Family Visit

I tried to stop them. I told them, “It’s not what it looks like.”

They dragged him out to the front yard. I pulled on their shirts, but they didn’t listen, didn’t relent. They were always stronger than me, even when I was the one that was a foot taller than them. My mother pulled me away, either to protect me or to let them hurt him. My father didn’t join my brothers, but he didn’t intervene either. The neighbors drew their curtains closed, deciding to not let this ruckus ruin their Thanksgiving dinner.

He had no chance to explain, not that they would have listened. I had tried my best, but there wasn’t enough makeup in the world to hide my black eye. Once he hit the ground, he only emitted grunts with every kick.

When they were done with him, they marched back inside. He stayed curled up for another minute or two before he slowy got back up on his feet. Blood had run down his face and began to dry on his chin and clothes. Grass, dirt, and footsteps covered his torn pants and jacket. He hobbled to his car, and I anxiously watched as he drove off without me.

The next day, he called my parent’s house. I couldn’t overhear what was said.

On Sunday, my youngest brother had insisted on driving me home, and when I saw the spare apartment key on the small table, I fell into my brother’s arms and cried. Sometimes things are exactly what they look like.

Copyright 2021 Zee Weasel
Picture ‘House Up High’ by Dara

About the story: Based on a writing prompt on Secret Attic that required the use of the sentence “It’s not what it looks like.”

Home Videos

“That’s gotta hurt!”

He says it every single time. When someone falls down a staircase, runs into a sign, gets hit in the face with a soccer ball, slips on ice, or falls victim to drunken over-confidence. With every bruise and broken bone shown on screen, he repeats the line like a catchphrase. Every. Single. Time. 

When I sit on the couch next to him, and he watches compilation after compilation of Epic Fails — our generation’s version of America’s Funniest Home Videos — he jolts back, pulls his hands to his chests, holds his breath, and repeats his line. All the other times, he stays silent. It’s exhausting.

I wonder if he genuinely feels for the people in these videos or if it’s only a reflex, like involuntary laughter. When the clip finishes, he lets out a deep guttural laugh and prepares himself for the next.

Maybe I need to make my own video. Maybe he needs to see me on the screen to believe I am hurting. He might even jolt, pull his hands to his chest and hold his breath when he sees it from his spot on the couch. I’m certain he will say his line. I wonder if he will realize what he is seeing or if he will stay silent. At that point, I won’t know because I will be gone.

He will tell his friends I just left him. There was no warning sign. Gone from one day to the other. They’ll believe him, see his pain, and console him. They might even say, “That’s gotta hurt!”

Copyright 2021 Zee Weasel
Photo ‘fail’ by Joe Zaizar III

About the story: Based on a writing prompt on Secret Attic that required the use of the sentence “That’s gotta hurt!”.

Broken Bones

Javier steered his little rowboat around the airplane’s wing. It stuck out of the shallow water like a tall white rock, smoothed by the ocean’s waves. A man sat opposite of him, wrapped in Javier’s thin wool blanket. The man stared between his feet with glazed-over eyes. Javier had pulled him out of the cold waters just moments before.

Suitcases, pillows, and clothing were bobbing on the water all around them. The air smelled of fuel and smoke. A few bold seagulls flew overhead, looking for anything edible amongst the flotsam.

“You know, I had a feeling something bad might happen today,” Javier told the man as he kept rowing through the debris.

The man didn’t react. Javier often talked to himself when he was out here to fish.

“I sometimes have these…” he paused, trying to find the right word, “premonitions.”

A body floated face-down against the side of the boat. It wore a navy-blue suit. Javier winced as he gently pushed it away with one of his oars, dislodging the dead person’s wig in the process. It floated off like a separate, hairy casualty.

“I get this feeling and my left hand tingles.” He held up his hand with the unnaturally bent fingers towards the man. “Dropped a large shipping crate on it. Broke all the bones. Now, when something bad happens, it starts tingling. Like it knows something I don’t. Tingled just before the freak storm we had last summer, the one that toppled my cousin’s boat. He almost drowned.”

“I felt it tingle today, but” Javier scanned the chaos around him, “I didn’t see that coming.”

Copyright 2021 Zee Weasel
Photo ‘floating’ by mhobl

About the story: Based on a writing prompt on Secret Attic that required the use of the sentence “I didn’t see that coming.”

Have you seen my dog?

My husband is of no help. I’ve been looking everywhere for him. My dog, not my husband. He bit him once if you can believe it. My dog did, not my husband. Bit the tip off his little finger right off. Then he ate the damn thing. His finger, not my husband. He just barks at the TV all day. My husband, not the dog. No wonder he’s all stressed out. My dog, not my husband. That’s why he bit him, you see? Always complains that I feed the dog better than him. I told him he has a sensitive stomach. My dog has, not my husband. My husband eats hotdogs by the pack and drinks beer by the keg. Bought him an artisan sausage once. My husband, not the dog. Asked me what an artisan sausage was. Told him I didn’t know. He just gave it to the dog. Then he shit all over the carpet and the couch. My dog, not my husband. Ended up having to throw it out. The carpet, not my dog. People tell me my husband looks like my dog. I think he’s uglier. My husband, not my dog.

Copyright 2021 Zee Weasel
French Bulldog Photo by freepik

Screaming Eagle

The elegant sound of a string quartet reverberated through the imposing ballroom. Priceless paintings were hanging from its walls, and a dazzling crystal chandelier glistened above. The ornate molding reminded her of the family visit last summer when she had toured Independence Hall. Dozens of tables had been set with meticulous attention to detail. The wine glasses and silverware were polished to sparkling perfection, only outdone by the breathtaking evening-gowns and custom-tailored tuxedos of those seated. Sommeliers suggested, waiters waited, and everyone buzzed between tables like busy bees. On one of these insular tables amidst all the glitz and glamour sat she, in the company of hedge fund managers, famous actors, and board directors of companies she had never heard of before.

Read more “Screaming Eagle”

People Like Barbara

I admit it. I buy used books. Sometimes they are out of print, so I have to. Sometimes it’s just too good of a deal to pass up. Often they contain notes and highlights, remnants of those who came and read before me. Some of them (curse them!) have covered entire pages in neon-colored highlighter, and some underline entire paragraphs with pens in squiggly, uneven lines. The more sensible of them use pencils. They write with a light touch in the margins, as if not to disturb the words on the page.

Then there are people like Barbara, who stake their claim on their book by writing their name in big, bold letters on the first page. They underline, cross out, draw lines up and down, and all around the paragraphs. Barbara also had a bad habit of writing out her every thought in the margins. For example, next to sentences that she thought funny, she wrote funny. Thank you, Barbara; I might have missed it. But then there was this note: I’ve always wondered about eating yourself. Would you be getting fat, or would you disappear?

I can’t help but wonder if she ever found an answer to her question. I wonder if it kept her awake at night. Did she think about it while doing dishes or drinking coffee? While violating another book? While she was making love to her partner? Or her secret lover?

I wonder how she is doing.

I might never get an answer to that.


Copyright 2021 Zee Weasel