Received – Issue 21 of Slice. I have a short story in it. About THE END OF THE WORLD. Check it out, if you get a chance.
Rolli’s latest book is The Sea-Wave.
Buy him a coffee.
I was wheeling through the park, just in awe of the trees, when I realized their new green leaves were actually black and yellow, and were actually bees.
Life is hard when you have no legs, but not as hard as wheeling away from angry bees.
They covered me. I was head-to-knee bees. I flopped out of my wheelchair. It felt like the bees were eating my skin.
After a few minutes, the bees flew off. But then one fat one came back and stung me in my right eye. A cat ate my left eye when I was a baby.
At the hospital, when I told the nurse with the teddy bear voice how it almost felt like the bees had eaten my skin, she threw her head back and laughed and said, “Oh, but they did eat your skin, silly! You have no skin now.”
Parents who feel guilty about having normal children with eyes and legs and skin send me presents. Every day, Gloria (the nurse with the teddy bear voice) dumps a fresh load of packages into my recovery chamber.
I appreciate these gifts. I do. At the same time, I’m hunched at the bottom of my chamber, with all this stuff on top of me, trying not to get crushed to death.
Guilt is real. It’s a real thing. It weighs about 800 pounds, I’d say. And counting.
Enjoy this story? Buy me a coffee.
My latest short story for Transition magazine. Though written years ago, and just published, the subject matter (the emotional fallout of a school shooting) is all too timely. Read “Marcellus” here.
I have a new short story (and a few drawings) in the latest issue of Transition, out now. You should send them something.
They won’t bury you.
That’s what they whisper. When they really want to hurt you.
When someone dies, when a kid dies in my town, they don’t bury you, they feed you to the Cemetery Bird. There’s no room for kids in the cemetery. If you’re poor, there’s no room, but if you’re rich, they find a way.
My mom carried him. I walked behind my mom. She walked up to the bird. My dad didn’t even go up. The bird opened up its mouth and my mom dropped my brother in. Then it closed its mouth. That was it.
They didn’t bury him. They won’t bury you.
One morning, I felt cold in a different way. My parents got nervous. The doctor talked to my parents. When they looked at me, I felt like I was on fire. Though I was so cold.
Every day, I try to feel okay. I walk around with my cane a bit. I try not to think about it.
I walked past the cemetery. I looked down at my legs. They were shaking, I was so tired. I grabbed onto the cemetery gate. When I looked up, I shouldn’t have, I looked right at the Cemetery Bird. A big, pale bird like a pelican. It breathed out. It swallowed. I felt just as cold as the cemetery gate. I cried there for a long time. When I got home I was still crying.
I’m just trying to feel okay.
I want nothing more than to smell these roses.
My family. I will never see them, again. My crew. Rescue … is improbable. If I’m recovered at all, it will be frozen. My visor furred with frost. Turning and turning.
The Earth is far away. The Sun. There are no stars here. We had reached the black region, at last. The Mysteries. The journey… It took all our lives.
It took all our lives.
The roses. They’re blackened, and fragile. The petals. They’re crumbling away. One by one. They’re floating away.
The roses. Holding them is something. Some comfort. It’s something. But smelling them. If I could do no more, and in them find a last breath of sweetness…
I want nothing more than this.
My only friend is the robotic cat that helps me when I fall down. Her name is Jenny.
Well, I have big leg trouble. My one leg is twice as big as the other leg. I’ve gone through two sets of hips now because of the strain of lugging around my big leg. I put soup cans in my purse to balance things until I was accused of shoplifting.
I fall down a lot. Medication makes me dizzy. I take three pills three times a day and two other pills two times a day and this new pill once a day. Those aren’t the directions but it’s easier to remember.
Thank God for Jenny. When I fall down now and say “Jenny!” she glides right to me. She hooks her claws into my sweater and lifts me up. Once, she pulled my shirt right off and my bra. I would have been so embarrassed if I had friends!
The best thing about Jenny (except for the helping) is if I put a record on and stand her on her back legs she dances in rhythm in a stiff way. It’s not helpful but it’s sure entertaining.
The worst thing about Jenny is that at the end of the day you have to wind her up. You crank her tail till her eyes light up. It’s not a problem for me now, not a big problem, but my arthritis is catching up with me. I take glucosamine three times a day. But one of these days, I won’t be able to wind Jenny. Her eyes won’t light up. And when I fall down she’ll just sit there on her stand not moving. I’ll be rolling around on the floor, and not with laughter! You don’t laugh when you can’t reach your glucosamine.
Every night before bed, I pray that nothing happens to my Jenny. I pray for God to give me strength to wind my Jenny. I can’t afford the new Solar Jenny or the Vibrating Jenny. I’m on a very fixed income.
When I climb into bed—it’s not easy, with a big leg—and turn out the light and see her red eyes shining at the end of the hall, charged and ready, it’s such a comfort to me. I don’t mind getting up in the night because I know they’ll be there, glowing like heavenly coals.
But if I ever woke up suddenly, and only saw darkness…
God! I don’t know why I’m telling you this!