Terrible Minds’ Flash Fiction: Brand New MonsterPosted: October 11, 2011
It told Stephen, “You’re fifty-four years old with nothing to show for it. “ And what happened is Stephen quit his job and soon after quit his family and now people call him crazy.
He lives alone in a tiny house. He eats tiny meals, goes on tiny walks. He keeps up with tiny stories on a tiny television. He sleeps on a tiny bed where he has tiny dreams. He pursues a tiny relationship with a tiny dog that he lets out into his tiny yard. He pays for all of this with a tiny job.
His ex-wife, Claire, used to call him and say, “Stephen, I don’t understand what you’re going through.” And sometimes she would say, “Please come home.”
But Stephen did not come home. There was an enormous amount of guilt working its way into a pile that rested on the other end of the phone line. His lover, his children, his grandchildren.
“Dad, you have to come to the house for Christmas. No one else will be there. It’s just us.”
“You’re this close to never seeing your granddaughter again. I’m not going to explain this for the next eighteen years.”
“Will you please get some help? This is not normal.”
Stephen cancelled his phone service, told them thank you, but he had decided to go with a different carrier. When the voice on the other end said, “We’re sorry to see you go,” he thought that was the perfect way to leave that pile of guilt on the other end.
It said, “Stephen, the difference between you and them is they all earned their love. Your son is a great father. You’re fifty-nine years old and you don’t know what that means.”
His tiny dog was his only friend until it passed in the same summer Stephen turned sixty-five. He buried it in his tiny yard after saying a tiny prayer.
He felt enormous emotions and cried enormous tears.
It said, “It’s relieving to feel what you deserve.”
On a fall day in the year Stephen was seventy-three, he was sitting at his tiny table and staring at a tiny spot on the wall when he heard the first knock his door had ever felt. On the third knock, he realized the noise wasn’t part of the staring, it was a real-life beckon.
Shaking with the feeling of being wanted, he loved that knock with all of his heart. He reached out his hand. He wanted to feel the knock all over. He wanted the knock to get inside of him and tell him how to feel forever.
He wasn’t sure when the knock stopped because he could still hear it. He figured whoever was doing the knocking wasn’t doing it for days. But he could feel it just the same.
It said, “Stephen, while your desperation is seen, it cannot make the knock real.”
Stephen said, “It’s the most real thing I’ve ever heard in my entire life.”
He spent the rest of his life sitting at that tiny table. The knock grew louder and bigger and he could soon feel it in his whole body. Near the end, he thought he could even see it, like the knock was escaping his skin as light. It was so inviting and it soon filled the room. All at once, he let go into it, feeling at home and loved, by the light and everything else, on this side and the other.