31 Days Of Halloween Day 5 – Wonder By J.R. Hamantaschen
Ever wonder if anyone is still thinking about you? You might not like what they are thinking. Today’s story comes to us from indie horror author J.R. Hamantaschen. If you like his story that is posted after the break here then you should check out his short story collection over on Amazon. A few more of his stories will be making some appearances this month. And if you haven’t yet head on over to the Talk Without Rhythm Podcast and check out El Goro’s review of Kwaidan.
Wonder . . . .
Wonder if you’ll think of me when whatever lady you marry tells you she’s pregnant. But I know that’s unlikely; honestly, you’d have no reason to think of me then, anyway. Your plate will be full with baby books and doctors visits and late-night heart-to-hearts with your bros and confidential talks with yourself in the mirror. You’ll being doing a lot to change your ways and prove to everybody (especially your mother-in-law) that your wife didn’t bet all her chips on a losing horse.
You won’t think of me when your baby is finally born, either. No, I don’t know what you’ll be thinking then. If popular culture is any guide, you won’t be thinking anything, except maybe: I’m a father, I’m a father, I can’t believe it, but I’m a father. The whirl of the delivery room will grant your inner wish and fall into a state of reverential calm: the doctor’s pat on your back will fail to register and your wife’s warm but fatigued smile will go unnoticed, because at that moment in time, it’ll be just you and your boy.
I’ll be the furthest thing from your mind.
You won’t think of me, specifically, when you change your baby’s diaper, wipe your baby’s ass . . . and feel something inside him scratch back. But we’ll be connected, in some way, because then you’ll get to feel what I’m always feeling — some kind of inarticulate jolting dread in your gut. But your panic — lucky you — will last only for a little bit. Rational minds rationalize, and you, no doubt, will suppress fears of your baby’s health by smothering them with comforting reminders of your overactive imagination and the horrors wrought by your unchecked anxieties. The baby books will have taught you well.
But minds only stretch so far, and I can’t tell you exactly what you’ll think or how you’ll cope when you see formless movement pushing against your baby’s diaper like a heavy body groping against blinds on a windowsill, or what appeasing words you’ll offer to your crying baby boy as you hold his hand and, as earnestly as you can muster, pray to your god, to anybody, for the bleeding and redolent rotting in his mouth to go away. But soon enough you’ll stop worrying about that because soon enough he’ll have no mouth.
But I do know how you’ll feel when all the doctors visits fail and you end up dealing with Frank or Sal or whatever quiet hoodlum in the waste management industry you manage to pay off. You’ll beg him — please, please, please — to keep his mouth shut. Just take the package and get rid of it. Don’t worry, you have his word. He’ll take the unmarked cardboard box containing your “baby” and hopefully he’ll drive fast enough (or be oblivious enough) to make his way to the barge to discard your son before he hears your boy’s mewling, gets curious, and discovers something his mind can’t undo.
I’ll empathize with you when you hold your wife at night, after you tell her it all went according to plan, that she can stop worrying, that you two can — and will – move on. I’ll empathize with you — a little bit — because at least then you’ll know loss. You’ll know a little bit about pain, and, as scared and confused and distraught as you’ll be, you’ll look into your wife’s dinner-plate eyes and know you need to stay strong for the both of you.
But your stoic façade will come to its end, soon enough. Desperate hopelessness. That’s what you’ll feel when you knock and knock on the bathroom door, pleading with your wife to open the door, finally making headway when your fury breaks and you command her to open that fucking door. There’s that rage: you’re finally putting it to good use! And to think, you thought it had left you! But we both know that underneath your brashness is gnawing futility, and that’s all you’ll know when she finally opens the door and lets you in but turns away from you, too ashamed to let you see her face. But you can see it off the reflection of the mirror and you can’t explain it but her reflection looks too abstruse. It looks like melting.
I know you won’t be thinking of me then. I can accept that.
But I do hope you think of me, somehow, when in the middle of the night you open your eyes and see what your wife has become. Oh ye of little imagination, in that quick instance you’ll probably just picture a spider or a crab or maybe a lobster. How wrong you will be. I should let you linger on my handiwork.
God, I hope lightning flares and thunder booms right outside your window when you get that first good look at her. You’ll subconsciously take note of how long her limbs are and how unstable she seems, how something about her makes you itch and grimace as if you were watching contorting maggots sucking on rotting meat.
But somehow you’ll know this is just the natural conclusion to what you set in motion five years ago. I pray some dying ember in your brain flares and you somehow think of me, even when she lands on your stomach, moans a dirge into your ear and burrows her hungry hands into your face like a dog burying a bone in the backyard.
And if you don’t think of me, I’ll make you, even as your face and skin play the part of the doggy’s upended dirt.
But, even then, I’ll keep a little mystery between us. I’ll let you wonder, just before your consciousness floats off like a boy letting go of a balloon, why it was, five years ago, that even though you had knocked the drink out of my hand for absolutely no reason, that even though you had your friends all laughing at me, that even though you were calling me a faggot in front of everyone in the room: that all I did to defend myself was smile.