"Where the hell are you dammit?"
I poke my head into every room in the house looking for her. Or is it Her? Whatever. Either way she's missing and I can't find her.
"Come out come out wherever you are," I try a sing-songie voice hoping to appeal to(more) her sense of, um, hearing sing-songie voices.
She's gone. I think.
I check the backyard thoroughly, even going so far as to look underneath the pool cover. The water looks cold, murky, dirty, and full of leaves and for a moment I think I see her down at the bottom but it's just some tree limbs.
I nearly jump out of my skin when a dead bird floats by.
She may not be here now but the bird carcass lets me know she was here, however briefly.
Back into the house for another hunt. She has to be here somewhere. Why would she leave me? It's not like I've been cruel to her. Maybe I've been a little inattentive lately but she's always on my mind.
"You're always with me." I told her this so many times, I don't understand why she needs constant reassurance. It's like she doesn't believe a word I say.
I mentally count up all the ways I love her and still she stays away.
I close my eyes so tightly white spots appear in my head yet I can't even picture her hard as I try.
"Please don't be gone forever." I whisper in case she's around to hear me, she hates when I beg.
"Don't leave me." My mouth forms the words soundlessly.
I'm nothing without my muse.
I'm so freaked out I don't notice her clinging to the ceiling above me Spiderman-style looking down at me with her patented bored-now expression.(less)
I was a switchboard operator for seven months at the Mayflower Park Hotel on 4th. My first job after college. My job consisted of answering the phone. "Mayflower Park Hotel." Then directing the call, "I'll ring." My other job was to direct tourists in the lobby to postcard locations(more) like the Pike Street Market--easy—down nearby freeways--not easy. I called my sister for the not easy directions and often ending up with a line of irate tourists all secretly and not secretly hating me.
A Mrs. Mayflower existed at the time and she had it in for me too. It was dim in the hotel like an aquarium without flora, fauna or fish. When the phone didn’t ring or people didn’t need me, I got bored. I brought books to read. Switchboard operators should look like a light bulb that can switch on at any moment. I did not look at that. A messenger was sent because, Mrs. Mayflower, apparently, could not come herself. A small twitchy bus boy. "Mrs. Mayflower does not like it when you read." I stopped reading. In protest, I started wearing black. Every day. Funereal, mousy, black. I did not project an image of touristy: bright and cheery. "Mrs. Mayflower does not like it when you wear black." I couldn’t find a union for black-wearing switchboard operators. I stopped wearing black.
Months went by. In a sea of somnolence, I forgot my purpose in life. "Mayflower Park Hotel." "I'll ring." "I'll ring." One day, Stephen Sondheim called. I love him. It was a breathless moment even though Mrs. Mayflower did not like us to talk to celebrities. "I'll ring," I said reverently, and remembered what I'd majored in. Writing. Time to move on. Mrs. Mayflower liked it when I gave my notice.
The floor of the cavern stilled. My fingernails scraped the porcelain edge of the dais. Their throne rose before me, a mound of ulcerous, oozing flesh. They were twisted together in it, bones fused into each other and sprouting through gray skin from shoulders and hips.(more) Lungs flapped feebly behind exposed ribs. Intestines puddled inside their open pelvises. As I stared through the shreds of muscle holding their bellies together, one's liver absorbed the others' spleen, and immediately erupted in weeping lesions.
The floor rumbled again.
Their faces were the only truly separate things about them. On the left - a woman's green-eyed face, one eye eaten by infection, rotted teeth falling from her mouth like confetti, boils stretching her pores til they burst, to splatter her partner-
Wispy gray hair, lying flat against his skull and face. His mouth hung open, leaving small teeth punctuated by gaps visible. Where his nose ought to have had a cartilage tip, skin was pulled taut. His jaws snapped violently closed and went slack, over and over.
"You are the ones I was supposed to come see?"
"Yes, dear one. You've known us for a long time. Now let's make it formal."
"Who are you?" I stood small before their pulsing throne, nervously smoothing the silk skirt of my polka-dotted party dress.
"We're Her parents, dear. Can't you see the resemblance?"
The diseased woman lifted a a shapely leg, cracked hoof at the end of it.
"I'm hungry!" The skeletal man lifted an arm and reached toward me, phalanges peeking through shredded fingertips.
I swayed back, gasping, into a pair of strong, perfumed arms. They circled my shoulders. A manicured hand stroked my hair.
"Be nice, daddy. My holiday's over. She's mine."
Plague and Famine's smiles bored into me. They waved. (less)
Time melts and drips slowly down the wall, puddling on the floor. The air is suffocating, searing the lungs.
I look up, and the ceiling is turning slowly, by infentissimal increments.
I move to rub my eyes, and my arm is yanked back. I am strapped to a bed(more). I remember.
I can still reach my morphine button, and I press it now. I stare up at the ceiling as it continueues to spin, faster, faster now. Time is pooling around the legs of the metal hospital bed, rising higher. I turn to face the wall, and I sleep.