sometimes, too.”

My grandfather grew up loving the great outdoors. He often spent
his time hunting and fishing, never passing up a chance to go camping. When my
mother was a little girl, she remembers her dad happily coming home after another
weekend fishing trip up in the dense forest of northern Maine. He’d stroll into
the kitchen with his catch, kiss my grandmother on the cheek and hand the fish
over to be cleaned for that night’s supper. Then he’d walk down into the
basement in his muddy hunting boots to put away his fishing gear and tackle box. For
my mom, these were some of her warmest memories of her father.

He died at the age of 53, long before I was born.

The following night after the conversation at breakfast, I heard the familiar steps again. I smiled and looked up at the ceiling. “Hi, Grandpa. I can hear you, you know,” I whispered.
“Did you catch some fish again?” I added, giggling, unsure of why I
was talking to the air. Almost expecting an answer, I listened, holding my
breath.

The footsteps stopped.  The crickets’ chirping grew louder, and I knew the night would hold onto the secrets of this world a little longer. The soothing glow of the pale moonlight enveloped me once again as I stroked my dog’s silky ears and sighed. Looking into her eyes, I felt she knew these secrets well.

I never heard the footsteps again.

__________________________________________

 

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Happy Halloween to all of my blogging friends and readers!

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