“Jump”

jump

I’ve only been to New York City once.

I drove in with my cousin. He lived in Brooklyn, working as a stunt double and he had my name. It was a lovely day. We got Creole food and took it up to the roof of his apartment complex. Down the street there was a party going on and people were shouting things like “Hey!” and “How’ve you been?”

It had been a long time since I had seen my cousin.

“How’ve you been?”

He held his Creole food in one hand as he hoisted himself up onto the ledge with the other. I walked up beside him, looked over. His feet dangled over a dizzying abyss filled with all of the faces of all of the people who might be sad if I leaned forward, just a bit more.

“Jump.”

“What?”

“I said, I’ve been good.”

“Oh.”

“Working as a stunt-man, just got into the guild.”

I backed away from the ledge. “Cool.”

There was a wall about ten feet back, beside the door, I leaned against it and opened my food. I’d never had creole food before. It was street food, so it was what it was. My cousin turned back toward the expanse, he swayed back and forth and hummed, a tune I recognized, one our mothers must both have known.

“How can you sit on the edge like that?” I asked him.

He turned, “what?”

I put my food down on the ground beside me; a fear of heights lives in the stomach and it is a bully.

“Like that,” I waved my hand at him dramatically. I lit a cigarette instead of eating, he didn’t smoke. He didn’t say anything, didn’t even look. Instead he looked down over the abyss. He shrugged.

“Why not?”

“Well, don’t you have that voice?”

“What voice?”

He rolled himself back to face me, creole food still in one hand. I wondered how I would tell people if he fell, we didn’t like each other as kids, maybe they’d think it was me.

“The voice, you know that little voice that tells you to jump.”

He frowned. “What?”

“The voice, kind of like—like a voice-feeling, you know?”

He didn’t know, and he told me so.

“When you look down over the edge and that voice says ‘jump, just jump.’ And you get that feeling, in your lower back and then right between your eyes, but up a little and it says ‘jump.’”

He ate his food, slowly, not looking at me. Then, “are you suicidal?”

“No.”

“The why do you want to jump?”

“I don’t want to jump,” I cried.

He placed his food down on the ledge beside him. He leaned back and looked down. I backed toward the wall some more, he sat back up. He smiled.

“Sure,” he said.

The party was still going on, it was still a lovely day. One of the women from the party cried down the road, “you crazy mother fucker!”

My cousin turned and gave her a thumbs-up, but she wasn’t talking to him.

Getting Ready For Spring Cleaning

horror

**Someone asked me to try and write a horror story. I have never been a huge fan of horror and never tried to write it but, well, here it is:

 

I only felt fear once in my life. My brother woke me from the other room. He was screaming. I got up and ran, I got there only a moment before my parents. He was crying, shaking.

“Someone was trying to strangle me!” he cried. My mother sat on the edge of his bed, held him. My father led me back to my room.

“It’s okay,” he told me, “it was just a bad dream.”

I tried to sleep, couldn’t. Thirty minutes might have passed, or maybe I slept. I was woken by my mother.

“Sweetie,” she shook me. I felt her there before she shook me, but kept my eyes closed. She shook harder. I opened my eyes.

“Were you in your brother’s room?” she asked. I frowned up at her. I looked around, my father was standing at the door.

“No,” I told her. “No, I was sleeping. Is he okay?”

“He’s fine, just had a bad dream. Go to sleep.” She kissed me on the head, just where my hair starts, as she always did. They left, talking low. I didn’t sleep well.

The next night it happened again, the screaming. My parents made it there first this time. They all turned when I walked in. They didn’t say anything. My father walked me back to my room, left me there without a word.

The next day, I saw my brother once, in the kitchen, his wouldn’t look at me or talk to me. As he walked away I saw bruises around his neck, he was crying.

My parents came to me in the afternoon, sat me down.

“You can’t go into your brother’s room at night,” they told me.

I looked from one to the other, confused. “I don’t,” I told them, honest.

“Okay, well your brother says it’s you.”

I frowned. “Me, what?”

My father spoke now, “he says you’ve been going into his room, and–well, attacking him.”

I laughed, mostly because my brother is a year older and twice my size. They didn’t laugh. I began to cry, uncontrollably. My mother came over and put her arms around me.

“I wouldn’t,” I tried to sob.

My mother kissed me, “of course not.”

That night it happened again. Then, again. After the fourth night my mother slept in bed with me. The next day her and my father told me I’d be sent to therapy. She slept in my bed every night for a week, I talked to the therapist twice that week. At the end of it, I was allowed to sleep alone. I woke up in the middle of the night, unable to breathe. I opened my eyes and my brother was there, sitting on the edge of my bed, his hands around my neck.

I looked into his eyes, there was something different, they looked cleaner. It was then that I felt the only real fear I’ve ever felt. I felt it just before everything went dark around the edges. It was only then that he let go. I coughed for a long time. He sat and watched. By the time I finished coughing I was already crying.

“I just wanted to see,” he told me, his eyes no longer clean.

He leaned in and kissed me where my hair met my forehead. He left.

I screamed.

My brother got there just after my parents. My mother sat on the edge of the bed and held me. My father stood by the door, at a nod from my mother he went and took my brother out.

“He tried to strangle me!” I cried into my mother’s shoulder. I said it over and over. She didn’t say anything. I pulled away, looked up at her and realized, she was crying too.

 

Diet Anthropophobia

anthrophobia

I always thought as a child, that somehow, growing bigger would make me less afraid of things grabbing me in dark stairwells. I realize how wrong I was, running up to my apartment in a one-sided game of tag with the devil. I get to the door, through it. Locked.

I take a panicked sigh of relief. I catch my breath.

“We live on the second floor.”

I turn. N is standing there, watching me, tea in hand.

“So?” I say, defensive.

“You need to quit smoking.”

I glare at him, “well you’re drinking tea at one in the morning.”

“So?”

“So,” I look around, evening my breath, “so, no one is perfect!”

He smiles, “Mhm.”

I start taking off my boots, coughing. “Look, I just–” I look back at the devil behind the door. “Right,” I decide, “fine, soon.”

N drinks his tea in response. I get my boots off.

“So?” he asks, motioning to the other room.

“Yeah, coming.”

I follow him into my room.

“You rearranged,” he notes, “again?”

“It’s a habit. I used to do it when I was a kid and couldn’t sleep. Drove my brother nuts.”

N walks to where his cigarettes sit on the windowsill. He slips one out.

“Given up on quitting?” I ask.

He frowns. “No, these are yours.”

I look at them. “Uh-huh. So I smoke lights now?”

“Apparently,” he says, lighting the cigarette.

I pull my own from my pocket, reds. We sit by the window. There is a bistro across the street, a mart beside it; bar beside them. A man stumbles past, he looks behind him periodically as he goes.

“Are you still afraid of anything from when you were a kid?” I ask.

N watches the stumbling man fade from view.

“You mean like tall people?”

I shrug. “Maybe. I mean like, being afraid of the dark.”

N doesn’t laugh. He looks up, it isn’t that dark. The sun will be back out in an hour.

“People,” he says.

“People?”

“Yeah.”

“Like crowds?”

He shakes his head. “Just, people.”

“Like, people in the dark?” I ask, hopeful.

N watches another man pass. A more determined man. He sighs.

“No. Just people.”