No hope of recovery meant that he didn’t have to worry anymore about the sorts of calamities that other people face. He would have no relationships. He would never have a job again, and though money was an issue, he wouldn’t have to worry about it. No one could move him from the house.

“Get up!” his brother shouted. “I know you can. You don’t fool me for a minute.”

Reggie made a sincere attempt. He held the walker with both hands and threw himself off the bed. He had no muscles, and the effort was extreme. When he collapsed in a pile of skin, his brother scoffed.

“You need to exercise more,” he said.

Reggie did his best to nod as he was lifted over the bedpan. Because his brother seemed particularly miffed, he wanted to finish quickly, but he had no control over his body.

Most of an hour later, something finally fell out of him, and he tried to apologize for taking so long.

“What’s that? Speak up.”

Reggie couldn’t raise his jaw once it had fallen.

“Why are you even alive? If you don’t die or stop faking soon, I may have to finish the job myself.” He threw Reggie back into his bed without pulling up the pajama bottoms. The blankets were on the floor.

He would never have to do his own taxes. He would never have to choose between his family and his career. Never would he have to stand in line at the DMV.

#family, #helpless, #optimism, #pitilessness, #sickness, #uncomfortable


Farahad knocked against the tree again. He was sure he heard a voice calling out to him from underground. Somewhere in this graveyard was a prisoner. She sounded desperate, though her screams were incoherent.

He tried pushing gravestones. He felt against the lone tree for any kind of mechanism or passageway, but it seemed to shy from his touch. The cries from beneath squeezed through narrow passages where no creature would fit, so he grabbed the earth with his hands and made his own way down.

He sank into the ground. In no time at all, the soil had softened as water, and he dived in. Following her sobs, he swam and fell into a room, empty, save the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. She was the sole source of light, and she hung from the wall as a lantern.

She saw him and wept, “You shouldn’t have come.”

Farahad listened as she told him how she came to be here, of the lover she refused to betray and the jealous genie who transformed him and took her captive. “Every night as the sun fades from the western sky, he takes me down and canes me with a rod from my husband’s tree, until I am made to sleep from exhaustion.”

“That’s terrible,” he said. “I wish I could do something.”

Behind him, the genie rose from the depths of the earth and spoke. “You can free her if you want. If you are willing to take her place, she and her husband can live in peace.”

“Oh,” said Farahad.

“You noble man! I never would have believed that one would trade his life for ours.”

“Oh,” he said again.

Only a good man would have investigated those screams, he told himself later. Only the best.

#arabian-night, #microfiction, #overcommitted, #polite-cough, #uncomfortable