Introvert

A robin, hopping around a mushroom, seemed unconcerned with food for the moment, more interested in the little shade that had sprung from the earth. The lip was high enough off the ground that she could fit underneath, and this concept seemed fresh and new. She jumped from the sun to the shade and back into the sun, unsure what she liked most.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing there?” The man was trying to disguise the contempt of his voice in big avuncular tones. Amy appreciated the effort, but he was still a feral pig coming straight for her.

“Just watching,” she replied. He wanted to know what she was watching, but the man’s bounding enthusiasm had startled the bird, who was gone. Amy didn’t know enough about mushrooms to pretend she was noting a rare species, and said nothing.

“You’re on my property, so I’d appreciate if you finished up your business and went home.” He wobbled away, through the grass, leaving piles of powdered mushroom in his wake.

The party was a few houses down. College students pecked at each other against every hard surface. Their bodies were pressed together, one hand apiece free for red cups of cheap, available beer, which they sipped alternating with faces.

“Well look who it is!”

“Where’d you come from?”

All her friends were so young. After the initial surprise of seeing her, they put a drink in her hand and went back to their own peer group.

“Let me introduce you. This is Amy. She’s an artist.” The student looked from Amy’s feet to her chest and walked away, shrugging.

Amy sat outside, in the grass recently watered with beer and vomit. “Why don’t you come out more often?” someone said.

#agoraphobia, #artist, #birds, #introvert, #microfiction, #party, #quiet, #social-anxiety, #social-phobia

God

Just as he said the word “darkness,” the power went out. His parishioners called it a miracle. Reverend Gupton was grateful for the vote of confidence, but he found it hard to believe that God would waste a miracle on such measly punctuation.

God, however, knew that such a petty miracle would throw him off Her scent. For years, the Reverend Gupton had had been drawing attention to Her work, even though She did everything in her power to assert Her non-existence.

In his next sermon, She flooded the bathroom. He was talking about Moses in the desert. The church considered it another miracle anyway, and attendance soared.

For the next few Sundays, anytime he mentioned evil, or demons, or anything regarding the nether world, She sent sun through the windows, into Rev. Gupton’s face. He held his hand to the light.

“It’s just coincidence,” he said eventually, from the pulpit. “God isn’t trying to impress any of us. If anything, He wants us to focus on what’s in front of us, not on lofty possibilities.”

She didn’t disagree with his point. He was entirely correct about her and her views. However, putting her intentions out like that made her feel incredibly self-conscious. Not to mention, he was robbing people of their own insights.

She rearranged a few trees so that the light gave him the appearance of horns. A few concerned gasps drew attention to the sight, and the shadow moved with him.

“For the last time,” he said, “this isn’t God. God doesn’t exist!”

She turned her attention away from the preacher, just as She hoped he’d do it return. It’s hard to be yourself while anyone’s watching.

#agoraphobia, #blasphemy, #god-is-love, #microfiction, #pascals-other-wager, #pascals-wager, #social-anxiety, #social-phobia, #theology

Celebrity

Though she had her collar pulled around her face and generic dark glasses over her eyes, glances accumulated as she emptied her cart onto the conveyor belt. Soon a normal would say something.

“Is that Nancine?”

“I think so!”

She pretended not to hear. She had headphones on after all, giant 1980s style cans. How much of her face did she have to cover before she could hide?

Reaching for the divider, she looked up at the tabloids, just to see what they were saying about her today.

“Nancine Snubs Lovers, Buys Cucumbers”

“Is the icon out of touch with salad trends?”

The cashier made no comment as he bagged her produce. He wished her a good weekend in a welcome, impersonal way.

On the news that night, he described the interaction as “forced.” The newscaster pressed him for more details, and he gave them, describing her clothes and her furtive, prey-animal movements.

“Do you think she’s hiding something?”

“Almost definitely.”

Nancine took another bite of her cucumber sandwich and changed the channel. Some pundits were debating whether her friends had abandoned her or she had abandoned her friends. Had they simply drifted apart? Somebody must know.

The noise of the debate put her to sleep. Tomorrow she would call someone, she told herself. She didn’t have the energy today, but tomorrow, she would.

#absurd, #celebrity, #microfiction, #mundane, #social-anxiety, #social-phobia

Tiny Dragons

His phone was ringing. Gerry didn’t mind calls, especially on a Friday night at home, but Fjorik’s nostrils flared, and it was best not to challenge Fjorik. Bjornhard and Thuumbrig were more agreeable, but Gerry doubted he would challenge them either.

The phone rang again. Somehow it sounded more urgent this time. Gerry picked it up and looked at the display. Holding his breath, he accepted the call. Fjorik rolled over onto his knee.

“Hey, Nancy. What’s going on?” She had nothing prepared. She had called just to talk. He had nothing prepared either, but now they were talking.

“How’s your mother? Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. Lots of people go through worse though, so I wouldn’t worry too much.” Bjornhard lifted an eyebrow. Thuumbrig turned his head. “Yeah, I’m great. I couldn’t complain if I tried, not that I’m going to try.”

Fjorik was squinting. Every word Gerry said irritated him more.

Gerry wanted to end the conversation, but it hadn’t really begun. He couldn’t well hang up until the call had been justified.

“So do you have any plans tonight?” he heard himself say. He couldn’t believe he said it. The three ancient beasts lifted their eyes and stared Gerry straight in the throat. Thuumbrig sharpened his claws against the scales on his opposite forearms. Fjorik spit a tiny flame that Gerry swatted out with his free hand. He swallowed. “That sounds nice. I’d love to come, I really would. But I’m afraid I have other plans tonight.”

Some other time.

Together, the wyrms closed their eyes, and curled their necks downward, at peace. Gerry reached out to pet them, but they didn’t like to be touched.

He crossed his arms and held himself close.

#absurd, #agoraphobia, #awkward, #dragons, #microfiction, #mythical-creatures, #social-anxiety, #social-phobia