short story

Lovers’ Spit

“Kiss me,” he said.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t.” She said.

They were together in the living room. In daylight, the room would’ve been bright, but now deep in the night, it is pitch-black and neither he nor she could see a thing. But this was of little concern to them.

“Why not?” He asked impatiently. “You’ve kissed me before.”

“Yeah – when we were having sex.” She said.

“What makes this any different?”

“Why do you want to kiss me anyway?” She ignored his question.

He was just going to tell her to answer his question first – something she always tells him to do whenever they had an argument – but he relented. Instead, he responded by saying, “I love you.”

There was a pause before she spoke again. “I love you, too.”

Now he was annoyed. “Then why won’t you kiss me?”

“Lovers have to kiss? Why?” – he knew this was a rhetorical question, but still he answered. “Everyone else who is in love do.”

“And are we like everyone else?” She asked. “Are we?”

“No.” He said quietly.

“Exactly.” Unlike all of their previous arguments, there wasn’t the usual tone of victory in her voice, nor was there a sense of relief. They waited together in the dark. “But why don’t you want to kiss?”

It was now her time to pause. “I just dislike it as an expression of love.”

“Why?”

“Why do you love me?” She was doing it again. But once again, he answered. “You are a funny and charming person.” He whispered. “And you have the most beautiful voice I’ve ever heard.”

That made her chuckle. “So you are saying that you don’t love me because of my ‘golden complexion?’ Or because of my ‘sweet breath?’”

He protested, but she stopped him. “If you love me for what I say, then listen. You don’t have to kiss me.” She paused. “Now, let’s talk about something a little bit more pleasant, like Owner’s…”

He wasn’t ready to let it go. “That’s not the only reason. I know it isn’t. Tell me.”

Before she could answer, a loud thud came from the bedroom at the end of the hallway. They waited for the sound to pass, before she sighed and said: “You are right. There is another reason. I” – she faltered – “I don’t want to lose myself.”

“What?”

“What did you have for breakfast today?” There she goes again.

“Scrambled eggs.” He said. “What does that have to do with anything?”

“If I were to kiss you,” she ignored the question, “then wouldn’t I taste that scrambled egg?”

That made him chuckle. “Only if we do it for a really long time.”

“Not only would I taste what you ate,” she continued, “I would also taste the cigarettes you smoked behind my back. The mouthwash you used to hide the fact that you smoked. And the beer you drank after we had an argument about you and the cigarettes.

He was confused. “So?”

“Don’t you get it? I will be overwhelmed by all those tastes, all those flavours. The flavours of your life. At the same time, you would be tasting the flavours of my life. Now I love you.” He was at lost for what to do. “I love you so much. But if we kiss all the time, one day my mouth will have the stench of cigarettes, and I don’t know if I’m comfortable with that.”

As she said those words, he could almost detect a hint of a sob or two, but he couldn’t be sure because the room was dark. He wanted to hold her, but he couldn’t.

The next day, a scruffy man and the girl he picked up at the bar last night exited the bedroom.

“Nice living room you’ve got there.” The girl giggled.

“I know right,” The man couldn’t contain his gloating smile as he opened the pantry. “So want do you want for breakfast, Justine?”

“It’s Kate.” The girl walked over to where he and she were looking at each other. “Ooh… cool paintings!” The girl picked her up. “This girl was drawn with such clear lines.”

“You want it?” He was desperate for a second date.

“Sure!” She quickly unhanged the painting from the wall. “I especially love the way her mouth is drawn.”

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Hipster Hercules’ Hunt for the Hydra

What Hercules noticed at first on his way to slay the Hydra was the stone statues that littered on his way there. They were mostly of shoppers, which made sense, since he was inside a shopping mall right now. Some of the shoppers that were walking beside him possessed handbags. Some of them possessed screaming dogs and cats and babies on leashes. And some of them had a facial expression that told Hercules that they had unfortunately urinated just before their petrification. Hercules even saw a statue of a bodybuilder that had a similar physique as him and was flexing. As he stood near the statue to admire the body, he suddenly heard a hiss behind him.

“Stop staring at him. Just because he was an ex-boyfriend doesn’t mean that I don’t have any feelings for him.”

Hercules turned around and then immediately began to scream. The person now standing in front of him continued. “I just had to get out, you know? He was getting too heavy on me, you know? Every time I wanted to do something adventurous, he just kept on crushing my dreams.” She – it was a female – walked over to the biceps of the bodybuilder. “Well, I guess he’s much heavier now, considering that his body is now composed of stone. What a shame. He was so keen on being fit.”

Hercules was still screaming. The other shoppers looked at him briefly, before quickly resuming to their shopping lists and their plastic-filled purses and their screaming dogs/cats/babies. The woman who was speaking to him was wearing a pair of extremely tacky sunglasses: the round rimmed ones with the tinted shades. In fact, all her clothes made her look like that she just came back from the seventies. She also had snakes on her head where normal people had hair.

Hercules paused his screaming for a little bit to catch his breathe. Just as he was ready to resume his screaming, the woman yelled at him. “Excuse me! These sunglasses belonged to Prince at the height of his fame. You have no right to laugh at me. Look at what you’re wearing. The Hipster look is hardly any better.”

Hercules suddenly became very self-conscious about his cigarette pants and his thick-rimmed glasses. He stopped tapping the floor with his Oxfords, and he crossed his arms to hide the V-neck slope of his shirt. He tried to hide his iPhone 5 and pull the earplugs out of his ears. But Medusa was quick to catch him.

“And what were you listening to? Arcade Fire? Really now? Their songs are shit.” The snakes on her head hissed in agreement.

Hercules nervously looked around him. The shoppers walking around him still paid no attention to him. They also didn’t pay attention to the snake-haired woman. Instead, their minds seemed to be focusing on the stores with their flashy displays and their too impeccably dressed mannequins. Hercules gulped in fear as two middle-aged women carried around their flabby wrists bags and bags of Abercrombie and Fitch (with the half-naked male models) clothes towards him. A young boy, no older than ten, walked behind them. He had a Justin Bieber haircut, and in his hands he held an ice cream cone with sprinkles on top. As he walked past Hercules, he looked at his V-neck T-shirt and snickered.

Almost like karma, the ice cream flied out of the boy`s hands and landed on Medusa’s jewel-embedded platform shoes. Hercules immediately covered his eyes as Medusa removed her sunglasses. When he opened his eyes again, he saw the boy standing there. Only that he was a statue. Hercules quickly scrambled for the sword app on his iPhone, but Medusa impatiently waved him down.

“This is the wrong myth – you’re here to kill the Hydra, right? It’s over there at the food court.” She scanned Hercules contemptuously for one last time before turning around. “It’s also naked – showing that it has a better sense of fashion than you. Farewell.”

The sound her platform shoes made with the floor echoed in the shopping mall for a second, and then disappeared as she dissolved in the crowd. It took Hercules quite some time before he could find the food court; the signs confused him. When he arrived there however, nobody was there. The lights were all off. The chairs were tumbled over, and there is a trail of oil leading into the McDonald’s kitchen. Hercules took out his iPhone, and pressed play for “Party Rock Anthem.”

Perfectly on cue, the Hydra came running outside the kitchen, with its reptilian body and all its nine heads. But Hercules was ready. He immediately pressed the sword app. A light saber extended out of the tip of the iPhone. He quickly cut off one of the Hydra’s heads. But as soon as it fell, a new head grew out.

Hercules smiled. He had known about this since last night, when he went on Wikipedia to research on the Hydra. Yahoo! Answers also showed him what he was about to do next. He dashed inside the McDonald’s kitchen, following his nose. Sure enough, he saw what he needed. There was still an ample amount of oil inside the deep fryer. He quickly grabbed a coke cup – the supersize one – and filled it with the golden liquid. He rushed outside. The Hydra came running at him. Hercules again sliced one of the heads off. As it was about to regenerate, he poured the oil on it. The Hydra emitted a terrible scream, and its long slender neck remained a stub.

All of a sudden, the lights were turned on. A squad of people soon pushed Hercules down and handcuffed him. “Hercules, you are under arrest for poaching an endangered species,” a man dressed in leather said to him. As Hercules looked up, he saw the Hydra being tended to by a group of veterinarians. “We really need to thank that snake-haired woman for calling us here.” He heard the police officer say. “Skinning a poor, innocent animal for fashion? Disgusting.” He glanced at Hercules. “And what the fuck are you wearing?”

Post-Mortem

I tried to clean the spilled coffee off of my shirt with the gray linen handkerchief – but I couldn’t, of course. I felt the hard pavement pushes against my back coldly – I couldn’t really feel, of course, but that’s what it would have felt like if I could. Looking up – once again, I couldn’t really look – the indomitable sky scrapers looked back at me blankly.

It was an autumn morning. One minute ago, I was walking down the street with a cup of coffee, when, of all things, a toilet seat fell from one of the skyscrapers and hit me in the head. As I looked around me, I could see that the toilet seat managed to land gracefully on the ground without any signs of damage. I had no such luck.

A significant crowd has gathered around him. I could hear the snickers, the sighs, the rare sob. Soon, the sound of a siren will soar through it all, and me – my corpse to be more precise – will be hauled away, and the crowd would part, scuttling along their little lives. It would be as if I had never existed.

Twenty four minutes ago, on my way to work, I had driven past the very ambulance that will be carrying his dead body.

A hand reached down. “I thought you might need a hand.” I took the hand and got up. I looked at my watch. “You’re late,” I said to the adolescent girl that stood before me. “Two minutes to be exact.”

“Oh yeah? Kill me.” The girl stuck her tongue out and winked. I found her to be unfathomable. She was wearing jeans from Abercrombie and Fitch, a black T-shirt that said “YOU’RE DEAD TO ME,” a black necklace that extended down to her bosom – not that I was staring. But what she is, I could not describe if my life had depended on it – not that it ever would now. She had a bored expression on her face. It would make sense for Death to be unfathomable.

Eighteen years ago, I had first begun working at this city. At that time, I had no family or friends here. So little has changed.

“Would you mind picking that up?” She pointed to the toilet seat. I did as I was told. Blood dripped down from it. How ironic that the force that is causing the blood to drip is also what caused my death.

“Walk with me.” Death commanded, and I followed behind her as she walked past the crowds of people that, I presume, could not see them at all. They were each holding a cup of coffee cautiously, afraid to lose even a single drop. I often wondered about what made the cups so important. After all, it’s just coffee. But Whatever it was, their carriers are absolutely captivated, and their faces are filled with terrified bliss. Like headless salmons, they never bother to look up at the sky that is ready to casts the fishing line at any moment.

“Maybe it’s not coffee.” Death suddenly commented. “Maybe it’s porpoises. Or some beef.”

“I beg your pardon?” I held my nose. The aroma from the coffee had combined with the exhaust fumes of the cars to settle into a very unsavoury smell.

“You know? An attraction? Regions and geology?” Seeing my lack of comprehension, Death sighed. “So,” she pointed to the toilet seat, “how come you were killed by that?”

For a second there, I thought that she was joking. When I realized that she wasn’t, and that one of the most powerful gods did not know the most fundamental principles of the universe, I was only able to mutter incoherent chain of words. “Gravity. Terminal velocity. Newton.” The last time I took physics, I was in high school. My teacher, a bald and no-nonsense man, had failed me. Death was not very impressed. “That man” – I presumed that she was talking about Newton – “was so dumb. Nearly shit his pants when he first saw me.” She smacked her lips. “That boy from Rwanda, on the other hand, was smart.” She closed her eyes. “Too bad the machete went straight for the head.”

I did not say a thing. Twenty-four years ago, I had graduated from university, brimming with hope for the future. Death fell silent, and we kept on walking. Eventually we passed by a large crowd. Maybe someone else died, I thought to myself. But Death grabbed my hand, and squeezed our ways to the front of the crowd. There, I saw the attraction. It was a young girl, around the same age as death. She was dancing to an invisible melody. The sound from her feet, her hands, her dress that fluttered around in the wind, pierced through the noisy silence of the streets. The crowd was so mesmerized by her that they had forgotten to sip their coffee. She looked alien, and I could not discern where she had come from. The girl suddenly spotted Death, and waved at her. “Come on!” Death yelled, and I soon found all three of us dancing in broad daylight. “How can she see us?” I asked, but Death was too entranced by her dance, the dance of the dead.

Thirty-five years ago, my mother had lied in a bed with white sheet. Her eyes slowly opened and closed. Her breathing was slow and gentle. Tears flowed down my eyes.

We danced for a long time. After we stopped, Death made me leave behind the toilet seat for the girl. We resumed walking, and they walked until dusk, where they arrived at a beach. Death stopped. She smiled at me.

“This is where we part.” She said.

“Umm… so what happens now?” I asked.

She shrugged. “How should I know?”

I looked out at the horizon where the sea mixes with the sky. A strange thought occurred to me. Salmon migrate to the sea after they are hatched. I chuckled at the absurdity of the thought. I see.

Forty-two years ago, in a hospital somewhere, a baby boy was born to a very tired woman. Upon seeing him, she forgot all about her fatigue couldn’t help but smile. “I love you so much.” She said to him as she bent down and kissed him gently on the forehead.

And in a flash he was gone.