Saturday, April 2, 2011


"Mrs. Stebbins, things are not looking very good for you at the moment, I'm afraid to say," Principal Broderick stared at a thin file folder with displeasure from behind his pristine oak desk. Across the dark wood sat a woman with little regard for the words spewing from his mouth.

With a big, fat finger, Principal Broderick pushed a lone piece of paper across the polished wood surface, wicked anticipation marring his otherwise appealing face. Mrs. Stebbins was looking at her watch, not noticing Principal Broderick's face flush a bright red. He cleared his throat wetly, startling her from her inner thoughts and she finally looked in his direction with tired eyes.

"I really don't see what the issue is. Besides having some of the highest scores in the building-"

"Yes. We're reviewing those," he smirked unpleasantly. "We're more worried about this."

Unable to reach the paper, Principal Broderick pointed boldly at the sheet in front of her. The nine precisely printed calendar cubes were flecked with red X's, synonymous with missed days of work. At his calculation, Mrs. Stebbins had been absent one to two days a week for the last school year.

"Sir," Mrs. Stebbins conceded and bobbed her head in deference. "I can explain."
Principal Broderick's eyes glazed over with sadistic joy and Mrs. Stebbins was suddenly dreadfully fearful.

"I think it's a little too late for that, Mrs. Stebbins," he clasped his fingers together and leaned back into his red leather chair. "You'll finish out the school year, of course, and then we'll talk about a suitable severence-"

Mrs. Stebbins stood to her less than impressive five feet and glowered pure hatred at the man before her, knocking the chair to the ground in the process and successfully cutting him off. Her eyes shone and her teeth clenched, but she refused to speak rashly. Principal Broderick's smirk continued to grow and instead of screaming with all her might, Mrs. Stebbins bit down hard on her lower lip and stormed from the obnoxiously long room.

Principal Broderick's less than intelligent secretary jumped when the office door slammed open and ducked her head to discreetly watch Mrs. Stebbins march past. Tentatively, she quietly queried,

"Should I alert the substitute about your return?"

Mrs. Stebbins paused her dash across the front office, fists clenching and unclenching at her sides.

"I'm going home," she spit out as politely as possibly before dashing from the grey office.

"Until when," the secretary pulled out a thick calendar and a chewed up pen.
Mrs. Stebbins' short, blond hair whipped back as she ran through the mercifully empty hallways, flashing past crowded classrooms. She shot down the stairs, out the door and was darting through the parking lot, mind already elsewhere, before the secretary looked up to see she was gone.


"Who is my brave boy," Mrs. Stebbins asked as she pulled aside the drab blue curtain around her son's hospital bed. The young boy dozed peacefully, wrapped around a teddy bear twice his size. Mrs. Stebbins smiled for the first time all day and years melted from her face. That is, until the nurse coughed from the bedside chair to attract her attention.

"He's been asking for you all day, Mrs. Stebbins," the young, childless nurse pouted in a manner that sleazy patients had reinforced as appealing. "I don't see how you can leave him here like that."

The boy jerked awake, eyes wide with fear.

"Don't leave!" he gasped, eyes wildly roving the room for something to lock on.
Instead, Mrs. Stebbins wrapped him in a gentle hug, obscuring the boy's vision with a practiced hug. He squeezed her as tight as he could, which wasn't very hard at all, and whimpered, "Don't leave, mom."

The nurse, rudely taking in the tender moment, clucked her tongue and crossed her arms over her obscenely large chest.

"Where is his father, for that matter?" Mrs. Stebbins nearly hissed at the uppity nurse before she realized how silly it would look. Smiling at herself, she locked eyes and continued to grin. The nurse, quickly becoming unsettled, huffed and finally turned away from mother and son.

"You know where I'll be," she huffed, heels click clacking down the hallway before she'd even finished speaking. Mrs. Stebbins hugged her boy tightly, the better to breath in the scent of his soft, curly hair, and laid him back to bed.

"Mommy's never leaving you again," Mrs. Stebbins grimly spat out and moved to the nurse's vacated chair. Within moments, the boy was asleep and Mrs. Stebbins wasn't far behind, head resting against the plush head rest. "Mommy's new job is you, my darling, darling boy."


"Oh my god!"

Mrs. Stebbins jerked awake, muscles aching with cramps. The nurse stood over her, confusion and horror relaxing her face into shy beauty. She stared at Mrs. Stebbins, frozen. Looking down, still groggy, Mrs. Stebbins finally felt the weight of her small son on her lap. The boy was limp, and as she wrapped him in her thin arms, she could feel the last of his heat ebbing away.

The nurse broke down and screamed loud and long, but Mrs. Stebbins had faded out. She clutched her son's body tenderly, far away in a happy day dream. A doctor slapped the worthless nurse and shooed her from the room, but Mr. Stebbins didn't notice, or care. It wasn't until the doctor tugged her son's body that she snapped back to the world, chest suddenly crushed, lungs straining to draw in air.

"No," she whispered and clutched him tighter. "I can't leave him."

"I'm sorry, but he's gone," the Doctor moved the boy from her arms to the gurney. "It's best to throw yourself into work. Teacher, wasn't it? That's fulfilling, right?"

He waited, ready to wheel her child away and send her back to a job that didn't exist. At that exact moment, she couldn't, for the life of her, decide if she should laugh or cry.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Karma Cookies

I was standing in my hallway, clad only in boxers. It was late, dark out, and yet Marion was on the porch smoking. She was smiling, bent over something. Drugged with sleep but overwhelmed by curiosity, I stumbled to the glass door and knocked.


She jumped and dropped a lighter. On the red brick in front of her, something burned. It was a gooey pile, slowly flickering out.

“Jesus, why are you awake?” she whined halfheartedly.

I gestured to the flaccid dick hanging out of my boxers. She sighed.

“His majesty had to take a leak. Please, continue…” I stretched the word out into moments, hoping to egg an answer out of her. She dropped swiftly to the ground, snatched the lighter and popped back up before quipping,

“Melting slugs.”

“You’re what?” I gasped, half way between laughter and horror.

Within moments she had snatched a large slug from the brick wall with her tweezers and torched the slimy body. Its head crumpled in on itself, the antenna crisped into smoke and its gooey slim coating quickly melted into a viscous puddle of sludge.

The look on her face was joyful. She nudged me and laughed.

“I hate bugs.” She shuddered. I quickly scanned the cement patio and counted two-dozen glistening scorch marks. The lighter flicked off. Now seared to my brick wall was a shaking glob of white and brown and burnt jelly.

She sharply clapped her hands together, startling me from my horrified trance, and marched briskly inside just in time to hear a buzzer squawk. Oven mitt in, er… on hand, she flipped the timer off, swung open the oven and spatulaed steaming chocolate chip cookies onto a decorative plate.

It was 2am on Tuesday night. I had work in the morning, but cookies? How could I not have cookies. Does your girlfriend make you cookies?

I had two. And a glass of milk. As I looked up from the table, licking my fingers, I saw her on the patio again. Except this time, she was sitting on the ground, legs askew. I dropped the empty glass. I slid to my knees outside before its crash reverberated though the house.

I clutched her drooping head to my chest and slowly ran my fingers all over her body, feeling for a wound of any kind. She gurgled and coughed, eyes suddenly opening wide. Her mouth gaped open and I saw a large chunk of cookie.

She was choking, Oh Thank God! I could handle this. I turned her around. Arms tight, I locked my fists under her sternum. She hiccuped and I pumped. Her throat constricted. I pumped again. This time, she coughed, spraying the glass door with bits of cookie. The pieces slid competitively down the glass.

“Thanks.” She coughed weakly and sighed into my chest, completely spent. “Eyes are bigger than my mouth, I guess.”

I stood her up and leaned her against the wall. The glass door intrigued me. Three wet pieces gently raced down the gritty glass. Two were similarly sized cookie bits; the other was a vibrant, orange slug the size of my thumb oozing a viscous green trail.

Marion stood, head in her hands. I seized her jaw and pressed her tongue flat. Large blisters coated her mouth. My finger scratched one and it burst, spilling sickly yellow mucous and dark blood everywhere. She didn’t even put up a fight.

“We have to go to the hospital.” I stared into her vacant eyes and smoothed her hair back. I tugged her behind me and into the hallway. Across the room I saw the glistening trails of the racers. Marion coughed, snapping me out of my morbid curiosity.

At the end of the sheet of glass, the slug oozed off and down the side. It had time to take three sturdy undulations before the first cookie piece hit the ground. I could see it crawl over a burnt pile of goo, undulate and grow an inch larger.

I dropped Marion’s hand and rushed to the glass. All the puddles of goo were gone and the now apple-sized vibrant, orange slug stared straight at me, though it had no discernible eyes.

I slammed and locked the glass door, ignoring the smile lingering on its nonexistent lips. From the hall I heard retching and rushed out. Marion was bent over hurling blood. I closed the front door, threw her into my car and dialed 9-1-1.