Lists of Lists

Lists of Lists

He writes a list for the day. Adamant, every single task that must be accomplished he outlines within a doable amount of time and writes each item on a roll of receipt paper. To transpose a day’s list here would be impractical and purposeless. Nevertheless, an example of the day’s first hour:

0630 – 0635 Wake

0637 – 0638 Get out of bed

0638 – 0639 Walk to bathroom

0639 – 0645 Relieve the pee

0645 – 0646 Wash hands, rinse mouth with water

0646 – 0647 Dry hands on brown and blue towel

0647 – 0649 Exit bathroom, return to bedroom

0649 – 0650 Put on robe

0650 – 0651 Walk to kitchen, turn on coffee maker

0651 – 0652 Pick a bowl from the cupboard and a spoon from the drawer, set both on eating counter

0652 – 0653 Grab coffee mug from drying rack and turn upright onto the counter in front of coffee maker

0653 – 0654 Choose an oatmeal from fridge and grab almond milk, place on eating counter next to bowl and spoon and counter in front of coffee maker, respectively

0654 – 0655 Pour oatmeal into bowl and almond milk into mug, return both to fridge

0655 – 0656 Stir oatmeal with spoon and wait to reach room temperature

0656 – 0659 Sit at eating counter, wait for coffee to finish

0659 – 0702 Open blinds

0702 – 0705 Pour coffee into mug, sit at eating counter, sip coffee as oatmeal warms

0705 – 0710 Eat oatmeal, drink coffee

0710 – 0713 Wash bowl and spoon, set in drying rack

0713 – 0714 Refill coffee mug with almond milk and coffee, turn off coffee maker

0714 – 0716 Grab newspaper from front porch, breathe in thirty-seconds of fresh air

0716 – 0717 Walk to desk, set coffee on desk, sit with newspaper

0717 – 0730 Read newspaper

At some point during the day, “Write tomorrow’s to-do list” is the next thing on the day’s to-do list to do. The circumstance of listing the task of writing the next day’s to-do list creates an irregular sensation to write another list listing what ought to be listed in the next day’s to-do list, and so, a new list forms, which ultimately returns him to the day’s list that needs to be finished, but the completion of the day’s list rests upon the listing of the next day’s listed listings. 

Eventually, night falls, and the room grows dark. He consults the day’s list but soon realizes he does not know the time, and just as the thought hits his conscious mind, the clock begins to chime. Eighteen hundred, he thinks to himself. He consults the day’s list once more and reads:

1800 – 1801 Consult the day’s list

He consults the day’s list for one minute, and then he reads:

1801 – 1810 Complete tomorrow’s to-do list

He begins to complete the next day’s to-do list, always in reverse order by writing what must be done last first, when the doorbell rings and interrupts him with the first hour of his day left bare. Unsure again of the time, he looks at the clock, the time reads 1810. He consults the day’s list.

1810 – 1811 Answer the door to see who knocks

Obedient, he walks to the front door and opens the door—a stranger. Cautious, he keeps his foot behind the door. “Good evening, sir. I hope I’m not interrupting,” the stranger begins; “My name is Cinoa. How are you today?” “One moment please,” he responds as he shuts the door. He consults the day’s list.

1811 – 1814 Find out what the stranger at the door wants

Noting the three-minute allotment for this particular interaction, he decides to consult the next few line items.

1814   – ____ Do as you’re told

____ – ____ Return home

He agrees and walks back to the front door. As he opens the door, the stranger, Cinoa, speaks up before he can get a word out, “Please, sir, I just need one moment of your time.” “Okay, yea, sure. How can I help you?” he responds.

Cinoa, stuttering, nervous, “Jus, just, uh, one, uh, moment.” Wringing a few sheets of paper between his hands, Cinoa looks down at the sheets and mumbles slightly as he reads. “Right, yes, oh right, yes,” Cinoa whispers to himself. “Are you the owner of this house?” Cinoa finally asks. “Yes,” the homeowner states. “Great. Then please, sir, come out here with me, if you don’t mind. I’d like to show you something,” Cinoa reads from his sheets of paper. “Very well,” the homeowner obliges. The two walk around to the side of the home, an aged, cumbersome house of natural wood. Cinoa points to a corner of roofing, “See that there?” “Sure, yes,” the homeowner acknowledges. “That’s a good sign that you’re in need of a new roof,” Cinoa explains as he consults his sheets of paper again, and then he continues, “Do you mind if I get on the roof to check for any other problem areas?” “Sure, that’s no problem,” the homeowner again obliges. Cinoa looks at the homeowner, then back at the sheet one more time, “No.” “No, what?” the homeowner asks. “You were supposed to say, ‘No,’” Cinoa clarifies. “Oh,” the homeowner states. Feeling a little shocked, the homeowner apologizes, “I’m sorry, just one moment, please.” Cinoa nods and stands, “I’ll just wait here.” The homeowner walks sideways for a bit as he dismisses himself from Cinoa’s presence and returns to his house to consult the day’s to-do list.

1823 – 1825 Walk back inside house to consult the day’s to-do list

1825 – 1828 Return to stranger and refuse the offer and be adamant that it’s all a sham

1828 – 1830 Argue with the stranger and escort him off the property

1830 – 1831 Return home

Running now, the homeowner rushes around the house to speak with Cinoa, “I’m sorry, you were right. No, I’m not interested in whatever you’re trying to do here. It’s all a sham of some sort or something, I’m sure.” “Okay, sir. There’s no need to get angry. I was simply trying to provide you a necessary service,” Cinoa responds. “Aren’t you supposed to insist?” the homeowner asks. “No, I’m to respond politely and respect your wishes,” Cinoa states. “I think you’re supposed to try to convince me that you really ought to look at my roof. I mean, look at the thing; it’s nearly falling apart!” the homeowner insists. “It’s not up to me to convince you,” Cinoa explains. “Then what are we to argue about?” the homeowner states at the same time he realizes that they are indeed already arguing now. “Ah, yes,” the two respond simultaneously, satisfied. “Great,” the homeowner smiles as he motions with an arm to lead Cinoa off his property. “Perfect,” Cinoa states while collecting himself and acknowledging the homeowner’s gesture to remove him from the property.

They two walk together amicably along the side of the house and across the front yard to a small dirt driveway. “Have you lived here long?” Cinoa chats. The homeowner simply looks at Cinoa. “I get it,” Cinoa responds; “No small talk, eh?” “Not today, apparently,” the homeowner concedes. “Sure, sure,” Cinoa mutters to fill the silence. Once Cinoa reaches the dirt drive, the homeowner turns on his heels and heads back to his house. “Alright, bye! Thanks again,” Cinoa shouts out. The homeowner ignores the farewell, does not wave a hand and quickly hops up the steps to the front porch, never looking back.

1831 – 1833 Through the front door window, verify that the stranger left.

He walks back to the front door and stares out over the front porch and front yard, through the window. Cinoa still stands on the dirt drive; he waves at the homeowner whom he can see through the front door. The two stare at each other over the distance that separates them. He stands for the allotted two minutes, but Cinoa does not leave. Anxious, he consults the day’s list.

1833 – 1834 Invite the stranger in for coffee

He walks back to the front door, opens it and stands upon the front porch. Waving at Cinoa now, he shouts loudly, “Do you want to come in for some coffee?” “Sure,” Cinoa gladly accepts; “I thought you’d never ask.” Cinoa makes his way to the house while the homeowner leaves the front door open, makes his way back to his desk, and consults his list.

1834 – 1835 Make coffee, take list with you, keep in pocket

1835 – 1836 Ask the stranger how he likes his coffee

1836 – 1837 Prepare two mugs

1837 – 1900 Make small talk

Hearing Cinoa’s feet hit the wood floors of the foyer, the homeowner shouts, “I’m back here, in the kitchen. Keep walking straight past the stairs and down the hall. How do you take your coffee?” “Black’s fine or with one sugar cube, if you have sugar cubes,” Cinoa admits as he reaches the kitchen. The kitchen opens out to the left after the hallway. Cinoa appears in the doorway between the fridge and a full-length, cupboard-type pantry. “Come on in,” the homeowner invites as he busies himself preparing the two mugs; “You can sit at the eating counter over there.” Comfortable, Cinoa makes his way through the kitchen, past the kitchen’s middling island countertop area, behind the eating counter to the stools that face back into the kitchen. “I’ll stand,” Cinoa decides. “If you must,” the homeowner jovially comments.

Cinoa has a look around. The kitchen opens into a living-room area that’s carpeted, unlike the hardwood of the foyer and hallway, also unlike the kitchen which is floored in some sort of blue tile. One large, blue couch sits on the farthest wall from the kitchen, an even larger window sits behind it. The wall that extends out from the left side of the couch, back toward the kitchen is littered with small windows all of various shapes and sizes. Each window has accompanying blinds that fit exactly within each respective window’s shape and size. “I like those windows,” Cinoa admits. “Yes, they are nice,” the homeowner agrees. “How long have you lived here?” Cinoa asks. The homeowner looks at him, as if studying Cinoa’s intent. “Not long,” the homeowner lies. “Really?” Cinoa questions; “That seems odd.” “How so?” the homeowner humors. “Well, it’s just that the clean, modern interior of this house definitely doesn’t match the almost rotting exterior of the thing,” Cinoa explains. “What does that have to do with how long I’ve lived here?” the homeowner asks, confused. “Oh, nothing, I suppose,” Cinoa mutters.

The coffee maker gurgles and puffs a short spout of steam to signify its completion of its task. “I don’t have any sugar cubes, but I do have sugar,” the homeowner offers. “Oh, no sugar then,” Cinoa responds; “Black’s fine.” “Sure,” the homeowner obliges as he pours the coffee from its pot. “Say, you have any family?” Cinoa, feeling nosey, asks. “Yes,” the homeowner lies again. He places the strangers coffee in front of him on the eating counter while he remains standing within the bounds of the kitchen, “Please, have a seat.” “I’ll stand,” Cinoa states, almost defiantly and then prods, “And?” “And what?” requests the homeowner. “Your family,” Cinoa clarifies. “Yes, I have family,” the homeowner reiterates. “Of what sort?” Cinoa prys. “Of all sorts,” the homeowner retorts. “Very well,” Cinoa concedes with a small chuckle; “I just thought we were gonna get to know each other a little. I mean, you’re the one who invited me in.” The two sip coffee for a moment, quietly slurping, silently standing. 

‘Be a good little girl.’

‘Be a good little girl.’

Patiently waiting, Attila stands by the only door in the room while the students slowly make their way toward her so that they may all walk together to the banquet. As the last set joins the group, Attila easily reaches down for her duffel bag with her right hand as she pushes down upon the door handle to push the door open. In an unnoticeable instant to the students who follow behind, Attila gasps as she attempts to grasp the door handle, under the realization that the door needed to be pulled open. A wave of grief, suspense, the cold chill of horror washes over her and presses deep into the top of her right shoulder creating a trigger point that shoots electric pain through the upper right trapezius of her back and down through her right arm. She drops the duffel.

In slow motion now, the room begins to tear into thin strips as if the reality around her were made of paper. As each strip releases itself from the larger whole, the strip itself pops into confetti-sized shards that wisp away like ash from a campfire. With body tied to the pace of the disintegrating room, Attila’s eyes are free to roam about at full speed. The students tear in half and away they float. Once time catches up to the setting, Attila finds herself walking through a threshold, into a large, open, airy, dark, sparkling space. Looking behind her now, subtly, over her left shoulder, she notices the revolving door through which she must have just arrived.  A sharp, beautiful, tall couple swirl around the door and into the space. Dressed in the fanfare of fanciful festivities, Attila feels as though she must be underdressed. To her surprise but not really, she looks down to see that she is indeed dressed appropriately. In a perfectly floor-length, emerald gown, adorned over in black lace, she pokes a toe out from under the thing to see the rounded toe-box of a simple, black patent-leather, stiletto. Of a white with a metallic sheen, the sort of raw metallicity of platinum, she also wears gloves. Unknown to her at the moment for without a mirror, how could she know, Attila wears platinum earrings that are shaped like small wings with the inside of the wing portion that lines the outer edge of her face encrusted in spinels of black and a green that matches her gown that slowly disperse into the naked metal. Conscientiously, she touches her hair, some sort of waved, curled, loose updo.

Slightly perplexed but no longer surprised, Attila takes in the room as she continues to stand in, what could essentially be considered, the middle of the space, although, since the space acts as more of a foyer than a room in and of itself, the space in which she currently stands sort of lacks a center. No matter, she stands and looks about the place. Curved, the wall with the revolving door continues around behind her for a bit and then reaches around the left side of her, and then, it seems as if the wall comes to a point with the right wall that reaches away from the revolving door to the right, only to curve as well around the right of her, meeting up with the left side of the wall somewhere far away, down a hallway, the hallway that also curves slightly to the right and disappears, the hallway through which she would eventually walk if she walked exactly straight for fifty meters or so. Before she would reach that hallway, however, a wide staircase would tempt her to ascend toward the upper floors. The stairs, as they rise upward through the space narrow. The half-way landing serves as a small balcony that looks out through that left wall, made solely of glass that extends back into that hallway and up to the ceiling of the fourth or fifth floor. Turning on itself, the stairs continue to climb until reaching the second floor. She counts. Four balconies lookout and down into the foyer area in which she currently still stands, causing the airy atmosphere. In her immediate space, a tall, silvery tree stands, decorating that left wall. From the outside, the place must glow wildly in the night. Perched atop the silver tree, a red bell twinkles ever so often.

Attila decides to examine the tree more closely, since, as the awkwardness of her standing there dawns on her, she realizes that she must look quite awkward. Slowly, she gracefully glides over to the tree. As she gets closer, she realizes that the tree is not a tree at all. Instead, individually potted, white poinsettias sit inside a frame to make the shape of a tree. Dusted in a silvery glitter, the whole thing ignites into a blaze of light as the glitter on the leaves reflects and refracts the strands of white light wrapped around the metal frame that holds each potted plant. Curious, Attila reaches out a hand to touch a leaf. Just as she does so, the arms of a small child reach out toward her. She screams and drops the glass of champagne. The champagne spills all over her dress before it shatters all over the floor. When did I get that glass? she wonders, quickly. The giggles of small children emanate from within the tree. “Why you fucking little. Get out here right now!” Attila whisper-shouts. More giggles and laughter. Embarrassed, she looks around to see if anyone has noticed. Of course, everyone on the first and second floors notices and every eye in the place looks directly at her. A server makes his way to her with napkins while another server fetches something with which to clean up the mess. “So sorry,” Attila sings with a nervous giggle. The people return to their own business. As the server with the napkins approaches her, Attila looks down at her gown to assess the damage. Looking up to the server who rushed to her aide, she notices that the server does not have a napkin, but instead, he stands there with a tray of champagne glasses filled with champagne.

“Ma’am,” a server begins, “would you like a glass of champagne this evening?” Attila looks around the room, and at its center, she still stands. “Uh,” she stammers; “Yes, thank you.” The server gives her a courteous nod and excuses himself from her presence. Then, Attila sees a shadow of herself walking toward the tree. Once seen, the shadow disappears. Remembering the faint recollection of the earlier happenings, Attila walks, determined, toward the silver tree. Knowing what she knows, she stands just far enough to hinder the trigger of the mischievous children hidden within. Looking around the room as if unaware of the tree, Attila quickly approaches the tree, grabs for the poinsettia from which the arms emerged, removes it from the frame creating the shape of a tree, and throws the champagne into the unsuspecting face of the child sitting within. A child screams out in disgust. The sound of maybe two other children laughing satisfies her greatly. “Crazy bitch,” the champagne-covered child spits and mutters barely audible. “That’s it,” Attila remarks as she begins to tear potted poinsettia after potted poinsettia from the tree-shaped frame, revealing the hidden children inside. Gasps of horror and sheer societal disbelief roars throughout the festive space. A few of the servers and staff rush over to help quell the disaster. “Get out here right now!” Attila yells; “Where the fuck are your parents!” A distinguished-looking gentleman runs, well, walks quickly, as a gentleman in the presence of his societal peers never runs, toward Attila and subdues her by grabbing her by the waist with his right hand and by the left arm with his left hand. “Attila,” the distinguished gentleman whispers as he continues to hold her tightly and walk her away from judging eyes; “Darling, please don’t embarrass me and your mother like this.”

Walking down that hallway now, Attila thrashes herself free from the distinguished gentleman. She looks at his face and a name rises into her mind, Nigel … dad … fuck. “What the fucking shit, Nigel? Those fucking little brats need to be punished,” Attila fits in a storm of rage. “What kids? Those kids under the tree? Oh, shit, Attila. Don’t tell me you’re forgetting again,” Nigel responds. Forgetting? Again? The rage subsides as a new emotion takes control. Fuck. Orphans … the party is for the fucking orphans. “And I just fucking … goddammit,” Attila speaks aloud after the remembrance catches up with her. “I swear to god, Attila,” Nigel fumes; “Your mother knew this would not be a good idea. So, for jesus-fucking-christ’s sake, get your shit together or get the fuck out of here, now!” Nigel backs away from her a bit and drops his head, looking defeated, “I have to go deal with this shit storm now.” “I’m sorry,” Attila says, emotionless with eyes that dare her father to say more. “Just … just leave,” Nigel states as he begins to walk away. “Wait, Dad,” Attila attempts with a voice of childlike innocence. Nigel stops walking for a moment but does not turn to face her. He sighs, “What?” “What day is it? Like the date. What’s today’s date?” Attila asks. Nigel turns and faces her now with a look of utter disgust, “Attila, I cannot do this with you again.” “But,” Attila tries again. “No!” Nigel yells with the slice of his right hand; “Shut up! Just shut the fuck up and get the hell out of here! Now!” Stepping back a step from the sheer force of her father’s violence, Attila feels a small twinge of trigger-point pain shooting through the back of her right shoulder and down her right arm. Nigel breathes out a deep breath and continues to walk away, toward the festive festivities. Alone in the swooping corridor where the two walls, through which the revolving door allows entrance into this god-forsaken place, seemingly come to a point, Attila turns her back on her father as well and begins to walk deeper into the curving hallway.

Double doors approach on the right as Attila walks. Of the sort that signify a kitchen must reside beyond them, each door swings from outer hinges, never fully making contact at the center. Two large, circular windows allow a viewer, either looking in or peering out, a view. Attila stands on the perceived outside, and therefore, looks into the room, a large, industrial-like space, unlike the kitchen in which she taught her cooking class earlier … today? Attila suddenly wonders. Clinks of pots and roars of fans vibrate through the doors into Attila’s ears. Maybe not, she decides and continues to walk on, down the curving hall. One of the doors opens behind her, and a voice speaks out, “Attila!” Attila turns to see the person who yells. A name surfaces, Wen. Wen continues, “There you are. Your mother asked about you, but I didn’t know where you were.” Attila looks at Wen blankly and then looks down at the floor again. The carpet has an interesting pattern of wreaths or something, Attila notices as she cocks her head to make sense of the design. Where have I …? Concerned, Wen interrupts the thought and asks, “Are you alright? You don’t look so good.” Attila looks up at Wen’s face once again and cants forward a bit to get a better sense of Who is this person? “Attila?” Wen asks not for confirmation but rather, to focus Attila’s attention. “Yes,” Attila responds. “Why don’t you come in the kitchen, and I’ll get you something to eat,” Wen offers, again very concerned. Attila searches for an answer, Goddammit. “Are you hungry?” Wen asks. No. “Sure,” Attila responds and walks toward the double doors that swing. “Alright,” Wen states, satisfied, and then continues with what seems to be a bit of personal knowledge, “You can hang out in here for a while. I know how much you love these things.” Do I? Attila wonders to herself, and then forces out a small chuckle to normalize the situation.

And then, as Attila approaches Wen, Wen grabs Attila’s left arm and forcibly pulls Attila through the one open door of the double doors and shuts it behind her. Thrown, Attila lands on her knees and elbows on a warm rug atop a hard, wooden floor. Quickly, she scrambles around to see the door through which Wen threw her. A single wood door swings in at a small, rapid pace the way that doors of this kind do just before they come to a stop, centered within their frames. Motherfucker. Seated upon the floor, she gets a good look at the place. Nothing stands out as knowable. The room is a sort of sitting area that she assumes connects to a living or dining room through the swinging wooden door. Behind her and to the right, the room has a large, open archway that leads to some foyer-type passageway. Directly behind her, large windows open outward, bay window comes to mind. She’s always sort of liked windows in which a person can sit. Behind and to the left, an over-sized plant that’s beginning to be scrunched by the ceiling, forced to bend forward, climbing the ceiling now. On her left, a soft, white sofa. Ugh. She can see, what looks to be, the front door, also wooden, with a stained-glass window embellishing the upper-half of the door. With a deep sigh, she lies down on the rug and stares. Clouds, painted in a realism unmatched by anything she’s seen before, the clouds begin to move, in a natural pattern of an actual skyscape. Interesting, but nice, floats through her mind as she relaxes ever so slightly.

A searing tension strikes her through the trigger point in the back of her right shoulder before she even hears the words of the people not yet in the room with her, she feels them. A young man and young woman appear behind her. The woman holds a pair of massive, all-metal, silver bladed, solid-silver scissors. “Why are you sitting on the floor?” the woman asks. Attila takes in the two. The man holds a duffel bag, Is that? “Yes,” the man answers. “What are you doing here?” the woman prods further. “I,” Attila starts; “You wanted me to drop by sometime, so here I am.” Of course, Attila just shoots in the dark, until she realizes a small, perhaps significant realization. Slowly, she peels herself off the floor and takes a knowingly unwelcome seat upon the white couch. “Please don’t sit on the couch,” the woman sighs. Attila quickly stands up, “Oh, sorry.” The three stand, the man and woman stare at Attila while she stares back, splitting her attention between them. For an unknowable amount of time, they stare, and eventually recognize the impasse.

Finally, the woman speaks aloud, “Tell us what you know.” “There’s nothing to tell,” Attila admits, knowing full well that there must be something she can say, but what that thing is remains lost on her. “It’s been a strange day,” the woman consoles; “Let’s just keep it civil.” “Sorry?” Attila asks; “What do you mean by ‘civil’?” The woman looks down at the scissors, adroit, then turns them within her hand. “May I at least have my bag?” Attila gently pleads. “This is not yours,” the man explains. “Of course it is. I lost it at some point,” today?, Attila states with a little defiance. The young man and young woman laugh aloud, albeit softly. “Oh my, oh my,” the woman mocks, and then continues, “I guess this will have to be done another way.” The woman begins to walk toward Attila. Attila evades the young woman, but the man blocks the front door. The man gestures as if compliant and steps out of the way. A straight shot to the stained-glass door. Attila makes a move to exit, and the woman throws a glass vase onto the exposed wooden floor where the rug on which they currently stand comes to an end. The distance to the long, narrow rug that assumedly runs the length of a hallway unseen from this perspective is too vast for Attila to jump safely. Why am I barefoot? “You’re almost naked,” the woman clarifies. Attila looks down, she is indeed almost naked, dressed in nothing but some underwear and a t-shirt. What the fuck? 

She decides to make a run for it and jumps only to land on a few shards of glass. Sharp, the pain from the glass stuck in her right foot makes her hurriedly step down upon her left foot only to pierce her left foot with more glass. She launches herself to the rug in front of the front door. Gently, she reaches down to examine her feet closely. The young man and young woman look amused, and then they look at each other. Precisely, slowly, determined, the woman walks toward Attila and merely walks over the shards of glass as the pieces crinkle and crunch under foot. Attila, almost crying now, crawls toward the front door. Lifting the enormous scissors on high, the woman means to stab Attila through the back. Just as Attila grabs for the door to pull it open, the door falls away from her, and just as she falls through the doorway the scissors make contact with her flesh.

She screams out in pain as she collapses on the floor while a heaping mound of coats, shoes, umbrellas and the like pour out from the closet behind her. “Attila!” yells a voice. Mom? “What did I tell you about playing in that closet?” her mother continues. Weeping, heaving on the ground in unbelievable pain, Attila shouts out, “Mom! I’m going to die!” “What the hell are you talking about? Get up!” her mother berates. “Mom! My feet, my back, I’ve been tortured and stabbed!” Attila continues, convinced. “What? There’s not a thing wrong with you. Get up, now!” her mother shouts even angrier this time as she grabs Attila’s arm to bring her to a stand. What the? Attila gets a look at her feet. Nothing. She pauses for a moment, no pain. She grapples at her back, nothing. And then something even stranger reveals itself to her; she looks at her hands. Why are my hands so small? Why is my mother so … tall? What the fucking hell is … “Go to your room right now! I do not have the time for these games yet again, today, Attila. March!” her mother yells while pointing up a set of stairs. Lost, confused, Attila looks at her mother in disbelief. Her mother’s face softens, “Attila, darling, today’s not a good day. Please, just do as we talked about and play quietly in your room. There are very important people coming over tonight. I need you to be a good little girl, alright?” As her mother spoke, her mother slowly bent down to make eye-to-eye contact as she gently placed one hand on each of Attila’s shoulders, and then almost begs, “Can you please do that for me?” A sharp pain sears through Attila’s mind. She flinches. Her mother watches, “We can talk about whatever’s going on with you tomorrow, okay?” Silent, Attila turns and walks up the stairs. She has no idea where to go, but continues to walk in whatever direction feels right.

A door is cracked open. She walks toward it to find what looks to be a room for a small female child. A sigh. I don’t know. Sitting in the far corner of the room, a full-length mirror looks all too appealing. Attila approaches the mirror, and as she gets a full look at the situation she glimpsed downstairs, a new reality befalls her. She grabs her face, the face of a small child, dressed in a small dress, shod in small, black, patent-leather shoes.

>…<

continued on weekends, until The End^^

…also, on Medium @amateurtattletale

Liminal Illumination II

Liminal Illumination II

“Welcome back, ladies and gentlemen, to the GBC’s season opener! I’m Burke Doris here with Climpt Timothson in Big City, State, watching the Homes put on a show with the Aways. It’s a tied game, folks. So, it’s no surprise that the starters are back in it for this fourth and final quarter of this thrilling basketball game. Niece, Whitele, Gora, Brateck and Tacit are on the floor with Funne, Swind, Hopper, Phael and Chime. The arena is truly electric tonight, don’t you think, Climpt?”

“Why yes indeed, Burke, with these two great teams opening the season for us, it’s always great to watch such a close game.”

“Who do you think’s going to win it? Oh! And Niece easily throws one down for three. Swind takes it back down the court, and oh my goodness, it’s a lob to Phael! Oh, no good.”

“I think that either team has a good chance tonight, Burke. At this point, it’s anyone’s game. But, if I’m being really honest, the Homes seem to have a bit more energy as we enter this final twelve.”

“Yes, I couldn’t agree more. And Hopper’s posting up, but Gora is just too slippery. He lays it in. Even though the game has changed leads about every two minutes so far, it’s clearly the Homes who are dominating now.”

“Yes, sir. This is where the stamina matters a lot. Do you think the bench will get much more time or will the coaches not take the risk?”

“It’s tough to say, Climpt. If I were coaching, it’d be one tough decision. And there goes Swind again, running the length of the court. Will he dunk? Yes! And he throws it down hard.”

“You hate to be the guy under Swind when he jumps it up for a jam.”

“You sure do. You sure do. Now Niece sets up Whitele for another three … and … it’s good!”

“Wow, everyone really is playing like it’s the Finals.”

“Yea, it’s surprising to see this much energy on the first night, but boy, is it exciting.”

“Maybe it’s a sign for a nitty-gritty season.”

“Oh, look here, with the Homes up five points, Niece is coming out for a rest.”

“Interesting. Well, it seems like it’ll be alright for the moment. Funne for the Aways just missed his two free throws.”

“At two and twelve for the night, it might be time to sit Funne out for good. It’s not a good time for an off night, but his defensive skills can’t be ignored.”

“That’s for sure, and yes, absolutely.”

“Alright, well stick around, we’ll return after a word from our sponsors.”

. . .

“The Big Year, GBC season opener is sponsored in part by: Big Name Electronics, serving you and all your game-day needs, Big Name Sporting, gearing up all the greats, including you, and by Big Name Car, taking you the distance.”

“Don’t just watch the game, be part of it. With Big Name Electronics the Big Name TV of your dreams will come true. Watch all your favorite superstars from Davis Whitele to Marshall Funne. No matter who you’re cheering for, we’re cheering for you. Big Name Electronics, serving you and all your game-day needs.”

. . .

“We’re back at the Big City Arena! I’m Burke Doris, here with Climpt Timothson, and an odd little thing happened during the break.”

“It sure did, Burke. The officials had to consult the replay center on the foul committed by Davis Whitele on Marshall Funne. They are notorious rivals who played for the two Big College teams last year, who faced each other in the championship for the big win.”

“Yes, it was a tough time for them when they were drafted into the GBC, but everyone sort of thought they’d let the past die down now that they’re both in the big leagues, Climpt.”

“Well, no player ever forgets a big loss, but it would’ve been nice to see them work it out before the season began.”

“As competitors, though, I’ll say they make for some good basketball, am I right?”

“You sure are, Burke.”

“Getting an update now from the refs, and it looks like they’re saying Funne was actually fouled before the shot, but Funne missed those free throws anyway. They’ll just have to redact the foul against Whitele.”

“Can we just get back to the game? At seventy-five to seventy, the Homes are up by five with a healthy amount of game left to play. Do you think both teams can keep up this severe defensive strategy for the rest of the game?”

“Who knows. It’s possible, right? Anything really is with eight minutes left to play, but it seems like the Homes are getting into the Aways heads a little bit. I mean with Funne not shooting anything really, he’s taking a backseat to Swind’s shooting and the sheer power of Phael. If anything, Funne needs to keep supporting the team and making plays. You know, let the other guys finish.”

“Ha, yea, that would seem like the best thing to do.”

“Speaking of sheer power, Phael dunks it down again hard. Oh but an offensive foul. Whitele will take the ball down. Looks like they’re slowing the pace of the game down.”

“That’s what you want to do when you’re up.”

“But the question remains: Will the Aways push the pace? And Chime with the steal; he throws it ahead to Phael, but it’s knocked loose. Hopper’s on it. No, he throws it away.”

“Man, you gotta just lay that in when you’re under the basket.”

“I guess that answers my question. Doesn’t look like the Aways want to push the pace. Whitele again with the ball; oh my goodness! What a spin move with a hard pass to Niece with the reverse lay up.”

“Yeup. That’s how you finish. Doesn’t matter who’s got the ball. If you can’t finish, you can’t win against these guys.”

“That does seem like what the pre-season showed us. And a timeout by the Aways. Looks like no rest for the weary. But for us, we’re gonna take a break. Stay tuned! We’ll be back after this quick word from our sponsors.”

. . .

“The Big Year, GBC season opener is sponsored in part by: Big Name Electronics, serving you and all your game-day needs, Big Name Sporting, gearing up all the greats, including you, and by Big Name Car, taking you the distance.”

“Hey, aren’t you Jace Phael?”

“Sure am, kid. Who are you?”

“Uh, I’m …”

“Hey you don’t gotta be nervous. I’m just a regular guy. See look, we got the same Big Name kicks on, and I’ll bet you what…”

“What!”

“I bet we got ‘em at the same place.”

“Really? You shop at Big Name Sporting?”

“Yea, little man. Where else would I get these Big Name shoes? Nowhere else but at Big Name Sporting.”

“Wow!”

“So, see, be cool, kid.”

“Thanks, Jace.”

“Even the greatest athletes buy their Big Name shoes at Big Name Sporting. Big Name Sporting, gearing up all the greats, including you.”

. . .

“Here we are for the first night of regular-season basketball in Big City Arena. I’m Burke Doris, here with Climpt Timothson. Climpt, I think it’s probably safe to say that this game’s coming to a quick close.”

“Yea, Burke Doris, with the Homes pulling away with one hundred two points, it doesn’t look like the Aways are going to make up those fifteen points in the last two minutes, but who knows. They’re fighters.”

“Well it was a quiet night for the Homes’ big man, Kimber Tacit, so he’s still in while Davis Whitele and Solomon Niece take a quick rest. Marshall Funne and Jace Phael are still hitting the floor pretty hard, while Russell Hopper and Porter Chime sit out for an, assumedly short rest.”

“I guess, the safe question to ask is: What happened to the Aways? It was such a close game until these last few moments.”

“Well, all coaches know that the psychological aspect of the game is just as demanding as the physical. Maybe the Aways simply being on the road wore them out to the ferocity of the Homes. And Brateck easily lays one in. Swind slowly brings the ball down, passes to Funne, interception by Tav Gora whom we haven’t seen much of tonight except as a stealer. Apparently, though, that’s a serious contribution. Gora passes to Tacit who gently jumps that one in from under the rim.”

“It looks like the Aways have all but given it up to the Homes. What a shame.”

“Well, that’s all from all of us here at Big City Arena where the Homes lock up the first victory of this GBC season. We will see you all in two nights from now in the Next City Arena for, what should be an epic matchup between the Them’s and Us’s! Thanks to all our sponsors at Big Name Electronics, Big Name Sporting, and Big Name Cars. Good night!”

. . .

“This has been a presentation of GBC, brought to you by Big Name Cars.”

“Big Name Cars, taking you the distance.”

“What does it take to go the distance as a GBC player? Well, I’m Davis Whitele, and when I get in my Big Name Car, I’m full of confidence that it will take me where I need to go. Where do I want to go? All the way. To win it, you gotta go the distance.”

“Big Name Cars, taking you the distance.”

[continued here and on Medium most weekends]

Liminial Illumination

Liminial Illumination

“Hello, everybody! I thought that I would just check in with you all today with this video here to share my meditations on beauty and my daily regimen of the ‘Four Hs’ for sanity. I know that the world is a busy place that becomes busier with each passing day, and I also know how important it is to feel your best, to be your best self, and for me that always includes looking my best. If I don’t look good, I definitely don’t feel good. So, this is what I’ve done for all you beauties who want to succeed every day at life.

“First off, I’ve compiled a checklist of the ‘Four Hs’ that you must complete by the end of each day in order to find the balance that I have finally found after all these years of building my expertise on beauty and what that means. They are so important that not only have I outlined what each ‘H’ stands for along with its essence, I’ve also researched the best products that you can use in order to see the quickest results. The important thing to remember is that beauty belongs to you. Whatever you define beauty as is what beauty means to you. So, feel free to use this video as a guide to finding what you consider beautiful. Let’s get started shall we?”

“Hey, man, thanks so much for being here,” the host begins. “Oh yea, of course, it’s my pleasure,” guest one responds gratefully. “So, let’s just get started, shall we?” The guest nods in approval, “Yea, of course, why not!” “Great! So, I hear you have a concern that you’d like to share with all of us,” the host inquires. “Yea, you know how I’m sort of a big deal,” the guest sarcastically suggests as the audience laughs and cheers on cue. “Well, yes, I suppose you wouldn’t be here on my show if you weren’t,” the host complies. “Right. So, yea, I have this concern that has something to do with the color of your couches,” the guest continues. “Oh. I see, and what is it about the color of my couches that is of such great concern?” the host humors. “Yea, see look. I mean, your show is the only show I do watch on late-night television, and the thing I’ve sort of noticed is that a lot of your male guests wears suits that are very close to the color of your sofas, which sort of suggests that maybe the color of the sofas weren’t a great choice. I mean, it’s sort of distracting when a guest almost matches the couches. It makes the guest either look cheap, like, ‘Why does this guy own a suit the same color of sofas on a soundstage?,’ you know?” the guest explains. “Ah ha! I see what you mean. Yes, you, too, have fallen prey to the matchy-ness tonight,” the host jests. “No,” the guest clarifies, “I don’t lie, I watch your show, and look, my suit exactly matches the color of these couches. I even had my manager call your people to find out exactly what color these couches are so that I could buy a suit in exactly the same color. See, it’s like I’m part of your set,” the guest laughs forcibly. “Okay, okay. So, then what color are these couches?” the host asks curiously; “I genuinely don’t know.” “It’s cerulean!” the guest exuberantly states while cheering for himself. “Ah, I see. Well, I suppose there’s not much I can personally do about it, but I’ll be sure to bring it up at the next staff meeting,” the host concedes, and continues, “I’ve gotta say, you are the first person to mention this seemingly outrageous problem to our attention.” The guest feigns ignorance, “Am I really? Wow, that’s sort of incredible. Well, you know, I always just like to do what I can.” “That you do,” the host agrees, and directs, “Well, we have to take a quick break now, but maybe you can hang out with us a bit more and share more discrete observances. And then we’ll talk about why you’re really here. We’ll be right back, folks!”

“Later this year, if you don’t know it already, you know it now … the greatest movie of all time, featuring the greatest actors of all time, depicting the greatest moment of all time hits every big screen across and around the globe. Pay money to see it, or don’t see it at all! The Greatest Movie, Ever! Coming soon to a screen near you.”

“I always start my day around six-thirty in the morning. I usually wake up feeling relaxed and rejuvenated through the last step of each night, which will be the last step of this video. So, what I’m saying is that even though I wake up feeling so rested from my nightly routine, I don’t necessarily feel fresh and lively. Therefore, the most important part of my morning is the first ‘H’ — HYDRATION. Now, let me be clear, hydration is key throughout the entirety of your day, but hydrating fully, first thing in the morning, will change your life. I soooo totally promise. Since I’m such an avid supporter of keeping one’s self hydrated and well-lubricated to take on the day, I first sip water out of this Brand Name water bottle that sits on my nightstand after I fill it with fresh, filtered water the night before. When I wake up, I sit up in my bed and just drink as much water as I can. Sometimes I drink a little too much and then have a funny feeling stomach after my first cup of coffee, but that’s okay. I always feel much better after some breakfast.

“The next ‘H’ stands for HOLISTIC. When I think of holistics, I think wholeness, you know? Like I think of a full-body experience, and that experience comes in the form of a cleanliness. My favorite products come in a Brand Name set that includes cleansers and moisturizers for everything from my face all the way down to my toes. Obviously, the cleansing step needs to be gentlest on the face and strongest on the feet. So, this Brand Name set makes the whole, haha, get it, whole process really easy, which I think makes the system very holistic. There are six bottles included within the set, two for each area of the body. They’re color coded too, so the two face bottles are this gorgeous light blue, the body bottles are this incredible blue blue, and the foot bottles are this, almost like majestic, deep sea blue. Take the face bottles and just cleanse and then moisturize the face. Do the same on your body and your feet, and there you have it! A holistic cleansing system to start off your day while showering and maintaining a holistic sense of cleanliness.

“Now, as your day progresses, different sorts of challenges will come your way, and it’s important to set aside time to HEAL, the third ‘H,’ like right?, to my ‘Four Hs’ for beauty. You know, like how some days are just filled with toxic people or toxic situations? I mean, some days are just totally awesome, but still it’s good to heal from the constant giving of yourself throughout the day. No matter who you are, you give give give, all the time, usually without giving it much thought, you know? So, I think it’s really important to find time throughout your day to heal, and my favorite way to heal is to wash my hands. I love how washing your hands is like a metaphor for washing your sins or washing off the grime from your day. So, that is absolutely why I love Brand Name hand cleanser. I mean, just look at this perfect, purse-sized packaging. It’s just perfect and beautiful. So, I just keep this in my purse so that whenever I need a little moment of healing, I’ll find a washroom where I can wash my hands. Then, the best part is that I then use Brand Name lotion to really set in the rejuvenation. When I return to the world after washing and moisturizing my hands with Brand Name hand cleanser, I always feel healed, ready to take on whatever more the day throws at me. I totally know that it will help you too!”

“Welcome back to My Late-Night Spectacle. We’re here with one of the greatest actors of all time! He will be seen later this year in, The Great Movie, Ever. We have a clip from the movie to show all of you,” the host opens; “Is there anything you’d like to say before we roll it? Do you want to set it up somehow?” “No, not really,” the guest admits. “Alright, then. Here it is for your viewing pleasure,” the host introduces.”

“Later this year, if you don’t know it already, you know it now … the greatest movie of all time, featuring the greatest actors of all time, depicting the greatest moment of all time hits every big screen across and around the globe. Pay money to see it, or don’t see it at all! The Greatest Movie, Ever! Coming soon to a screen near you.”

“Wow!” the host congratulates; “That really looks great.” “Well, thank you, sir,” the host accepts. “I heard that this particular movie only came to be after a huge battle over something. Can you speak to that something at all?” the host asks. “No, not really,” the guest sternly states; “There are matters that ought not be shared in public. I will say this, though, the presumption was that this movie would be the greatest of all time, and so when the producers gave the task to the director to make sure that the movie would be the greatest ever, more than a few battles ensued, if you know what I mean,” the guest alludes. “Well, no we don’t know what you mean, but whatever. We’ve got to get to our musical guest for the night. Thank you so much for being here, man,” the host graciously excuses; “We’re gonna take a quick break, but stick around! When we return, So-And-So performs her new hit single, ‘Such-And-Such’!”

“Music makes the world go ‘round. Music is what makes life special. Access your favorite tunes from the hippest artists anywhere at any time with no fees, no suggests, and no commercials. STAUNCH provides everything you’d ever want to hear, even those songs you never thought you would ever love. Through the range of your device, STAUNCH brings every perfect harmony directly to you at no cost. Simply open your device to the STAUNCH service, and we’ll take care of all your data forever. No payments, no hassle, thank music! STAUNCH, we’re here to give you what you want.”

“Finally, the most important time of my day begins around ten at night when I cut myself off from the world as a small HIATUS. I think it’s important to not be so connected all day, so I usually take a bath, alone, with no distracting elements so that I can enjoy a nice little hiatus away from everything. The product I absolutely adore is Brand Name bath time soaps and suds. I just drop the Brand Name, wonderful smelling, bauble into the tub, and it transports me away from the ugliness in the world, into my own little sanctuary where I can feel beautiful and be beautiful. I mean, that’s the whole point of all of this anyway, right? I want to be as beautiful as I feel, and the Brand Name baubles do it for me every time I need a little escape.

So, there you have it, my ‘Four Hs’ to healthy living! Follow my regimen, and I know that you will find your beauty, too. You can have exactly this same luxurious day if you follow the links on my page where you can buy all of these Brand Name items for yourself. My ‘Four Hs’ for beauty have led me to where I am today. Without them, I don’t know what I’d do. I know you’ll love it too! Alright, well that’s all for this video. I hope you all have a great, beauty-filled day! Muah!”

“And now, please welcome the most popular single of the day on STAUNCH, ‘Such-And-Such,’ performed by the highest-rated artist on STAUNCH, ‘So-And-So,’ here to perform her most popular single.”

If you want to hold tight

Lovers in the moonlight

Givers from the highest height

Reach for something

Reach for anything

If you want to hold tight

Lovers in the moonlight

Reach for everything

[chorus]

Sometimes people never know

Sometimes people never know

What you say

What you say

What you say

You mentioned me out there

Over you my heart tears

Go beyond to face fears

Search for something

Search for anything

You mentioned me out there

Over you my heart tears

Search for everything

[chorus]

Sometimes people never know

Sometimes people never know

What you say

What you say

What you say

All I wanna do is make a move

All I wanna do is see the proof

To feel and share the love of all the world

All the world

All the world

[chorus]

Sometimes people never know

Sometimes people never know

What you say

What you say

What you say

If you want to hold tight

Lovers in the moonlight

Givers from the highest height

Reach for something

Reach for anything

If you want to hold tight

Lovers in the moonlight

Reach for everything

[chorus]

Sometimes people never know

Sometimes people never know

What you say

What you say

What you say

“‘So-And-So,’ ladies and gentlemen! You can access the single on Staunch! Have a great night! See you tomorrow, here in the same place at the same time! Good night!”

An Assistant & A Lingerer

An Assistant & A Lingerer

“It is not a matter of good versus bad, nor is it a matter of what might be better or best. The issue revolves solely around determining what proves to be the most productive way to not only disseminate but also, to communicate the story.”

“That sounds like a matter of best-ness, ma’am.”

“Assuredly, it is not.”

“Why then am I here at all?”

“Everyone ought to be given a chance, if only one. Do you not agree?”

“I agree.”

“Perfect. Pray tell then how it is that you shared this story with people who have repeatedly shown that they do not deserve to know this story.”

“I didn’t tell anyone. I would never point at that which ought not be pointed.”

“Then who pointed?”

“Ma’am, I promise that I do not know who would do such a thing.”

“I believe you.”

“Thank you, ma’am.”

“There is one small problem, however.”

“Ma’am?”

“Stop right here.”

“I thought … ”

“Go ahead, look through the window into that room there.”

“ … ”

“Ah, but now you know the problem.”

“ … ”

“Who is that?”

“I … I can’t remember.”

“I believe you.”

“You do?”

“Of course not.”

“Honestly, ma’am, I do not remember.”

“Which is it? You do not remember, or you cannot remember?”

“Please. I … I just … What do you want from me?”

“Nothing, Lingerer. We’ve already discussed how this apparently has nothing to do with you.”

“No?”

“No.”

“Then why am I here?”

“Well, it’s simple really. The story was told, and of course, by now, you must have some small insight into who it is who must have told. No?”

“Yes, I do believe I understand.”

“Good. So, if you do not know that person sitting but a few feet away, then you’ll gladly enter the space to gather a more-rounded sense of his account.”

“Yes. Anything for you ma’am.”

“Excellent.”

“Am I to question him now?”

“Of course.”

“I see.”

“Is there a problem?”

“ … No … ma’am … I … what … What is it exactly am I supposed to ask him?”

“That is why you are here.”

“Understood.”

“One other quick thing, Lingerer.”

“Yes.”

“Be quite quick.”

“But I don’t know what it is that you want.”

“You can imagine what it might be, however, yes?”

In the Light of Shadow

In the Light of Shadow

A crystal-like chandelier floats just below the ceiling of a long-narrow room. The width of the room fits only the chandelier, and the width of the chandelier echoes that of a person in good health. Sparkling, white, as if from nowhere the light flickers throughout the space creating patterns seen only against the shadows it makes. Lacking physical bulbs of light, the chandelier, as if from within, merely emanates a rich, stimulating glow. Ever so often the baubles gently clink against each other creating the twinkling sounds to which all other sounds are compared. Round, perfectly spherical, the chandelier begins to slowly rotate around its center.

Fuchsia, the light of the chandelier slowly grows in intensity as it changes hues. Red. A rod iron bistro chair rests in one far edge of the room, and on the chair rests the older woman. Legs crossed, right over left, the older woman sits calmly with hands folded upon her lap. The older woman inhales a deep breath. With an exhale, the older woman must wait. The chandelier returns to its colorless clarity.

Cerulean, the light of the chandelier slowly grows in intensity as it changes hues. Blue. A brown leather armchair appears in the far edge of the room, opposite the rod iron chair, and on the chair appears the storming woman. Cross-legged, fully comfortable upon the ample chair, the storming woman cautiously places her elbows upon her knees, clasps each hand with the other, her chin rests upon her hands. The storming woman stares at the older woman who sits across from her on the other side of the long, narrow room.

Returned to its colorless sparkle, the chandelier greets them both, “A bridge burns.” The women sit, the older woman quite stiff and unapproachable, the storming woman quite relaxed albeit on guard. “It’s the way, Attila, through which all ways are made,” the older woman speaks aloud. “It’s the way, Ma’am, by which all things are learned,” the storming woman responds. They sit, each staring at the other, for an unknowable amount of time.

Laughing, the older woman concedes, “She cannot know what she does not know.” “Unknowing,” the storming woman explains. “Could not,” the older woman again concedes. The storming woman feels a tingle of suspicion, “A gap in knowledge does not ignorance make, however.” “Everyone relies on some truth, no matter how small,” the older woman replies. “A fabricated truth is still truth.” “Of course. A fabricated lie is also truth.” “Of course.”

The room bends. A realization immediately hits them both. “Attila,” the older woman warns. “No,” the storming woman demands. The chandelier begins to slowly blink. Keen on the change, both women dart their eyes to the light’s source. “Curse you!” the storming woman yells. Chartreuse. “And to you too, dear,” the older woman calmly responds. The sound a tree branch makes when a branch breaks sears through the tiny space. Black.

Empty, the room returns itself back to a long, narrow shape. The chandelier shakes itself off like a wet cat. Clear, crystal-like, sparkling and clean, the light spreads patterns against shadow throughout a place where color forfeits.

 

The Circle’s Corner

The Circle’s Corner

“You said that last time, but what you fail to understand is that we’re in a large sphere.” Ladybug looks at the lorikeet, “What did you just say to me?” “Do you want me to repeat what I just said?” the lorikeet asks, filling with concern. “Yes,” Ladybug demands. The lorikeet looks about itself a bit, “Well, I said that you said that last time, but we’re in a sphere.” “No, the other stuff,” Ladybug groans with a get-on-with-it gesture. The lorikeet lowers its beak and sighs, “I said that you fail to understand …” “Yep, that’s it.” “I didn’t mean to …” “But you did,” Ladybug smirks. Content, the two continue fluttering around.

“Yea, there it is. That corner right there,” Ladybug points. Around again they swoop by as the corner disappears. “What in all hell?” Ladybug whispers. “I think you’re right there, Birdie.” Knowing better, the lorikeet remains silent. “So, you know what to do in this instance?” Ladybug asks. The lorikeet perks up a bit at the thought of being needed, “Yea, but you’re not going to like it.” “Just. C’mon,” Ladybug groans. “Well, the light’s off,” the lorikeet explains. “What? Now? How?” Ladybug shouts. They come to a rest on a small tile ledge floating a little lower than their flying altitude. “The Monitors,” the lorikeet states solemnly. “Only maybe. Shit,” Ladybug sighs.

Preening, the lorikeet quietly calms itself. Ladybug, mulling over the situation finally asks, “When?” “At Midnight.” “No, not when, Birdie, when?” Ladybug retorts. Somber, the lorikeet lowers its head and sighs, “Just after the Listmaker finished the list about which you flew to him.” Ladybug falls back onto its haunches, “How do you know this?” “You summoned me. Remember?” “Right,” Ladybug remembers; “Right after I left, and now we’re here.” Ladybug moves itself to the top of the lorikeet’s head, “Sit.”

“Perhaps, I ought to have shouted this news at you at the beginning?” the lorikeet realizes. “You’re just realizing this now?” Ladybug laughs. “There’s nothing you could have done, and there’s nothing we can do now except wait.” Silently, the lorikeet twiddles the feathers on its wingtips as Ladybug rolls around on its back, each leg grasping every other. The Listmaker. “So where is the Listmaker?” the lorikeet asks aloud. “He is wherever he is that he goes when the Monitors turn off the light.”

“Where is that?”

“No one knows.”

“So he’s there now?”

“I hope so.”

“This has never happened before?”

“Not that I’ve known about?”

“And what’s going to happen to us?”

“Not sure about that either.”

“What are the potential outcomes?”

“I’ve never been here.”

“Oh.”

Suddenly, the slow zipper crunch of celery being cut through the grain, specks of purple light begin to fall through the zipper-shaped crack in the side of the sphere directly behind them. “What do we do now?” the lorikeet asks. “She sees us,” Ladybug explains. “Who?” “Not who, when,” Ladybug corrects. “When has come to see us?” “Yes.” “So what do we do now?” the lorikeet reiterates. “We jump!” Ladybug shouts as it jumps with all of its might off the head of the lorikeet, sails through the time of the sphere and clumsily lands on a purple droplet of light. Afraid, the lorikeet shifts its weight from one foot to the other and then again and again, “I don’t know.” “Fly, Birdie! Just fly!” And with this, the lorikeet closes its eyes, jumps up off the tile ledge and flaps straight for another purple droplet of light.

Just as the droplet of purple light catches the lorikeet, the two are thrown as if off a large sheet into the air. At the height of their ascent, the Swinging Leaves giggle and gently pluck both the lorikeet and Ladybug out of the Circle’s Corner and onto the roof of a small thatched, bamboo hut. “Thanks,” Ladybug waves. The Singing Leaves sway and sing a simple song. Exhausted, the lorikeet passes out to the tune. “Psht, figures,” Ladybug scoffs as the lorikeet hunkers down into sleep. Taking a look around, Ladybug whispers to itself, “The middlemost peak where the three peaks meet.”

“And you must be Ladybug, The Listmaker’s prized messenger,” a husky but cheerful voice calls out. Ladybug whips around so fast that its wings deploy and send it clear across to the other side of the roof. A short time later, Ladybug arrives back at the other side of the roof, takes a look over the edge into the radiant face of Fate. “Hello, Miss,” Ladybug bows with the flourish of its right arm and hand while tucking its left behind it. “Hi, Ladybug. I’ve missed you,” Fate smiles. “I’ve missed you so much, So Jeong,” Ladybug admits as it flutters down onto the uplifted hand So Jeong offers with delight.

“You’ve a message?” So Jeong asks, well knowing the urgent nature of Ladybug’s travels. “Unfortunately, I do not,” Ladybug admits. It clears its throat and then immediately puts on a face, “The Listmaker knows of your predicament, and The Listmaker wrote you a list.” “That sounds like a message to me,” So Jeong challenges with a wink. “I suppose you’re right. I mean, of course you are always right. I just mean that that was not what I needed to say,” Ladybug stammers. “Well am I made to wait in suspense for your enjoyment?” So Jeong asks, still delighted by her friend. Ladybug takes a deep breath, “Right after I delivered your message and I secured The Listmaker’s list, I left. I had other things to do. Apparently, however, sometime shortly after I left, the light went out.” So Jeong let out a tiny gasp, “At that time?” Sighing deeper now, Ladybug responds and continues, “Yes. I had summoned the lorikeet to help me with my next message for some squirrels who continue to, never mind, that’s not important. What’s important is that the light is out at The Listmaker’s Ranch. We suspect the Monitors, of course, but who would do this?”

Taking in all that Ladybug has said, So Jeong sits upon a purple silk pillow. Ladybug flutters to a petal of the flower rooted just in front of the pillow upon which So Jeong sits. “I don’t know what to do,” Ladybug laments. “You’re not supposed to know,” So Jeong answers as she leans down to fetch Ladybug from the petal. A sigh of relief relaxes Ladybug into a stupor, “Tell me what to do So Jeong, and I will do it.” Gently, So Jeong stands and fetches the lorikeet from the roof. Carefully, she asks the Singing Leaves for a nest. Softly, she lowers the two creatures into the nest, “Rest, Ladybug. Just rest. This is no longer your problem.” And ever so quietly Ladybug drifts off into peaceful sleep as it whispers, “It’s not on the list.” To which So Jeong replies, “It’s always on the list. Sleep.”

And then So Jeong turns toward me, “Lingerer.” “Yes,” I respond. “Come with me,” So Jeong instructs.