Monthly Archives: December 2012

2012: A Brief Retrospective

 I’m not going to lie. I’m kind of surprised that I’m writing this, that I and the blog are both still here. I didn’t know what I was getting into when J. Augustus and I first conceived of the blog. We’d talked about writing alternating stories, about serial pieces, about collaborative efforts. All of it sounded fantastic and fun, and when we started out, we were both eager to see what we could do. We were going to update three times a week, M-W-F, just like a webcomic, and we were going to amass thousands of fans, and book and movie deals would follow, and it would all be super awesome. Then reality set in, and we realized that the schedule was untenable. Personal conflicts kept J. Augustus from continuing on with the blog. In early March, I found a job and the schedule had to be changed so I wouldn’t go insane.

It’s been an interesting year, with some hiccups and some heartbreak, some missed posts and a few weeks of glorious consistency sprinkled throughout. I’ve learned a lot about writing for an audience (even if it’s a small audience.) I’ve been forced to balance my time, my obligations, and my interests in a way I’ve never had to before. I like to think that I’ve grown as a writer, but any writer but the most cynical hardass will tell you that their style’s constantly evolving and growing as they experience more of what life has to offer.

I’d like to offer up a few thank yous before I go on.

Thank you to everyone who followed me this past year. Without fail, it blew my mind every time to see that someone liked the writing on Stupendous Stories enough to want to get an email about every update.

Thank you to everyone who liked my posts this year. It’s such a small thing to click “Like,” but it means the world to an author shouting into the great void that is the Internet.

Finally, thank you to my beautiful, wonderful girlfriend. Whether it was putting up with me as I insisted on meeting a self-imposed deadline, letting me know what she thought worked and didn’t work in a story, or else telling her friends and family about my blog as if it were a real calling and not just a senseless hobby, I wouldn’t have found the motivation to keep going without her. Thank you, baby.

So, what does next year hold in store? Well, it’s my intention to take the month of January off from writing for Stupendous Stories. There will still be content posted once a week, but it’ll be background material on previously published stories. Author’s notes, that sort of thing. I need some time to recharge my batteries and work on other projects. Like finishing the novel I posted in November and editing the stories I posted this past year. It’s my intention to compile everything into an anthology and make it available for free on Smashwords, Kindle, iTunes, etc. Why? Why not?

After January, I’ll be sticking with the current update schedule, meaning I’ll be back with something all new on February 2nd. There’ll be new characters to meet, new art-inspired stories, more tales about returning characters, and God willing, some more visually stimulating content. Maybe even some stories by other writers. Hopefully it’ll be neat!

So there you go. Thank you for reading, have a happy new year, and be sure to stop by and see what 2013 brings us. Thank you, and good night!

– Thomas Cavazos


Becoming

My teeth started falling out earlier this week. I pulled a loose tooth from my mouth and let it drop into the sink, and then another and another, one by one. I ran my tongue over the empty spots where they had been, tasting blood and trying to imagine what I was becoming.

* * *

Things started going wrong the day my wife began to look alien to me, her cheeks too soft, her chin too sharp, her eyes like a cat’s in the night. I sat across from her at our dining room table, a plate of eggs before me, toast and a grapefruit in front of her. I tilted my head side to side, until my ear was practically resting on one shoulder and then on the next. I studied her, watching the movements of her muscles, and I could not for the life of me decide if someone had replaced her with a marionette or not when I hadn’t been watching.

“Baby,” she said. “What are you looking at?”

Nothing. Nothing.

The eggs tasted strange in my mouth, sulfurous and rubbery and vaguely nutty. Why should scrambled eggs cooked in butter taste nutty?

“Aren’t you hungry?”

No. My stomach’s upset.

I stood up, scraped the eggs into the garbage disposal, and excused myself to the bedroom. Inside, I shut the door, walked into the master bath, shut that door, and vomited as quietly as I could into the toilet. They say that cyanide has a taste like that of almonds.

I spent the rest of the day in bed, alternating between shaking uncontrollably with a fever and running my hands over every inch of my body, trying to feel for anything out of the ordinary.

The hair on my arms and my legs felt thinner, but I couldn’t be sure. My skin felt patchy, scaly, but maybe it was my imagination. My teeth hurt. Everything hurt. My wife came into the room, sat on the edge of the bed, and gently stroked my hair. She whispered softly to me, but I paid no attention to her words. I just sat there feeling the blankets and bedsheets pulled taut against my body and I thought, Oh God, it’s a prison, she’s imprisoning me, get off.

But all I could do was moan and roll over. She said something else, and then she left.

I spent the next few days existing in the spaces between the bed and the bathroom. My wife had work and said she couldn’t risk catching whatever I had, so she slept on the couch in the living room. She still came in to check on me from time to time, but she never lingered too long or looked to closely, so she didn’t see the changes that were happening.

One day I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror and I saw that my hair was thinning, not just on my head but on my face as well. A few hours later, my eyelashes were gone. A few hours after that, I noticed one of my pupils had changed shape, arching up and down almost like a W.

I didn’t feel weak anymore. I didn’t feel sick. Still I stayed in bed, but only because I was frightened. I pulled the blankets over my head and tried to ignore that my skin felt as tough as leather, that when I scratched at myself my nails were as sharp as dulled knives, that the taste of blood was constantly in my mouth from biting my tongue with teeth grown pointy and jagged.

* * *

When my wife comes in to check on me, I can hear the panic in her voice. She says that I should go to the hospital, that I need to see a doctor, but I just pull the blankets tighter around me. I shout at her to leave me alone, to keep the light off. I tell her that I don’t want to see a doctor and that she shouldn’t want me to either, and she asks why, and I have no answer for her.

I have been able to control myself so far, but she smells so warm, so scared, so good.


All the World’s a Stage, Pt. 5

Yikes. Sorry about the radio silence. I blame the holidays. In any event, this concludes “All the World’s a Stage!” Be here on Saturday for a piece of flash-fiction, and come back on Sunday for a “State of the Blog” address!

Jacob was largely quiet on the drive to the nursing home. He sat with his arms crossed, a look of disinterest on his face, just as my father used to when he was a passenger in cars in his later years. I think it embarrassed him, as his eyesight began to fail him, that he couldn’t drive anymore. He would just sit there, staring straight ahead, not looking at anything, all so he wouldn’t have to deal with the fact that he could see less and less with every passing month.

“Are you ready for this?”

Jacob took a deep breath, exhaled slowly. “It doesn’t matter. I have to be.”

“We can do this another day, man. It doesn’t have to be tonight.”

“It does,” Jacob said. He turned to look at me, his eyes old and impossibly sad. “I don’t know if we’ll have another night.”

“Don’t be so negative, man. Jesus Christ.”

Jacob stared at me, annoyance written plain across his face. He shook his head and sighed, and then it was right back to silence, his eyes locked on the road.

* * *

It was late when we arrived at the nursing home. I knew that they’d be closing soon, that we wouldn’t have long for whatever Jacob had planned. Jacob stood before the door, hesitated. His back was to me, but I could tell that he was steeling himself to go inside. His hands clenched, unclenched, again and again. I’d seen this before once, when I was backstage at a performance in college and Jacob had been preparing to make his entrance. I was secondary, forgotten. All that existed now was the role, the stage, the audience.

We rode up the elevator together, but Jacob paid me no mind. His face was set like stone, eyes closed, arms crossed, head down. The elevator doors opened, and he stepped out into the second floor lobby. He strode forward with confidence, ignoring the scents and the sounds that had given him pause before. But he stopped. His head turned side-to- side, and finally he looked back over his shoulder at me. “Which way?” he asked, his voice terse and deep. I pointed. He nodded once, and took off. I followed.

He was reading the names on the doors as we went along and stopped in front of 217. He put his hand on the knob, and he turned to look at me. A change came over him, his features hardening, a weariness settling into his eyes. He didn’t look like my father to me, but the expression he woe was undeniably one of my father’s. Jacob had studied well, it seemed, and all the effort he’d put into poring over notebooks and videos were about to pay off. Jacob turned back to the door, opened it, and stepped into my mom’s room.

The smell of disinfectant was strong, overpowering even the staleness of the air, the smell of human living in a small space. Her eyes were shut. She was sleeping. But she opened them before long, sensing the presence of the stranger in her room. “Hello?”

“Hello, Marie.”

She sat up, pushing herself up with hands grown thin and bony. “Elliot?”

Jacob stepped forward, trying his best to smile. His eyes watered, and finally he covered his mouth with his hand. “Hey, baby.”

“What’s going on? What are you doing here?”

“I came to see you. I wanted to see you.” He stepped forward and kissed her on her forehead.

She smiled at that, but within a few moments she was taking a fresh survey of her surroundings and fear overtook her. “What is this place? Where am I?”

Jacob frowned, his brows furrowed. He was silent for a few moments, his eyes downcast as if he were trying to think of what to tell her. “You’re in a nursing home, Marie.” She looked up at him with confusion and fear on her face, and he gently ran his hand over her hair. “You’re sick. You’ve been sick for a while, and there’s much you’ve forgotten.”

“Will I get better?”

Jacob shook his head. My mother gasped at that, a wet choking noise that I knew from experience only heralded sobbing.

I wanted to hit him. This wasn’t how this was supposed to go. He was supposed to comfort her, not start doling out harsh truths. This was something my dad would have done, and in that sense, he was being true to character, but that wasn’t the point. The point was to make her feel better, not torture her before she passed on.

Jacob took her hand, her skin wrinkled and thin and pale against his own. He squeezed her hand and he smiled.

“Don’t cry, Marie. We’ve been apart for so long, but soon we’ll be together again. I promise. You just need to be strong.”

“But I—“

Jacob leaned forward and wrapped his arms around my mom. “No buts, Marie. Be strong.”

Slowly my mother brought her arms up and wrapped them around my friend, pulled him close. “Okay, Elliot. Okay. I will. I will.”

“Good.” Jacob stood up, tears running down his cheeks. He sniffed. He forced himself to smile. “I’ve got to go now, but I’ll be with you, okay? We’ll be together again.”

She nodded. Jacob turned to leave and set his hand on the door when my mom called out to him. “Elliot?”

Jacob paused, but he didn’t turn back around to face my mom. “Yes, Marie?”

“You’re dead.”

My breath caught in my throat. Jacob didn’t move, didn’t even flinch. Instead, he just said, “Yes, Marie.”

“But you came back.”

“Yes.”

“But you’re not the same.”

At that Jacob’s cool demeanor cracked. His shoulders slumped, his head dropped, and his body seemed to tremble ever so slightly. He brought his hands up this eyes and rubbed them. Finally, he said, “I’m not. And I’m sorry for the way that I used to be.”

My mom took a deep breath and sighed. She shut her eyes and sank back into her bed. “That’s fine. I forgive you.”

Within a few minutes, she was snoring softly. Jacob opened the door and stepped outside, and I just stood there, watching my mom sleep, until I heard Jacob vomit in the hallway and I rushed to find him.

* * *

Jacob fell sick almost the instant he walked out of my mom’s bedroom. I had to all but carry him back to the car, and he asked in a week voice to go back to his apartment. He collapsed into bed and was asleep almost instantly. He was running a fever. Not knowing what else to do, I slept on his couch, his bedroom door open in case he called out for help in the middle of the night.

He was better the next morning, but still weak, as if recovering from a particularly nasty stomach virus. He was able to pull himself out of bed and drag himself into the living room, though.

“Hey, man. Thanks for getting me back to my place.”

“Yeah, no problem. You want breakfast?”

He shook his head. “I don’t think I could keep anything down. Maybe I’ll make some toast or something later.” I just nodded, and Jacob stood there, staring at the floor. He looked back up after a few moments. “So, how’d it go?”

I frowned. A look of fear passed across Jacob’s face, and he just shrugged. “I don’t know, man! I barely remember anything. I remember you getting me, and driving there, and standing out in front, and the next thing I know, I’m puking my guts out into a trashcan in the hallway.”

“Jesus, man. You don’t remember anything?”

He just shook his head. “It’s like I was in the audience, watching someone else

“I think it went about as well as could be expected.”

Jacob nodded. “Was she happy?”

I smiled, as best as I was able. “Yeah. Yeah, man. I think so.”

* * *

She passed away a few days later. They told me it was peaceful.

* * *

Things moved quickly after that. Jacob came to the funeral, but he sat in the back and didn’t say much, as he was still recovering. It surprised me when he came to the reception. What surprised me more was that as tired and weak as he was, Jacob was still somewhat social. In fact, he was eagerly trotting out his lines about being an actor, about becoming another character, about how really getting into a role could be like giving oneself over to another character. Like becoming another person. Like possession. Such nonsense.

I mean, as a practical person, I have to disregard such nonsense. I have to.


All the World’s a Stage, Pt. 4

My initial reaction was to say no, but Jacob was quick to point out that I didn’t have any real reason to forbid it. The house was empty, had been, save for my occasional trips out to collect the mail and water the plants and tend to all the little things that needed tending to. “I want to get back into the house,” he said. “It’s essential, man. I’ve got to have days like he used to. Get up, roll out of his bed, use his bathroom, cook in his kitchen.”

“I don’t know, man…”

“Come on, what does it matter? It’s not like either of your folks are in any kind of a position to care.”

I frowned. “Fine. Fuck it. Whatever. Do what you have to do.”

I went by his place to drop off the keys and that was that. We didn’t speak for days afterwards.

With no word from Jacob, I spent more time visiting my mom. I read to her, asked her about her childhood, tried to engage with her without bringing up who I was or why she was in a hospital bed. She asked about her husband, and I had no answers for her. I asked about my father, and she told me stories from when he was my age, from before they’d had me, from when they were both young. I listened for as long as she was willing to talk, and when she grew tired or disinterested, I asked her if there was anything I could get her before I left.

She never said yes.

Time passed. Finally, I called Jacob one evening after I’d gotten home from work. His phone rang, and just when I was ready to give up, I heard his voice say, “Yes?” I frowned. That was how my dad used to answer his phone. Was that a coincidence, or did Jacob see my father do that in a video or something. “Well? What is it?” he went on.

I couldn’t decide if I wanted to be civil or not. My sense of civility won out, even if my patience was quickly fraying.

“How’s it going, man? What’s the word?”

Jacob snorted. “Weren’t you raised to speak more clearly than that?”

I sighed, rolled my eyes. “I take that mean to you’re in character. Do you feel like you’re ready?”

There was silence on the other end of the line. I could hear Jacob breathing, was just about to repeat the question when he answered softly, “Yeah. Yeah, I’m ready. Let’s go see your mother.”

“Okay. What day works for you?”

“Let’s go now.”

I blinked in surprise at Jacob’s eagerness, as well as the simple directness of the order he’d just given me. There was no mistaking it; it had definitely been an order. “Are you sure? It’s getting late, man. We don’t have to do this tonight.”

“No, it has to be now. It has to be tonight.” He paused, took a deep breath, exhaled. “I don’t want to wait any longer.”

“Alright. Do you want to meet there or–”

“Come get me. I’ll be waiting for you.” With that he hung up.

“Presumptuous bastard,” I hissed at the phone, and they I left to get him.

I arrived at my parents’ house to find it a mess. There were takeout bags and cartons and boxes all over the living room and the dining room. In the kitchen, dirty plates covered in half-eaten meals lined the sink. I could only imagine what the bedroom must have looked like.

“Jesus, man. I know there’s no one else here, but try not to turn the place into a sty, huh?”

Jacob just shrugged. “You know I’ve never been good at keeping the place up without your mother around.”

I stared at Jacob blankly. It was true that my father had been decidedly lax about housecleaning when my mom had gone to visit my aunt or my grandparents. “Are you going to be doing this the entire night? Talking to me in character or whatever?”

Jacob arched an eyebrow and snorted. I sighed.

“Well, you’ve nailed the surliness. Alright, well, whatever. Let’s get going.”


All the World’s a Stage, Pt. 3

We went to my parents’ home after seeing my mother, and I gave Jacob box upon box of my dad’s things. It was strange. All of this was in service of a goal I had come up with on my own, a goal I believed in, but it was still strange. By the time this was all complete, Jacob would know my dad better than me., my parents better than me. But it was worth it. I had seen the sadness in my mother’s face, heard the pain and the desperation in her voice. The monetary cost of hiring Jacob, the emotional cost to my dignity and my family’s secrets was all worth it just to see my mom happy one last time.

Jacob started looking over everything then and there. He sat down at the dining room table, the same dining room table I had grown up eating at, and he pored over my family’s history. “How long?” I finally asked.

“To create the character–” Jacob stopped mid-sentence, looked me in the eyes. He cleared his throat. “To capture the basic essence of your dad, a few days. To flesh it out enough that you could pose me a question and I could answer it as that char— as your dad, a few days more.” He paused, stared off into space as if thinking. “To do a good enough job acting that I could convince your mom… well, that all depends.”

“On what?”

“On how scrambled her brains are, for starters.”

I took a slow, deep breath. “You want to try rephrasing that?”

Jacob crossed his arms and frowned. “Well, fuck, man! It’s true! You’re asking me to convince a woman I’m her dead husband. If she had all her faculties, this wouldn’t work at all.”

I snort in disgust, gesture with my hand for us to move on. “Fine, fine. Whatever. What else?”

“I don’t know. Could be a few days, could be a few weeks.” He went silent for a few moments, idly flipping through the journal open before him. “I could test it on her, I suppose.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, she doesn’t remember things from day to day, right? So once I’m confident I’ve got the part down, I could try this every day, no?”

I thought of my mom lying in bed, the look of confusion on her face. Or worse than that, a look of horror. What if she became agitated? How could that end? And to subject her to that again, day after day after day? “No. No, that isn’t acceptable. I want this done once, and I want it done perfectly.”

Jacob shrugged. “Suit yourself. I’m going to have to test my material on you, then.” He glanced down at the books on the table, back up at me. “I can take these, right?”

“Of course.”

Jacob nodded, began putting the journals and albums back into the boxes they’d been in. “I’ll let you know once I have a better sense of how long this will all take. Of course, if things change and I start to run out of time—“

I cut Jacob off with a wave of my hand. “My mom’s not going anywhere.”

“Well, right, but if things change—“

“My mom. Is not. Going anywhere.”

Jacob stared at me for a moment in silence. He frowned, his mouth arched in annoyance, but his expression slowly changed. Sadness filled his eyes. Pity.

I looked away.

“Of course she isn’t,” I heard him say. “Of course.”

* * *

The next few days passed by uneventfully. I went into work, sat at my desk, went home, tried to distract my mind until I fell asleep, and repeated the process again and again. I began to question what I was doing. Jacob’s words rang true, the ones about testing his act on my mother again and again. Why was I even bothering with this? Even if he could imitate my father perfectly, even if it made my mother happy, it would all be lost in a day or two at the most.

Time and again I considered calling Jacob and canceling the entire affair, but he would always call me first with some new question or some new insight. “What was your dad’s favorite meal? Did you know your dad almost served in the army but was rejected because of his asthma? Did you know your dad and your mom broke up three times before they finally got together permanently? Did your dad date any other women when he and your mom were separated?”

Every round of questioning brought a fresh wave of confidence in my decision. It moved me to see Jacob approaching this task with such sincerity and passion, and I knew that I would see my mom happy one last time before the inevitable. It would be a memory I could hold onto.

A week passed. Another. Jacob called again, and this time he said something I was completely unprepared for, something that wasn’t even a question.

“I want to move into your parents’ house.”


All the World’s a Stage, Pt. 2

There was no post on Sunday, as you may have noticed. My apologies. For the rest of the year, the schedule should update normally on Tuesdays and Saturdays. This story should be complete before the year ends. Anyway, enjoy part two!

I have a favor to ask you,” I told him. “A big one.” Jacob laughed, tried to play it cool, but he hesitated. There was a moment spent imagining what the favor could be before he said yes. I wasn’t the kind of person to ask for favors very often, and if I said it was big, it was big. Still, he agreed, and we met up at a coffee shop to discuss things. He was dressed in a t-shirt and jeans since it was his day off, and I was in a suit, having just come from the office. “I’ll treat,” he said, and I just nodded and sat at our table. He came back with two mugs, set one before me, sat down, said, “Alright, what’s going on?”

“My mom’s dying.”

Jacob frowned. This was nothing he didn’t already know. “Has she gotten worse?”

“Some. She doesn’t remember me now. Not even as a baby.”

“Jesus. I’m sorry, man.”

I shook my head, stopped myself. “Thank you. It’s hard, but once she forgot me as an adult, I came to terms with it. But she’s been acting like she’s only got one thing left she wants to do, and then she’s going to let go.” I took a sip of my coffee. I might not have had the flair for theatrics that Jacob did, but years upon years of friendship with the man had instilled in me a reasonably decent sense of pacing and the dramatic. “She’s been asking about my dad.”

He arched an eyebrow. “What have you been telling her?”

I shrugged. “It wouldn’t do any good to tell her that he’s dead. She wouldn’t remember from one day to the next, and it’d just traumatize her. In her mind, it’d be her handsome, strong, twenty-something husband that died, not a seventy year old man with cancer. So I don’t tell her anything. I just say, ‘Oh, he stepped out for a bit. Don’t worry, he’ll be back as soon as he can,’ and she just says, ‘Oh, okay. Thank you, Doctor.’”

Jacob frowned at that, reaches out across the table, pats my hand. I shrugged again. “I’m really sorry to hear all of this, man. What’s the favor? What can I do for you? Anything, you name it.”

“I have a role I want you to play.”

It took a moment for the meaning of my words to sink in. Jacob’s eyes went wide. “Dude, no. What? No.”

I just nodded. Jacob frowned. “I don’t know, man. This doesn’t seem right. I don’t know if I can do this.”

I sipped my coffee. “You can do this. You can absolutely do this. Whether or not you’re willing to is a different matter, but I have no doubt you can do this.” I reached into my pocket, pulled out my wallet, set an photo of my dad on the table before Jacob. “You look like him, don’t you think?”

Jacob picked up the picture, looked it over, shrugged. “Maybe a little.”

“I think you do. Enough so that with some make up and some practice, you’ll become him. Isn’t that what you always said acting was about? Becoming someone else?”

Jacob frowned. “This is weird. How’d you come up with this idea anyway?”

I didn’t say anything. I looked down into my mug of coffee, the heated porcelain sides warming my hands. They were cold. I wasn’t sure why my hands were cold. “You haven’t seen her, man. It’s hard. She’s so… It’s like nothing makes her happy. But I think this will. I think she deserves to be happy one last time before she passes on.”

“She’s had a long life. A happy life. I know she has. I got to see it.”

“Well, then I think this will help put her at peace.” I paused. My mouth felt suddenly dry. I took a sip of the coffee. “I’ll pay you.”

“Man, I don’t need your chari–”

“This isn’t charity. I’m asking you to do this as a professional. I want you to research and build your character. I want you to have costumes, props. I want your best work, and people deserve to get compensated for their best work.”

Jacob opened his mouth as if he was about to say something, but then shut it, as if he’d thought better of it. “I’m not making any promises,” he said. “I’m not saying yes.”

I sniffed. I hadn’t expected him to put up this much resistance. It was an unusual request, I knew, but still. He was an actor, and I was asking him to act. Beyond that, he was my friend, and I was asking him for a favor. We’d been friends for years and years. I figured that he owed me that much, at least. “Well, what are you saying?”

He was silent. His hands were folded together on the table, his face angled down, his eyes locked onto something far away that only he could see. He sighed, a deep breath, his shoulders rising and falling. “I’m saying, let’s go see your mom, I guess.”

* * *

It was only a short drive to the nursing home my mom lived at. That was part of why I’d picked the coffee shop that we met at. We got there quickly, the staff greeting me as we walked past them. We got in the elevator, took it to the second floor. The smell of age greeted us when the doors opened, anti-septic and excrement in equal measure. The sounds of people talking echoed down the hallways, soft voices punctuated by the occasional cough, laugh, moan.

We stepped out of the elevator. Jacob hesitated. As he stepped into second floor lobby, he recoiled ever so slightly as if he’d been struck. He closed his eyes, and I could tell that he was taking everything in, steeling himself. I stood there waiting for him, and when he opened his eyes again, I gestured with a nod of my head for him to follow me. We walked through the winding hallways, past doors and doors, and finally we came before room 217. I turned to Jacob.

“Are you ready?”

“Yeah. Yeah, of course. Let’s do this.”

I opened the door. He went inside first, and I followed. She was asleep, thankfully. That was probably for the best.

Jacob turned to me, whispered, “Can we talk?”

“We can talk. We probably won’t wake her up, and even if we do, it won’t be a problem.”

Jacob moved around the room, looking at the personal effects she had on the nightstand, the dresser. Flowers. Stuffed animals. Photographs in frames, some new and some old. A thought occurred to me. She no longer remembered the people in the newer photographs. The frames might as well have been filled with the stock photos that they had come with for all that it meant to her.

I frowned, shook my head. There was nothing productive in such thoughts.

At last, Jacob came to stand by her bedside. She was sleeping peacefully, and I tried not to think about how thin she was underneath her blankets. If Jacob noticed, he gave no sign of it. Instead, he picked up the picture frame that rested there, a photo of my mom and my dad together when they were both young, and he just stared it. “Tell me what you have,” he said without looking at me.

“Notebooks. Diaries. Letters. Old home movies. Some clothes, even, but nothing from when he was our age.” I was silent. The room was silent, save for my mom’s gentle, rhythmic breathing. “Can you do it?”

“Yeah.”

“Will you?”

He looked up at me, his face solemn. “Yeah. I will.”


No Post, 12/8

Hello, world. There will be no post today due to other obligations, but there will be a post tomorrow and a post on Tuesday as normal. Sorry for the disappointment!


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