Cradles the Brain: A Book of Short Tales

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Around Every Corner

Petals floated down around them. She lightly held his hand as they walked. He spoke softly as she listened in silence. Her mind was there with him but also in her own world.

They turned the corner onto her street. She looked from him to a cherry tree in her neighbor’s lawn. The pink blossoms gently fell to the ground, raining around the body hanging from a branch. She stared into her own lifeless eyes. Her feet hung a few feet above the ground, still slightly swaying as her feet stood on the sidewalk.

She sighed and he asked if she was alright. She solemnly nodded and told him to continue his story.

The extension cord was tight around her neck and she averted her eyes to the sidewalk below. A chalk game of hangman lay beneath her feet and she quickly stepped over it.

He continued his story. She tried to pay attention but had lost some of the details.

She squeezed her eyes shut, pushing the tears down.

She opened them as a car drove toward them from the road. She saw her run from where she was standing and jump in front of the car. Her body hit the hood and was sent backward. The driver slammed on his brakes, but not soon enough. His tire skidded over her head, smashing it like a melon.

She turned away her eyes as the car passed by slowly. He had stopped speaking and she hadn’t noticed until that moment. She nodded and he asked what was wrong again. She told him she was fine.

They walked up her driveway in silence. Her truck suddenly started, but he didn’t seem to notice. She looked into the driver’s seat and saw herself. The windows were rolled up, except a small crack in the driver’s window. A garden hose was pinched into the window. She ran to the back of her truck, following the hose, and saw the hose was duct taped to the exhaust pipe.

He looked at her strangely, wondering why she was inspecting the back of her truck.

She blinked and the truck was no longer running. The hose and duct tape were gone.

She ran up the driveway and quickly entered the house. Once inside, she felt relief flood over her. He came in after her. Worry creased his face.

She walked out of the front room and passed her kitchen. She saw someone standing near the sink out of the corner of her eye but assumed it was her mom. She said hi and no one responded.

She heard a gasp and something spill. She looked over. She saw herself standing on the dark laminate. Her white shirt was stained red. A knife protruded from her abdomen. She took this in both hands and slid it across her stomach, opening herself up. Blood poured from her.

She looked away and moved on to the hallway. He followed close behind, hesitant to speak.

She entered her bathroom to wash her hands up. Flicking on the light, she heard water moving. She stepped into the illuminated room and looked to her left. A bloody razor sat on the bathmat.

She lay in the red water, her head tipped back, her ripped wrists lay upright on the sides of the tub. Thick blood dripped onto the floor.

She looked into the mirror in front of herself. She was grey. Purple bruises were wrapped around her neck. Blood stained her cut open wrists and abdomen. Her face was contorted as if she had been smashed.

She pulled at her hair and screamed. He looked at her with wide eyes, unable to see what she saw.

She pushed past him and ran to her parent’s bedroom. She stopped at the doorway, seeing herself. Her other self smiled at her and raised the pistol. She put it in her mouth and pulled the trigger.

She clamped her hands over her ears, her head rocking. She watched her brains splatter the wall and the painting she had made for her mother in years past.

She ran to her body and picked her up by her shirt collar. She shook the limp body and screamed. She asked it why, why she had to haunt her.

He stood in the hallway, watching her struggle with nothing. He listened to her screams and wondered what she saw.

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