Stories to Read When You're Bored and the Moon is Out or Not

By Taybrook Mills


01

Unfortunately, Wilfred did not know she was stepping on a blue ringed octopus. The tide pool was particularly warm, and the starfish she held was gently sucking on her palm. Wilfred thought that she would like to name him Zany. When started school again next year she would ask the fifth grade teacher if he could be the class pet. Unable to escape under the weight of Wilfred’s foot, the blue-ringed octopus reached his poisoned beak into the soft flesh of her sole. The tetrodotoxin quickly entered her bloodstream, almost immediately paralyzing her foot. As she fell, Wilfred thought of the time that she had stood on a nail at her Uncle’s farm last summer. They had gone to the center and Wilfred had seen a wild dingo through the window of a tour bus near Uluru. He had walked right by her window as the bus turned onto a dirty two lane highway. She remembered feeling like she didn’t belong there, in the dry, red dust. Her right arm fractured right above the elbow as it impacted with the harsh volcanic rock of the tidepool, Zany the starfish flying into oblivion. As her muscles continued to freeze, Wilfred felt like she was sinking into the ocean. She thought about playing at Brighton Beach as a little girl, the soft waves lapping at her feet. She could hear them coming closer, coming to cover her like a blanket. Her breath shortened as she saw the painted beach boxes and her Mother running to see her. The tide had already come in for Wilfred, she couldn’t hear as her mother screamed or feel her hands as they held her face. Wilfred slowly drifted deep into the ocean, and she almost let go of her breath as mermaids swam up to greet her. Meanwhile the commotion in the tide pool was too much for the tiny mother octopus. As the waves slowly lapped over the edge she jetted out, abandoning her nest to follow Wilfred into the deep.

2

Have you ever laid in bed at night and wondered, how did I get here? Not how did you get in bed, like whether you climbed in the right or the left side, or whether your bed was made, or your sheets were all bunched up in the corner and you had to throw them over your girlfriend, and whether you sleep holding each other on your side, or if you lie separately, or if you sleep in a bed alone, seeing the moon outside your window, only it’s the feeling of the moon, its bright gaze reflecting off of the glinting shutters and the shadow on your wall in front of you is a UPC code, that if you scanned it it would read, $599, in flashing red numbers, and you hate your apartment and you wish it had more than this fan, and in the hot summer nights the air literally sucks all of the water from your body that you have been storing and creates oceans for bacteria on your face from which there is little to no escape and you wake in the morning and there is the sun.

3

Have you ever wondered, if you were floating (or flying) through space, whether you would have to have a spaceship, or whether you could exist in some kind of form beyond what we know? That in all of those billions of stars out there, there might be someone who understands exactly who you are, and they’re probably on the same planet as you, and you can’t fucking find them?

4

Have you ever said fuck you to someone, not because you really meant it, like I hate you, I hope you die, but because you were so frustrated, you didn’t know how else to say what you meant? Like, fuck you I can’t explain why I got this fucking tattoo, or I don’t know why I want to have meaningless sex with all of these strangers, not because I dislike you, not even that I don’t want anyone else telling me what to do. Like fuck you, all I want is for us to find a way to shrink into small people and ride on a duck’s back, like it was a giant boat, nestled in the feathers, far away from these responsibilities of tending the llamas on the steep Andes, fuck you.

5

On Sunday Larry walked to the corner of the block to Sander’s Magic Bakery. Sander’s had the best, most unique donuts in all of Brooklyn, but he didn’t go there for the donuts. If she wasn’t there, he would just get a coffee, and maybe read the paper. But if she was, he would wait in line, taking his time to meticulously pick out what he thought were the most obscure and interesting donut choices just so he could talk to her. He would gaze into her eyes, hoping she could hear the message he had for her. ‘I know you don’t know me, but I love you. If only you could know how wonderful it feels to know you exist.’

She would smile back at him and tilt her head. Larry took this as a good sign, but he was confused whether she had gotten the whole message or if she was just nice. As Larry stood before the bakery display today he felt extra good about his chances. He had decided that his tactics weren’t working. He was going to talk to her. Larry felt that the Jalapeno Cherry Berliner seemed to give him the best chance to appear cultured.

“Have you been to Berlin?” Larry asked, a little too loudly.

“What?” She asked.

“To learn to make the Berliner?” He said, realizing that he wasn’t actually in a donut shop, but wading through the thick muck of a dark swamp.

“Oh, haha, no, I haven’t been to Berlin, but the Berliner is actually called Pfannkuchen in Berlin,” She smiled at him, “Is that what you want?”

“Oh,” Larry stuttered, he felt his plan had backfired as he began to sweat, “No, I mean, yes three Pfannkuchen please.”

The girl covered her mouth as she giggled and began to pick out his donut. Larry was sure that the skin on his face was starting to burn and he thought that he would like to press it against the glass to cool off. ‘But then,’ he thought, ‘She would have to clean the grease of my face off of the glass, and she would think it was disgusting.’ Larry looked up to see the donut girl staring at him. “Are you getting the usual dozen, sir?” She asked. Larry’s mind stumbled, he usually planned his donut choices perfectly.

“I think you don’t have to call me sir,” Larry managed to say, much to his own chagrin.

“You think I don’t have to, but you’re not sure?” She smiled at him, mischievously.

“Umm no, I mean, my name is Larry.” Right then Larry wished his name was Sean, or David, something other than Larry.

“Hi Larry, I’m Susie.” She looked back at the donuts, “If you’re looking for something really exotic, we have a new donut that only special people know about. I figure since you’re always in here, and you seem to like the strange donuts, you should try this.” Susie handed him a donut held in thin brown paper. Larry took it, his thumb touching hers. The donut inside was shiny and round and it was covered in what looked like tiny metal shavings and little chunks of black rubber. Larry had only been this excited once before, when he had been hit in the face by a homerun at the 1977 world series when he was 10.

6

Do you remember when you said I love you and it never hurt like there was nothing you could do wrong and there weren’t small armies of Rhinoceri travelling under your skin delivering tiny bumps to your arms and causing mass hysteria within your bowels and the various lower extremities of the abdomen?

7

Before I start, I’d like to explain that there is absolutely nothing wrong, the things that you feel are only there to provide flavor for your life, but ultimately you are insignificant and everything that you do is merely the random movements of bacteria and cells magnified. The importance we place on events, circumstance, circumcision, sassafras, symbolism or Spiñata are all constructed by ourselves and our cultures. Now that that is clear I can begin my story.

Spiñata (the t is pronounced like a hard rolling r) is the place where we exist simultaneously in the moment, the now. There is no escape from it other than through ignorance and lack of awareness, but it exists regardless. This is the most powerful place in which one can exist, and if one is able to realize the full meaning of being in Spiñata, one could actualize anything. This act makes one a genius, and a group engaging in this activity is referred to as Genii in Spiñata. Four Genii in Spiñata sat, understanding the depth of time and space, and in it their miniscule place. Plants grew long and fast from the floor, their roots connecting intricate pathways under the door.

8

I told her with my hands to sit down next to me. Her skin was hot under her dress and I had to slowly pull my hand away to prevent the skin from peeling off of my fingertips. She slowly turned her head to look at me, wisps of hair laughing around her neck and cheeks like chains. Her eyes were deep and murky and I felt my arms and legs weighed down as if my blood grew thicker with her stare. My willpower was strong, and I broke her spell, moving one arm to her neck and the other to the hand that lay in her lap. Our fingers interlaced and she squeezed me, indicating the message could proceed. I extended the fiber-optic tentacles from my phalanges, entering her waiting palm. Inside I navigated the intricate maze of neural pathways and felt the appropriate channel for transmission to luminance threshold. Three brightly colored moths emerged from our crawlspace to reveal the communication had been successful. I thanked her with my tongue, slowly depositing a decent tip into her pinna. The air was muggy as I stepped outside, cursing the humidity of Enceladus. I activated my hover-shoes to avoid the sharp terrain, the brilliant rise of Saturn filling the sky.

9

My father always taught me that crying was okay. I would cry when I was struck by a baseball in the groin, the hard plastic of the cup digging into my soft flesh near my pelvis. My breath sucked in when my rabbits had myxomatosis, their feverish eyes blind, dehydrated systems forcing constipated feces to cling to their quivering near dead assholes. The moisture collected fat along the lower half of my eyes like the tide as I sat in the interrogation room of the Melbourne Police Department, the hard moustache of the pig quivering in delight. I hardly hesitated to murmur foggy tears as the headmaster suspended me for breaking an upperclass-man’s jaw with a lead pipe. I batted many an eyelash as we sat stone-cold at my grandmother’s wake, the soft caress of her cigarettes in my eyes. There wasn’t a moments hesitation as I blubbered seawater from my eyes and lungs as the ocean tried to drag me to the depths. But I can’t cry now that you’re dead and I don’t know why.

10

There’s an ingrown hair in the middle of the city. From it pulses a small group of homeless mice-catchers. They collect their spare trash lids and umbilical whips and tramp through the night street. Small gangs of hermetic porch-lizards watch them, their thick eyelids pumping out hate thoughts.

11

I was thinking about our fascination with the fall, the separation of ourselves from the divine, the rib that was ripped from Adam to make Eve, and I realized that it all has to do with the moon. Apparently, and I don’t know if this is true, but it was once part of us, the Earth and we were impacted in such away that she was torn bodily from us to rest, a sentinel in the sky, playing with the waves. That time was long before our existence, but I think we miss her.

12

What do you think we meant when we held high above your heads the lost relics of your youth, cradling the cheap plastic memorabilia like treasured items to be discovered in the fallen new world? What do you think it symbolized when your parents drank to their own health, red juice dribbling down their chins onto the slanted china plates, wet with the meat from steaks? Who knew the forward thinking plans of the government, postulated over hundreds of years for the futures of those not even born? How do you go forward in these times where rhymes are as convoluted as the signs that reign over your heads, no decent hope awaiting you? What is the flavor of your redemption, thick with the taste of iron, or pale and sinewy, a watered down soup? When can you escape from this cycle of rise and fall, big and small, or is that the question of a dreamer hoping that there is a solution to a problem that has no end?

13

Granted, that was a terrible thing to say, but you should have heard what I was thinking. I pictured myself, walking up her staircase, and finding the door locked, going around to the other side where her balcony was. I thought I would climb the carport

14

It’s been 30 fucking years and it’s still a goddamn joke. They won’t let me breathe. Every fucking movement capitulated, every thought monitored and logged. The grand scheme has deteriorated into a smorgasbord of teeth and paper, chewed up balls of spit and fiber growing like a scrapheap of old cars. There’s no escape, of course. I can’t set course anywhere, I can’t do anything, I’m a prisoner in a prison with no walls. I can do whatever I like but there is no freedom. The stability of the earth is the only thing holding me down, and that even, I doubt. The bastards who surround me are all smug in their thoughts that I don’t see their rotting souls, just flapping in the fetid breeze. I have to stare into their putrid eyes, because no, I wouldn’t dare look away! Their sneering, predator faces hidden beneath will expose ear to ear teeth if I don’t match their gaze.

15

It crawled out of the swamp that was later to become New York City. Noone knew at the time that it would become the most powerful creature on Earth. There were certain things that it was impossible to know about it unless you had been there to witness its creation. Its skin, for example, had always been doughy, a sort of uncooked pastry if you will, not molded into an intricate form like a croissant or cinnamon roll, rather a lumpy mass, an amorphous blob of unmolded dough shaded roughly the hue of an old pudding left out in the sun. There were theories that its strange coloring and complexion were tied to some sort of exposure to nuclear materials, possibly Russian in origin, for no American thing had either its affinity or characteristics that was also pure to its native origin.

#short #fiction #octopus #donuts

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