This story is by Grace Geil and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
My morning cup of coffee-several cups-are lazily consumed while I stare into space, stare at the wall, stare outside. A squirrel plays with the neighborhood cats. I doubt squirrels live long but I see him every year when he comes to call, to raid the bird feeder, who stares at me with almond eyes. Every year I call him Sparky.
Now that I’m thoroughly sidetracked, I have to reel it in and get ready. As I set the coffee cup in the sink, I catch something out of the corner of my eye, something on the kitchen table. Then it’s gone-a flash of purple fur-whatever it was, it zips by. Ok, I’ve had too much coffee or maybe not enough. Strange. I’ve experienced those little floaty things that dance in front of my eyes. My eye doctor says it comes with age, the retina possibly detaching from my eye, but I know I saw it. A ball of purple fur, a creature the size of that purple guy in those Dr. Pepper commercials.
After a shower, I look in the backyard and am mortified at what I see. My poor Sparky. Bright crimson blood trickles down the fence, speckles of red land on the flowers below. Sparky’s lifeless body, the turkey vultures circle overhead. What is going on? Tears well, then splash down my face. I also dream a lot. I remember every detail, usually bad ones. I see purple again, this time on the kitchen counter. I have the taste of Dr. Pepper in my mouth. Diet or the real thing, I’m out of here.
My husband finds me slumped over the steering wheel, engine running.
He inquires, What are you doing?
I don’t answer.
He tries again, What’s going on?
I mumble something about squirrels, a hankering for Dr. Pepper, a bad dream, a blur of purple fur. He let’s out a breath, slowly his eyes close, he says he can see those floaty things too, but inside his eyelids, reminds him of that milky way episode on the science channel.
He whispers, For better or worse, for better or worse….
This gets my attention.
He rattles on, You left your paint on the fence again. This time it is dripping everywhere. ‘Sparky,’ as you call him, is covered and looks like a red weasel. He’s not happy.
Between the antics of my backyard creature and this purple one inside the house, my imagination is off the charts.
I hear a clunk and for a brief moment the cars’ back end does a little bounce up and down. I feel embarrassed, yet ask, Did you hear that? Did the car move? Look for me.
He clears his throat. Nothing happened. I’m not going to look because you’ll be late for work.
On the freeway the commuters are racing by, a handful riding my bumper. I’m tempted to slam on my breaks. My Honda Accord is metallic gray. Yet out of my left mirror I see a blob of purple, again. What did I leave on top of the trunk? And it’s not flying away as I race down the road? As I roll down my window (or as I press the electronic button so it can go down,)I wave at the other drivers to look in my direction. My gesture gets me dirty looks, confused and mad faces all around.
I start to yell, Hey you guys, help me! Can’t you see it? Just look back there!
One guy screams, You’re crazy Lady…Going to get us killed.
What happened to the Good Samaritan law? CLUNK. There’s that noise again. I’m now at a red light. I cautiously look in the rear view mirror. Then I squint my eyes like George on Seinfeld. George needs new glasses and if he squints at a dime on the ground he can see to pick it up. I decide to close one eye, then the other. Maybe that would work….the light goes green. Dozens of my closest motoring friends honk in unison. Now they acknowledge me, gees. I pull into work. I’m anxious. I feel beads of sweat on my forehead. I gather my things and brave the world beyond my car.
I take a few steps toward the building while I turn to catch a glimpse of the car. The purple, whatever it was, is gone. My heart skips a beat. Suddenly this THING is lumbering along beside me. Oh my gosh! I hasten my gait to get away. It follows and catches up. When WE pass a window I see OUR reflection. This thing is so ugly, yet kinda cute. The suns rays dance on its purplish hairy body. The face is almost human except for a long, dog like snout, freckles under saucer shaped green eyes. It appears to lumber on all fours, resembling a chimpanzee.
My mind must be playing tricks again. WE cross the threshold of the entryway.
My coworker acknowledges me, Hey you, you’re almost late.
I reply, I’ve had a rough morning.
Well look at that. She points at me.
Hallelujah. She can see it. She can see this purple thing at my side. And yes, you’re right, it’s here, next to me. It’s dangling off my shoulder? I crane my neck to see. A purse?
She begins her tirade, Have you been staying up late again? You and that Amazon. What is it this time? I have to say, that is the ugliest yet. This obsession of yours is affecting your work, you’re sleep deprived, you tell me about your bad dreams and your wild imagination. I hear the boss wants to see you.
I barely make it through my day.
I’m home now and make coffee. I can still see Sparky’s blood on the fence. I’ll miss him. My phone beckons. I’m too weak to resist. Like many nights before I heed the call of online shopping. Who has time for sleep?