Trifecta- The Guest Part XXV

This week’s Trifecta prompt queued up another installment of our crazy partnership and their ever-unfolding saga of strange.  Trifecta asked us to use:

FUNK (noun)
1 a :  a state of paralyzing fear
b :  a depressed state of mind
2 :  one that funks :  COWARD
3 :  SLUMP  <an economic funk>  <the team went into a funk>

Need to get caught up on the story?  Check out all previous installments here.

And now this week’s 330 words.  Enjoy!

Me, a Dad! I just couldn’t get over the surprise of it all. I should have seen the signs all along. And it definitely explained all the odd behavior and the lingering funk she’d been in for the past few months.

As I made my way to our bedroom, any apprehension I felt melted away. This was great news!

“Baby, hey wake up. We need to talk.” I said gently shaking her awake. I guess pregnant women sleep a lot, because here she was napping at 3 in the afternoon.

She opened her eyes staring blankly at me.

“Come on, sit up. Let’s chat.”

“About what?” she managed to get out between yawns.

“About us. About the baby,” I said grinning like a fool.

“Baby?” she questioned.

“Yeah, look you don’t have to keep it a secret anymore. I know. The increased appetite, the mood swings, the afternoon naps,” I said nodding toward the bed. “It all adds up. I know. So out with it. Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Yes, oh, that,” she said slowly sitting up. “Well, I guess the gig is up. Yep, I’m knocked up. Preggars. I’ve got a proverbial bun in my oven,” she said laughing nervously.

“And you didn’t want to let me in on the news? I mean, shouldn’t I know, as the father?”

“Yes, I suppose you should. Listen, I just didn’t know how to tell you. Everything feels so weird right now. I’ve got this alien life inside of me. I feel a bit out of control. Sometimes it’s like I’m not manning the helm anymore. I’m just not…myself,” she said giving me her now standard sideways head tilt.

“Do you want to know what I think?”

“Huh?” she said waiting.

“I think it’s phenomenal! I think it’s great!” I said embracing her in a hug that sent us both sprawling on the bed.

“Oh shit, sorry. I need to learn to be a bit more careful with you I suppose!”

Stay positive & love your life!

-Melissa

Today:

Listening to:  Third Eye Blind – Deep Inside Of You

Eating:  Tofu stir fry

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The Guest (Part XXIV)

This week I’m moving my The Guest story along once again.  This story started out as an entry for Trifecta in October and was only supposed to span that month.  Well, here we are in February still pushing toward the conclusion (which has changed in my head several times!).  Check out my last installment here.  Or get caught up on the entire story here.

The first 100 of the 321 words are also for my buddy Lance’s 100 Word Song Challenge.  If you’re not familiar, go check it out.  He writes some cool stuff (including two books….I’m just a smidge jealous)  and this week he was awesome enough to let me select the song:  Blind Melon’s “Tones of Home”.

The entire 321 are for Trifecta’s challenge this week using the third definition of the word manipulate.  Enjoy!

 

“Hmmm, what do I think? Well, for one, I don’t like the way you’re living. I mean everyday recently has been like a rollercoaster.” She said, her voice pitched perfectly in tones of my childhood home.

I silently rolled my eyes.. Here is comes; cue the judgmental sister soapboxing. How could she possibly understand? Cause, the problem, it’s here. It’s what she can’t see.

“But,” she continued. “I think I know what’s going with her.”

I leaned in waiting for her to reveal the nugget of understanding I so desperately needed.

“She’s obviously pregnant. God, you guys are so unobservant.”

—–

“Yo, hey bro, still on the phone?” she asked.

I snapped out of shock and replied, “Yeah, I’m here.”

“Well, have you found the answer you’re looking for?”

“I’m 100% sure that isn’t the answer I was expecting. I thought she’d gone looney. You know she’s been freaking out ever since the whole aquarium pod thing and then there was Cubbie. I just thought she’d completely lost it. This? A baby? Why hasn’t she said anything?” I asked.

“Shit, look at your reaction! You aren’t exactly jumping for joy ya know.”

“No, it’s cool. The idea of being a father actually feels pretty good. It’s just,” I said pausing. “Why hasn’t she told me? I’m Mr. Supportive! It’s like she simply used all of these weird happenings to manipulate the truth. Maybe she is looney!”

“Honey, all pregnant women are looney! Look, you guys haven’t exactly had the easiest last couple of months. Her body is freaking out on her and then there’s the hormones. The hormones, you don’t know anything about that!” she said.

“Me a Dad? Yeah, okay. Me a Dad! You know, it’s been an eventful and enlightening call Sis. Thanks, but I think I need to go find the future mother of my child. As per usual, she has some explaining to do.” I said hanging up.

 

Stay positive & love your life!

-Melissa

 

Today:

Listening to:  Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Pin

Eating:  broccoli and carrots with Gardein Chk’in.

Random fact:  There are few things I hate more in life than a person camping out in the left lane of the highway.  Asshole, are you oblivious to all of the cars passing you on the right?  Yep, you are.

100 Word Song Challenge: Take It To the Sky (The Guest Part XXIII)

100 more words of The Guest for this week’s 100 Word Song Challenge.  Prompt song for the week:  Tori Amos “Take to the Sky”

New to The Guest?  Get caught up here.

“I feel like I’m moving in circles, ya know?” I said to Beth over the phone. I knew things had gotten really confusing any time I reached out for advice from my big sister. She was full of great insight and ideas, but she had a challenging time reserving her judgment.

“Once I think we’re okay, there she goes again, just, well, acting like a weirdo.” My confession felt good. This is the first time I’d acknowledged to someone else that I was struggling with whatever she was putting me through.

“So let me have it. What do you think?”

 

Stay positive & love your life!

-Melissa

 

Today:

Listening to:  Boss Hog – Sick

Eating:  Leftover tofu and macaroni casserole.

Random thought:  Holy crap is the Shaky Knees festival line-up insane this year.  So excited!

 

Trifecta: The Guest Part XXII

I’m continuing on toward the conclusion of my short story, “The Guest” for this week’s Trifecta writing challenge.  If you’d like to catch up on the story from the beginning, I’ve now housed it all in one post:  HERE.

This week, Trifecta gave us this prompt:
QUAINT (adjective)

1: obsolete: EXPERT, SKILLED
2a: marked by skillful design
b: marked by beauty or elegance
3a : unusual or different in character or appearance : ODD
b : pleasingly or strikingly old-fashioned or unfamiliar

Remember:
• Your response must be between 33 and 333 words.
• You must use the 3rd definition of the given word in your post.
• The word itself needs to be included in your response.
• You may not use a variation of the word; it needs to be exactly as stated above.
• Only one entry per writer.
• If your post doesn’t meet our requirements, please leave your link in the comments section, not in the linkz.
• Trifecta is open to everyone.

And now, Part XXII of “The Guest”.  Enjoy!

She sat across from me shoveling down her second helping of chili. Glancing up she caught me watching her.

“What?” she asked between bites. “I’m starving.”

I pushed a kidney bean around the bottom of my bowl taking a moment before responding.

“Obviously,” I said. “You’ve never had such an, appetite, before.”

She looked up and tilted her head sideways in a quaint movement that she’d taken to doing lately. It was as if she was trying very hard to understand what I meant or like I was some anomaly she was trying to figure out.

“Yes, I’m hungry. Don’t you think this recipe is to die for? We have to make this again,” she said scraping the bottom for the very last trace. “Are you going to finish yours?”

After dinner we retired to the couch for a little catch-up time on the DVR. She pulled a blanket around her and sighed, curling up next to me. I scrolled through our list several times before settling on “Ancient Aliens”.

“….and you can see here hieroglyphics that match another set found in a cave over 3500 miles away. Clearly these marking were inspired by the same event or visitor.”

I felt her body start to quiver ever so slightly, a precursor to a wave of laughter that erupted from her. “Clearly!” she chuckled. “Like anyone’s going to believe this guy. Just look at him!” she stammered.

I picked up the remote poised to change over to another show. I knew my shows about ghosts, aliens, and Bigfoot hunters weren’t her thing. “Okay, okay, you’ve made your point, “I said.

“No, don’t change it. This is great! I want to see what he comes up with next,” she said popping up off the couch. “You want anything? I’m gonna grab a snack.”

“No, I’m good. We did just finish eating 15 minutes ago!” I said as she started rummaging through the pantry.

“Yeah, but seriously, I’m famished!”

Word count:  326

Thanks so much to those of you who’ve followed this story and offered feedback.  It means a lot.  This is my first attempt at a series since I started taking a stab at writing fiction through the blog.  It’s fun, but a bit scary at the same time.  Writing in such small bits is manageable for my work schedule, but it also makes is challenging when you’re attempting to keep the story “flowing”.  It’s a work in progress, both my writing in general and this story!  Constructive criticism welcome.

Stay positive & love your life!

-Melissa

Today:

Listening to:  Ellie Goulding – Dead In The Water

Eating:  Salad and leftover noodles.

Random thought:  I read that Martin Luther King Jr. said that his “first intellectual contact with the theory of nonviolence and resistance” was via the essay “Civil Disobedience” by Henry David Thoreau.  I find this fascinating for two reasons:  1.  This essay was written nearly 200 years ago and it’s still making a huge impact in people’s lives.  Now that is some powerful writing.  2.  Given King’s religious ties, you’d have thought the Bible would have been his first contact with this theory!

martin-luther-king-crossfit-sanitas

The Guest- Ongoing Short Story

This post will house the entire “The Guest” tale as it unfolds.   This story is one I’ve been building is small bursts each week through the Trifecta and 100 Word Song writing challenges using a key word or song of the week as inspiration.   Parts are separated by dashes.  Thanks for reading along!

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It started yesterday as a bit of normal looking algae, but by the time the afternoon sun was high in the sky, it’d sprouted a worm-like body which began to move about the tank.
This morning I don’t know what I expected I’d see when I clicked on the overhead lamp, but it wasn’t this. “Its” body had morphed into something resembling a dragon fruit, knobby and pod like. The space between it and the castle had diminished considerably. The tube connecting the tiny scuba diver to his air had been severed; he bopped helplessly along the top of the water.

Is it a snail?  It still resembled plant life, but it really didn’t look like anything I’d ever seen. 

I peered into the water looking for animal-like qualities.  Is there a mouth?  I didn’t see one.  Eyes?  The little knobby bumps seemed to be oscillating, but I wasn’t sure. 

“Matt, come in here and check this thing out,” I hollered upstairs.

“What the hell do you think it is?” I asked as we both stared through the water.

“I have no clue.  But if we don’t clean it out of there soon, the fish are going to run out of room,” he said.

He was right.  Our fish had relegated themselves to the far corners.  They hadn’t even surfaced when I’d sprinkled their morning flakes. 

“They’re terrified.  That’s proof enough that this thing is no good.  Just look at it,” he said, his face contorting with disgust. 

“Well it’s clearly alive; I’d feel bad just killing it.  Besides, my curiosity has gotten the best of me.  I want to see what, exactly, this thing is.” I said, my eyes wide with amusement.

“Okay crazy,” he laughed.  “But just remember what they say about curiosity.  And don’t come crying to me when your precious fish bite the dust.”

“Fine.  It’s just some sort of snail thing.  What’s the worst that can happen? Now, let’s talk about our Halloween party.  We need to get planning.”

“What’s to plan?  We need booze and food,” he said smiling.  He knew my propensity for planning every minor detail.

“Hardy har-har,” I said,  punching his arm.  “Seriously, I want this to be the best party ever.  I was thinking maybe a “Walking Dead” theme. You know, we could make some body part decorations, a grave yard out front, and there’s even a drink called a zombie!”

“Sounds fun, as long as I don’t have to dress up,” he replied.

I had given up long ago on getting him to don a costume.  It was never going to happen.

Just as I’m hanging up the phone, it rings.  “What did you forget Mom?” I ask.  But it is my father’s voice that responds.

“What is this I hear about an alien snail?” he says.  “I’m not sure I like this thing being in your house.  Why hasn’t Matt tossed it yet?”

“Dad, calm down.  First, I never referred to it as an alien snail.  That’s absurd.  And if anyone is going to toss it, it’s going to be me.  Matt doesn’t know the first thing about fish tanks.”

“Well, just get rid of it before it sprouts fangs, okay?”

“What the heck are those?”  Matt questioned.

“Just quit looking at it.  It hasn’t changed in a week or so.  I think it’s full grown.”

“Yeah, so it’s just some sort of weird algae-looking, pulsing, knobby alien being; nothing to worry about, because it hasn’t grown,” he said rolling his eyes at me.  “Well it may not be any bigger today, but did you not notice the little rod like things fanning out all around it?  They look like something I saw under the microscope in bio-lab back in the day.  Baccili!  Seriously, how do I even remember that?”

I got up and shuffled over to the tank.  “Move, let me look,” I said.  Truth be told, I was actually starting to get a bit bored of our little guest.

“Wow, what are those?” I said my interest again piqued.  “They look like little baby versions of our friend.”

“Fan-freaking-tastic.  So “she” is having babies now?  Let’s flush it.  Seriously, it’s freaky.” he said shutting off the tank lamp. 

“Fine, we’ll clean the tank tomorrow.  Happy?” I said.  “But you’re getting her out.  I’m not going to be a murderer.”

“I’ll happily do it.  Last night I dreamt this thing got out and ate Cubbie.  It creeps me out.”

“It’s a shame we couldn’t figure out what she is. What if she’s some exotic tag-along from an island?  Like, maybe when the breeders captured their original fish, she came over too?  Maybe she’s been dormant for all of these years and our tank somehow awoke her from hibernation.  She could be some rare creature from the Babuyan Islands!”  I exclaimed.

“I don’t care if it’s from the Galapogos Islands and vital to evolution and carrying the answer to the universe its weird mouth.  Because I know it has a mouth and probably teeth too.  I just want it gone.  Tomorrow.  Deal?” he said sticking his hand out.

“Deal,” I said shaking it begrudgingly.

Matt awoke with a jolt, flinging off the covers. 

“Jesus!  What the hell?” I exclaimed. 

“I just had the worst dream about that damn thing downstairs.  Seriously, like zombie, drugged-out, wake up in a cold sweat bad,” he said.

Sure enough, when I felt the blankets, they were soaked through. 

“Sheesh, guess it was pretty bad babe,” I soothed. “Come on, up and at em!  Let’s get our day started by booting out our house guest.  After all, I did promise you and my curiosity isn’t worth you having night terrors!”

“Thank God.  It’s about time,” he said already up. 

As soon as I was downstairs, I knew something was very wrong.  My bare feet tapped down onto the foyer floor and felt something cold and wet.   The deep sea diver was stranded helplessly against the front door.  “Oh shit,” I said as an icy chill crept up my spine. 

Matt was right on my heels.  “Shit is right.  What the hell happened?”

We made our way into the living room careful to avoid the broken glass and rock fragments.  “I think our guest had a growth spurt last night by the looks of it,” I said bending to pick up the fake castle. 

“Jesus, I told you we should have tossed that thing the moment it appeared.  Now look at the mess…..” Matt said heading to the laundry to fetch the mop.

I’d only heard half of what he said, because something was very off.  And it was more than our tank being destroyed.  The air felt thin and my chest heavy.  Each breath I took seemed to catch in my throat.  The morning sun was casting odd shadows on the floor and I could swear someone was in the room with us.

Matt put his arm around my shoulders.  “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to yell.  I know you loved that tank.  Let’s get this cleaned up.  Hey, are you shivering?  What’s wrong?”

Straightening up, I rallied my strength.  I’d have to be the picture of courage, a phantom of bravery to get through what I had to tell him.  “Listen baby,” I started slowly “I don’t want you to panic okay?  Everything is going to be fine.”

He followed my gaze down to the floor.  There, amongst the glass and rock, was our guest, well, at least part of it.  The once solid and pulsing pod had burst.  It now looked like a hollowed out pumpkin; a sanguine fluid oozed out of the large rip in the center.  Whatever was inside was there no longer.

Matt took in the scene on the floor; eyes flashing with confusion coupled with fear.  He turned from me and walked out the back door.  From inside, I watched him pace the length of the yard muttering to himself.  It was clear that I’d have to be the strong one here.  It was only fair; I’d gotten us into this mess.

Returning he said, “Well we’re not staying here trapped with this thing, prisoners in our home.   Maybe we can burn the house down?  Be done with it?  Shit, this thing is probably fireproof.  For all we know it’s invincible!”

“Just take a moment to breath.  We don’t even know what this thing is or exactly what’s happened here.” I soothed.

“Exactly my point, crazy!  We don’t know what is loose in our house, if it hasn’t already escaped into the neighborhood.  Would you open your eyes and look at the floor!”  he shouted pointing at the empty pod.

“Yeah, I saw it.  Look, let’s just get this mess cleaned up and go from there.  We’ve got a lot to do before our guests arrive tonight.”  I started carefully picking up glass.

“Are you shitting me?  Did I just hear you say that the party is still on?” he said, his face contorting in a mixture of pure confusion and growing anger.

“You sure did.  I’m not cancelling something we’ve been planning for months over this, this, well whatever all this is.  Just grab the mop and start helping me.”

Boo!” he shouted, sloppily mopping in circles.

“That’s the spirit!”  I said smiling.

“No, not that boo.  I’m booing you.  I’m booing you for keeping this stupid thing.  I’m booing you for acting like absolutely nothing is wrong when we have an escaped creature or something lurking around.  And I’m booing myself by being a world-class idiot and standing here cleaning with you.  You know, this is the shit that happens in horror movies.  Right now someone is throwing popcorn at the screen and screaming,  ‘Get out of the house!’”

“You’re not an idiot babe!  You’re my fearless boyfriend who is death-defyingly helping me clean up the great tank disaster of 2013.”  I joked,  ending with a little homage to the Friday the 13th theme music.

He didn’t laugh.

“Matty, grab me a few garbage bags would you? I’m gonna pick this thing up.” I said poking it with a glass shard.

As he left the room I quickly moved the orange hair clumps I’d just discovered under the debris pile.  Maybe his dream about Cubbie wasn’t so crazy.  Where was that damn cat?

I deftly scooped the vacant pod and cat hair into a bag.

As Matt was busying himself with what seemed like an infinite amount of glass, my attention found itself locked on the baby pods.  Some seemed to have dried out and cemented to the floor. But others quivered in the tiny puddle by the sofa.  I leaned over to sweep them into the bag, but something stopped me.  Instead, I palmed the lively ones, smuggled them to the kitchen and placed them in a Big Gulp cup of water.

“Hang in there little ones,” I whispered, quickly hiding them.

With the house clean, the decorations up, and the food and booze out, we were ready to host a killer party.  And aside from the fact that I hadn’t seen Cubbie and we’d hours before burned an alien pod in our chimenea, I thought everything was going superbly. 

“You’re acting awfully weird even for you,” Matt said as we prepared ourselves to receive the first guests.

“No way!  I’m just excited about this party!” I reassured.

 All the while my eyes kept darting back to the cupboard where the baby pods were hidden.  How long until I needed to move them from that cup?  Why the hell couldn’t I just have tossed them in the trash?  Why did I feel the need to constantly make sure they were safe?  I was going to have to use some serious craft and diversion tactics to keep Matt from discovering us, I mean them.   

At eight on the dot, the doorbell rang. But It was just our next door neighbor Mike.  He hadn’t been invited to the party; zombies and cocktails weren’t really his scene.

“Oh, I guess you guys are entertaining tonight,” he said peeking in the house.  “I won’t keep you long.  It’s Cubbie I’m here about.”

My heart sank.  Shit, that thing must have dragged him outside.  I glanced up at Matt preparing to console him. 

“Did y’all know he’s outside?  He was over in my garage eating Peachy’s food.  I tried to grab him to bring back over, but he hissed and scurried out.  A few minutes later I heard him and Peachy fighting.  Just thought you’d want to know.  He’s normally so friendly; I’m not sure what’s gotten into him,” Mike explained.

My sigh of relief must have been audible.  Cubbie was alive!  I had one less thing to worry about tonight; now we just had to get him back in the house.

I didn’t even have time to step outside before Cubbie came darting in.  And he looked a mess.

Everything was going perfectly.  The music was pumping and our guests were dancing around the house in varying states of decay.  And of course there were a few Rick Grimes and Daryl Dixon costumes in the mix as well.

Our zombie drink concoction was a huge hit.  We’d already gone through three gallon jars of it and most of my undead friends showed no signs of slowing down.  I stood smiling in the kitchen; feeling quite proud of the party we’d managed to throw. 

Matt walked up and put his arm around me, “Well, I must admit, this is a pretty great party.  You were right about not calling it off.”

 “I’m always right, duh. Remember that for later,” I said winking. 

My gloating was short lived, because a scream came from the foyer.

“Holy shit, I was just going to pet him,” Brett cried his hands covering his face.

“Let me see,” I said pulling his hands away.

Cubbie had really done a number on him.  Four bleeding scratches stretched from his eyebrows to his chin. 

“Yikes, I’m sorry.  He’s been a bit weird all day.  Matt, can you put our wild animal upstairs?  I’m going to clean Brett up.” I said.

While Brett grimaced under my alcohol soaked cotton ball pats, another loud noise rang out from the kitchen.  It was the telltale sound of glass shattering followed by moans and a few obligatory “party foul!”.

“Sounds like things are getting wilder by the minute!  There that should do it.  Let’s get you another zombie to ease the sting,” I said walking Brett out to the kitchen.

It didn’t look like another zombie was a possibility.  The gallon jar was in pieces on the floor and a handful of walkers were cleaning it up.

“Um, what the hell is this? It’s like mold or something.  It was behind your cleaning supplies.”  Kasi said tilting my Big Gulp pod nursery over the sink.

“Give me that!”  I screamed. 

“Sheesh, don’t freak out,” Kasi said handing the cup over to me.  But it was too late, everyone had seen it.  Matt had seen it.

“What the hell is that?  Oh my God!  Are you freaking serious?  You kept them?  You hid them?  You lied?” Matt yelled at me while everyone watched.

“You know how I feel about it, them!  They’re living beings for crying out loud!  Think about it seriously, you know it makes sense,” I responded clutching the cup.

“I’ve had enough scheming and messing around.  We’re done with it.  It ends here and now,” he replied harshly.

BLOGGER’S NOTE:  This week poor Matt takes over the reigns of the story as it appears our leading lady is elsewhere.  He continues as the story’s narrator from here on out.

Weeks had gone by and still she refused to speak to me.  Each day passed in silence, icy glances, and my failed attempts to make things right.  The light in her had gone out the moment I’d flipped the switch to the garbage disposal.  I’d seen it flicker as I snatched the cup from her desperate clutch.  She watched loudly protesting as I poured them into the sink.  One final scream erupted as my hand reached for the switch and then nothing; as the sound of the grinding and chopping abated, dead silence.  Our guests stared back at us horrified.  She slowly retreated to the corner and melted, her body like a puddle of sorrow and defeat. 

“Perhaps we should call it a night, huh?”  I’d said to our friends.  And none hesitated to make their exits. 

“Hey, look at me.  Are you in there?” 

I must have uttered these words to her a hundred times.  Never was there a response. It was as if that disposal switch was connected to her and somehow I’d turned her off.  She seemed broken, half here.  The irony that I was now living with a zombie of sorts did not escape me.

I tried joking. 

“Did you hear the one about that explosion at the French cheese factory?”

Solemn face.

“All that was left was de brie.  Get it?”

She wouldn’t even crack a smile. 

I embraced her only to be met with a stiff body that slowly backed out of my arms.

With each failed attempt I felt her retreat into herself even more.

The only sign of life I saw was her constant contact with Cubbie.  The two were now inseparable.  It seemed like they were tethered to one another on some level I couldn’t comprehend, companions.  He followed her everywhere:  weaving in and out of her legs as she trudged through the house, curling up in her lap the moment she sat, and crying pitifully during the odd occasion she left the house.

Perhaps trauma has the power to bind beings.   It was in those moments with Cubbie purring in her lap that I could almost see her light begin to shine. And suddenly the world became a better place even if it was only for an instant. 

I’d ease a little closer encouraged by the hope that she was coming back to me.  Then Cubbie would lash out, mouth curled in a snarl.  He was daring me to come any closer.  So I’d back up, leave her to the darkness, and hope tomorrow would be different.  Maybe hoping was my first mistake.

Foolish perhaps, but I’d decided not to call off the Thanksgiving arrangements we’d previously made. Things really could have gone horribly wrong. After all, my folks were set to arrive on Wednesday and on Tuesday night we were going on a solid week since she’d even come out the bedroom. I’d been bringing up food and sitting on the edge of our bed pointlessly attempting to coax her out of this hole into which she’d vanished.

Wednesday night came and she remained in bed. I fed my mom a story about her being ill with some highly contagious bug. That kept them out of the room and bought me another day to pray for improvement. It also helped explain why I was sleeping on the couch.

But apparently all the worrying was for naught, because Thursday morning I awoke to the sound of humming coming from the kitchen. My eyes focused in on her beaming face. A pot of coffee was brewing and I could already smell Thanksgiving dinner in the making. Her eyes met mine and a huge smile spread across her face. “Good morning sleepy head,” she said energetically.

I made my way into the kitchen, my mouth probably hanging open in shock. I watched as she plunged her hand deep into the turkey’s cavity and pulled out the innards. She then rubbed olive oil and seasoning all over the bird and finished by stuffing it with all manner of vegetables and herbs. My girlfriend, the vegetarian, was joyfully preparing our Thanksgiving feast without flinching. In fact, she simply continued to hum and smile.

She washed her hands, popped the turkey into the oven, and turned around and winked at me. “This is going to be a fine meal my love,” she said. And as she walked by I felt a slap on my tush.

“What’s the matter?” she asked, her head cocked ever so slightly, bottom lip poking out in a faux pout. “Cat got your tongue?”

Snapping out of my shock, I smiled back at her. “I’m just a bit surprised is all. I mean, you haven’t been yourself for weeks. I thought I’d nearly lost you.” I said my expression moving from joy to concern.

“Huh,” she said shrugging casually. “I don’t really remember much of the last few weeks.” And then she continued her chopping, measuring, and stirring.

I shivered. Essentially she’d just gone through a month-long fugue state and here she was humming her way through Thanksgiving,  turkey and all! And here I was waiting for whatever had taken her “there” to return.

During dinner she was the picture of perfection. She happily served our guests and reveled in their compliments. I simply watched in awe as she danced from the kitchen to the dining room effortlessly; I’d never seen her like this. While she’d always been a decent hostess, she’d never been one to roll out the red carpet or dote on people. But her she was, my Martha Stewart who hours before had been damn near catatonic.

It was a true sight to see. Even my uncle who was normally a text book Scrooge seemed to melt in her presence. I even think I saw the old geezer smile. Maybe the stress of the whole tank incident had just been too much for her and she’d undergone some sort of reset. It seemed that she’d bounced back better than ever.

*******

A few days later as our guests pulled out, I pulled her in for a big hug.

“Thanks for being so wonderful baby,” I said kissing her on the forehead.

She giggled and said, “Of course. One always has to make sure guests are comfortable in one’s home.”

Her emphasis on the word guest left me feeling a bit off-balance, but my unease quickly passed as I watched her skip into the house. I’d never seen her so happy.

With dinner nearing I watched her grab the colander and ease on her boots.

“I thought we’d have a nice salad for dinner. We need something fresh after all that food!” she said rubbing her tummy.

She walked out the front door to her garden. I rarely went over there as she was very particular about the tending of her plots. I suppose I was lucky we’d been having so much rain, because I’d forgotten about it during her episode. She’d have been quite angry to walk out there and see her lettuce limp and her broccoli withered. I wondered how it had held up. Pulling on my shoes, I followed her outside.

I peered around the corner of the house and there she sat, legs akimbo on the cold ground. The colander lay forgotten at her feet. She was rocking rhythmically and holding something in her lap. I could hear her sobbing; it was getting louder by the second. It was as if some slow turning pain was building inside her. I went to call out, but hesitated and started backing away toward the house.

My clumsy feet defied me; I heard a twig snap and her head jerked around, our eyes meeting. There was something dark there shining through her tears.

“Spying on me?” she questioned, face blank.

“Nnnoo,” I stammered.

She continued to stare me dead in the eyes.

“Well, you might as well come look,” she said, her face suddenly softening. “He’s been gone for a while. I didn’t want to ruin your holidays.”

She lifted the lifeless body of Cubbie out toward me.

“Shit,” I said. What the hell was going on? Our cat had died and she hadn’t even told me?

Uneasily I reached for him; my fingers closed around his matted, dirt coated fur.

“Did you bury him?” I asked, fighting my instinct to simultaneously be sick, retreat, or weep for the loss of my little buddy.

“I did, but I couldn’t say goodbye. So I come out here to visit him. He was such a good cat; so malleable and eager to please,” she said.

I watched a single tear trickle down her cheek and hit the dirt. She was definitely upset, but Jesus, first she’s in a near coma for weeks and now she’s digging up our pet to visit each day. And malleable? Who describes a pet as malleable?

“How’d he die?” I asked realizing we hadn’t covered that very important fact.

She shrugged.

“Beats me. I found him one morning at the foot of our bed. It looks like something attacked him,” she explained.

“He lived inside. What could have possibly attacked him?” I said, my suspicions suddenly aroused.

“How the hell should I know? Look, let’s just make him a grave. I’ll say my final good-bye and we’ll go inside and cook dinner. Okay?” she fired back.

“Um, yeah, so much of this is not okay. You’ve been off the reservation for weeks only to come back as Susie Homemaker for Thanksgiving and now you’re telling me our cat’s been dead for…for.. well, for way too long not to tell me!” I yelled.

Whatever,” she said, shrugging and walking back toward the house.

I followed her inside like a scolded puppy. It was as if my body and mind operated independently. I knew I shouldn’t follow. I knew I should’ve cut the ties several episodes ago. But our life together was so precious, and despite it all, I couldn’t let her go.

So I told myself I’d give it one more chance. She’d be back to normal and it’d be like before. We’d be together again, on our own, like we used to be: no mystery pod creature, no strange aquarium disasters, and no comatose girlfriend. It’d be just like starting over, again.

And just like that, things were back to normal, at least some sense of what normal would mean for me now. We relaxed back into our routine. She visited Cubbie’s grave-site each day at noon when the sun sat high on its perch. Me, I resumed my role as the supporting act to her lead. This was, after all, her show. Though at times I felt ill-equipped to act, I was destined for this part.

So we moved on with our lives and everything seemed fine, great even. The nightmare that had been the underlying theme seemed to have passed.

She sat across from me shoveling down her second helping of chili. Glancing up she caught me watching her.

“What?” she asked between bites. “I’m starving.”

I pushed a kidney bean around the bottom of my bowl taking a moment before responding.

“Obviously,” I said. “You’ve never had such an, appetite, before.”

She looked up and tilted her head sideways in a quaint movement that she’d taken to doing lately. It was as if she was trying very hard to understand what I meant or like I was some anomaly she was trying to figure out.

“Yes, I’m hungry. Don’t you think this recipe is to die for? We have to make this again,” she said scraping the bottom for the very last trace. “Are you going to finish yours?”

After dinner we retired to the couch for a little catch-up time on the DVR. She pulled a blanket around her and sighed, curling up next to me. I scrolled through our list several times before settling on “Ancient Aliens”.

“….and you can see here hieroglyphics that match another set found in a cave over 3500 miles away. Clearly these marking were inspired by the same event or visitor.”

I felt her body start to quiver ever so slightly, a precursor to a wave of laughter that erupted from her. “Clearly!” she chuckled. “Like anyone’s going to believe this guy. Just look at him!” she stammered.

I picked up the remote poised to change over to another show. I knew my shows about ghosts, aliens, and Bigfoot hunters weren’t her thing. “Okay, okay, you’ve made your point, “I said.

“No, don’t change it. This is great! I want to see what he comes up with next,” she said popping up off the couch. “You want anything? I’m gonna grab a snack.”

“No, I’m good. We did just finish eating 15 minutes ago!” I said as she started rummaging through the pantry.

“Yeah, but seriously, I’m famished!”

“I feel like I’m moving in circles, ya know?” I said to Beth over the phone. I knew things had gotten really confusing any time I reached out for advice from my big sister. She was full of great insight and ideas, but she had a challenging time reserving her judgment.

“Once I think we’re okay, there she goes again, just, well, acting like a weirdo.” My confession felt good. This is the first time I’d acknowledged to someone else that I was struggling with whatever she was putting me through.

“So let me have it. What do you think?”

“Hmmm, what do I think? Well, for one, I don’t like the way you’re living. I mean everyday recently has been like a rollercoaster.” She said, her voice pitched perfectly in tones of my childhood home.

 

I silently rolled my eyes.. Here is comes; cue the judgmental sister soapboxing. How could she possibly understand? Cause, the problem, it’s here. It’s what she can’t see.

 

“But,” she continued. “I think I know what’s going with her.”

 

I leaned in waiting for her to reveal the nugget of understanding I so desperately needed.

 

“She’s obviously pregnant. God, you guys are so unobservant.”

 

“Yo, hey bro, still on the phone?” she asked.

 

I snapped out of shock and replied, “Yeah, I’m here.”

 

“Well, have you found the answer you’re looking for?”

 

“I’m 100% sure that isn’t the answer I was expecting. I thought she’d gone looney. You know she’s been freaking out ever since the whole aquarium pod thing and then there was Cubbie. I just thought she’d completely lost it. This? A baby? Why hasn’t she said anything?” I asked.

 

“Shit, look at your reaction! You aren’t exactly jumping for joy ya know.”

 

“No, it’s cool. The idea of being a father actually feels pretty good. It’s just,” I said pausing. “Why hasn’t she told me? I’m Mr. Supportive! It’s like she simply used all of these weird happenings to manipulate the truth. Maybe she is looney!”

 

“Honey, all pregnant women are looney! Look, you guys haven’t exactly had the easiest last couple of months. Her body is freaking out on her and then there’s the hormones. The hormones, you don’t know anything about that!” she said.

 

“Me a Dad? Yeah, okay. Me a Dad! You know, it’s been an eventful and enlightening call Sis. Thanks, but I think I need to go find the future mother of my child. As per usual, she has some explaining to do.” I said hanging up.

 

***

And now this week’s 330 words.  Enjoy!

Me, a Dad! I just couldn’t get over the surprise of it all. I should have seen the signs all along. And it definitely explained all the odd behavior and the lingering funk she’d been in for the past few months.

As I made my way to our bedroom, any apprehension I felt melted away. This was great news!

“Baby, hey wake up. We need to talk.” I said gently shaking her awake. I guess pregnant women sleep a lot, because here she was napping at 3 in the afternoon.

She opened her eyes staring blankly at me.

“Come on, sit up. Let’s chat.”

“About what?” she managed to get out between yawns.

“About us. About the baby,” I said grinning like a fool.

“Baby?” she questioned.

“Yeah, look you don’t have to keep it a secret anymore. I know. The increased appetite, the mood swings, the afternoon naps,” I said nodding toward the bed. “It all adds up. I know. So out with it. Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Yes, oh, that,” she said slowly sitting up. “Well, I guess the gig is up. Yep, I’m knocked up. Preggars. I’ve got a proverbial bun in my oven,” she said laughing nervously.

“And you didn’t want to let me in on the news? I mean, shouldn’t I know, as the father?”

“Yes, I suppose you should. Listen, I just didn’t know how to tell you. Everything feels so weird right now. I’ve got this alien life inside of me. I feel a bit out of control. Sometimes it’s like I’m not manning the helm anymore. I’m just not…myself,” she said giving me her now standard sideways head tilt.

“Do you want to know what I think?”

“Huh?” she said waiting.

“I think it’s phenomenal! I think it’s great!” I said embracing her in a hug that sent us both sprawling on the bed.

“Oh shit, sorry. I need to learn to be a bit more careful with you I suppose!”

100 Word Song: Limelight (The Guest Part XXI)

This week’s songspiration comes by way of our friends in the great, white north, Canada to be specific:  Rush’s “Limelight”.  Rush is a strange band with even stranger fans.  Their lyrics, saga-like albums, and overall approach to music speaks to my inner nerd.  What a great prompt for this crazy little tale I’m concocting.Check out last week’s installment here:  https://melstepp01.wordpress.com/2014/01/08/100-word-song-starting-over-the-guest-part-xx/

Next time I’ll provide a link of the entire story to date.  I’m actually a little nervous to read it as a piece, because I’m not sure how well these little choppy bits will fit together.  Cohesively?  We shall see.  This is my first stab a  longer story.

And now, The Guest Part XXI-

And just like that, things were back to normal, at least some sense of what normal would mean for me now. We relaxed back into our routine. She visited Cubbie’s grave-site each day at noon when the sun sat high on its perch. Me, I resumed my role as the supporting act to her lead. This was, after all, her show. Though at times I felt ill-equipped to act, I was destined for this part.

So we moved on with our lives and everything seemed fine, great even. The nightmare that had been the underlying theme seemed to have passed.

 

Stay positive & love your life!

-Melissa

 

Today:

Listening to:  George Ezra – Budapest

Eating:  Black beans, black rice, veggies, and soysage.

Random thought:  I’ve been thinking about the sun and beach all morning.  By the time warm weather arrives, I’ll be jumping out of my skin!

100 Word Song: Starting Over (The Guest Part XX)

100 Word Song is back this week and Lance & Leeroy have started the year off with a John Lennon tune, “(Just Like) Starting Over”.  It’s a great fit to continue my The Guest series considering what happened last time (click here to catch up).

And now, part XX:

I followed her inside like a scolded puppy. It was as if my body and mind operated independently. I knew I shouldn’t follow. I knew I should’ve cut the ties several episodes ago. But our life together was so precious, and despite it all, I couldn’t let her go.

So I told myself I’d give it one more chance. She’d be back to normal and it’d be like before. We’d be together again, on our own, like we used to be: no mystery pod creature, no strange aquarium disasters, and no comatose girlfriend. It’d be just like starting over, again.

 

I also wanted to take the time today to make you guys aware of a great site for gift giving, Uncommongoods.com.  They have some great stuff in a variety of price ranges.  It’s a great place to find something for someone who likes the nerdy and off-the-wall or that person who really does have everything.  I’ve picked up some really cool stuff for my folks here and just last month scored a super cute wedding gift for a couple in their thirties who are well established (ie. they don’t need a damn toaster).  Check it out:

24397_meds

You put the heart pin where you met.   I thought it was super adorable.

There are only a few sites that I tend to come back to time and time again, and this is one of them.  They always have new, interesting stuff.  Check them out!

http://www.uncommongoods.com/product/whiskey-stones-gift-set

http://www.uncommongoods.com/product/pick-punch

http://www.uncommongoods.com/product/kinetic-sand

Be careful when you get their catalog; you’ll want everything in there!

Stay positive & love your life!

-Melissa

Today:

Listening to: Banks – This Is What It Feels Like

Eating:  The rest of the sesame ch’kin.  Yum.

First song that popped into my head this morning:

Random thought:  I amazed at the human subconscious and what it can “create”.   I am dreamer.  I literally dream every night AND always remember my dreams upon waking.  I sometimes wake myself crying.  Sometimes I work out solutions to problems via my dreams.  And usually I awake with a song on the brain.  How did this Pet Shop Boys song end up being the first thing on my mind this morning?  Analyze away.