Wednesday, August 18, 2021

The Other Side (short fiction) Ch. 12 by Leanne Dyck

 Ch. 11 Becky phones Mara to tell her that she, Tom, and Rusty will be coming for a visit. When Mara gives Becky the address, Becky wonders aloud why it sounds familiar.

photo by ldyck

The Other Side

Chapter twelve

That night I tossed and turned. Owen growled and so I climbed out of bed.

I paced back and forth across the living room carpet, muttering to myself. "She'll find something wrong with this place. I just know she will. And she'll make me hate it." I turned around and headed in the other direction. "I know, I'll phone her and tell her not to come. I'll tell her that I forgot that we have plans or that something came up--that Owen had a heart attack and died or came down with a killer flu. Yeah--yeah--yeah... No." I fell onto the futon. "I can't do that. I have to be nice. I have to welcome her into my home. If I don't, she'll get angry at me and end our friendship. Then I'll be all alone. She has to come... She is coming..."

I wanted to run; I wanted to hide--but where? The laundry room...

The concrete wall felt cold and solid. Had it all been a dream?

Silver smoke seeped into the room. Sunlight...

"Windy," I called. "I'm here. Windy?"

A unicorn with a shiny horn galloped up to me, dropped to one knee, and bowed his head. The tip of his horn rested on the ground. I climbed onto his back and he carried me down the oatmeal cookie path--with each hoof step, a gentle sway, a gentle rock. A yawn broke through my lips. Far off in the distance a tambourine and guitars played Bob Dylan's Mr. Tambourine Man. I rested my head on the unicorn's neck and drifted off to sleep.

I'm not sure how long I slept or how far we went but when the unicorn knelt and bowed his head, I woke, stretched, and climbed off his back.

I found Windy lying in the grass with her arms folded behind her head, starring into the endless blue sky.

A candyfloss cloud looked like an airplane.

"Star," Windy said.

The cloud changed its shape to form a star.

"Bird," she said.

Once again the cloud slowly changed its change.

"That's so cool," I said.

Windy pushed herself up to rest on her elbows. "Cool." She smiled at me. "Your turn."

"House," I said.

A fluffy candyfloss house took shape before my eyes.

"Fish--Dog--Crown," I said. As fast as I spoke the candyfloss cloud transformed itself. "Cloud."

The cloud floated into a fluffy ball.

"Ha, ha, fooled you." I laughed.

Windy sat cross-legged on the grass. "You're dealing with something heavy."

Words climbed all over each other to get out of my mouth. She was a good listener and so I told her everything--about my job, where I spent eight hours a day apologizing, and I said, "I have a friend." I used air quotes. "She likes to push me around if you know what I mean."

"I dig."

"She's coming over to visit and I really don't want her to but I have to let her; I have to be nice; I have to make her feel welcome; I have to... But I don't want to. But I have to. I don't know what to do. She'll make me feel bad. She'll make me feel like a failure. It's her thing."

"People want to be heard. People have a right to be heard. So listen but you don't have to buy what they're selling. You dig?" I guess she knew by the look on my face that I didn't understand. 

She pulled on a cord that hung around her neck and a leather pouch came out from under her dress. She unbuttoned it and withdrew two polished stones. They were the size of a fingernail. "This is what I want." She placed a white stone on her right knee. "This is what I need." She placed a pink stone beside the white one. "Everything that's on my knee is part of my story." She reached into her pouch, pulled out a rough grey stone, and placed it on her left knee. "This stone belongs to someone else. Dig?"

"Sure." I shrugged.

"Okay. So, without picking up the grey stone put it on my right knee."

"I can't."

"Right. The only way you can is by asking me to put it there. It's my choice to pick up the grey stone."

"Yes, but, what if...?"

"No matter what you do. I still don't have to pick up that grey stone."

"What if she gets really angry at me?"

"Her anger belongs to her. You don't own it."

We continued to talk but I was getting so tired that I couldn't stop yawning. 

"Thank you, Windy." Yawn. "I think I can go to sleep now." Yawn.

As we said goodbye, Windy left me with a question--is my friendship with Becky worth the energy I'm spending on it? Then the unicorn came, I climbed on and crossed over to my side of the wall.


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On this blog in August...

Every Sunday and Wednesday in August
from Sunday, August 1 to Wednesday, August 25
I will continue to publish installments of 
The Other Side

Sunday, August 29
Book Review
Skinny Legs and All
Tom Robbins