A cashew, alone, rested on the counter.
The cashew was supposed to be part of a meal, now being consumed out in the dining room. Someone was supposed to have thrown it on the cutting board, chopped it up, sprinkled the crushed bits all over someone else’s meal. But they hadn’t.
Someone was supposed to eat the cashew, discover it had bacteria on it. Nothing too harmful. Just a little bit of a bug, something to make them a little unwell for a day or two, wandering around and burping. No big deal.
But no, the cashew rested on the counter, forgotten. In an hour or so, it would be picked up, tossed into the compost bin, sent out to trash. Never used, slowly rotting, eaten only be micro-organisms that would leave it a pile of dirt.
Kirk was cold, but he refused to wear a coat.
It’s not that he didn’t see the good in them. Kirk knew that coats would keep him warm, make him stop shivering, prevent the near-frostbite he regularly incurred.
It was just the look of them. So crude. So lame. So boring. Kirk couldn’t do that.
So he strutted around like everything was fine, his cool shirt buttoned only just so far, so he could be intelligent yet stylish, professional but playful. And when people didn’t look, he shook a little bit, trying to preserve what heat he could.
The cold wouldn’t beat Kirk. The winter could only go so far, he thought.
“I did it,” Elsa said. “It was me.”
“What was you?” the officer asked.
“It. Everything. It was me.”
The officer sighed. “That’s not why you’re here, ma’am.”
“Doesn’t matter. It was all me. I’m sorry, it’ll never happen again.”
“What if I told you it was murder?”
“…won’t happen again.”
“Ma’am, you realized a false confession doesn’t help you, or anyone else? Just makes everything more difficult, and puts makes it more likely we’ll charge you as well as whoever did what you’re confessing about?”
“There is no whoever. It was me.”
The officer rolled his eyes. “Alright, I guess we’ll have to get the electric chair ready for you now then. Steve?”
“Wait!” Else said.
“…I didn’t do it.”
“Great, so let’s start again, shall we?”
Nana was dancing with the turkey. Grandpa had antenna glued to his ears. The dog laughed maniacally. Monica didn’t know what was going on.
It wasn’t like the day started with this madness. But bit by bit – a twitch here, a floating bowl there – the world had changed, right-side-up was upside-down and vice versa, and everyone was twirling round and round.
Monica wondered if she’d ingested something she shouldn’t, but no, she hadn’t had anything but a cup of coffee.
Perhaps this was just life and her new grandparents’ place. Her boyfriend seemed unconcerned about it all. He just smiled, reached over, pinched her cheek, and winked his third eye at her.
Monica smiled back, and pretended like it was all okay.
The toilet was gross, crusted with bits of things. The handle was broken, the lid off centre. There were stains in the bowl, of what, no one should know.
Errol shrugged and sat. He swiped on his phone. When he finished, he flushed, and returned to the living, wondering if he should tidy up a bit before his date arrived.
Ailene’s world teetered around her, and she didn’t care.
The newspapers were piled high, almost to the ceiling. The books were tucked in around those, in every nook and cranny. Magazines filled the spaces that books were too thick for. Every millimetre was filled, but for the small spot Ailene sat, and the requisite path to the doorway.
It hadn’t started that way. The place had been clean and bare when she moved in. But day after day, she added another bit of reading material to the room, and day after day it became a little more cramped. Now, the room was all but unusable, save for her sitting spot, and the way out.
When she finished her current bit of reading, Ailene stood. She tucked the book back into its hole and left the room.
The rest of the house was nearly empty. She needed the space, after all. In the next room, there was the beginnings of a pile of newspapers, only 7 papers high so far. But it would grow.
The canal between the two houses was short, not particularly useful. The distance was some thirty metres, all told. One could walk it faster than they could prepare and launch the boat, row, and arrive and dock the boat.
But it was the principle of the thing.
Quentin and Roland had been neighbours for ages. When Quentin bought his Mercedes, Roland bought a BMW. When Roland bought a timeshare, Quentin bought a villa.
With so much competition, it was only a matter of time before it went to boats. But first, they needed a canal.
So they worked together, paying for the offshoot of the nearby waterway, building a canal between their houses so they could travel to each other’s parties in style. When the canal was complete, Quentin bought a sailing boat; Roland, a small yacht.
And so they enjoyed their travel to each other’s houses, while the neighbours shook their heads.
The buttons were falling.
Everywhere Celeste looked, buttons were falling. In the stores, they were popping off clothing. Outside, they were falling from the sky. Waterfalls had turned to buttons, and flowed over edges into great button pits that moved along like rivers, but the rivers were buttons.
It was a very confusing time for Celeste.
The buttons were all shapes and sizes. Some large, for winter coats. Some tiny, for teddy bear eyes. Some practical, for pants. Some decorative, for military uniforms.
The buttons kept falling and falling, and no one understood it. If it didn’t stop, the world would soon be overwhelmed by buttons. There was nothing to be done, but to put our jars and collect what you could. Worries for the button companies would come later. For now, it was buttons everywhere.
Leah gathered three friends and arranged them like a car. “Ready everyone?” she said. They nodded. “Good. I’m the driver, but everyone keep your distances right. This’ll be hilarious.”
They started to jog along the little road. A car came up behind them, and slowed to match their pace.
They reached the gate, and Leah mimed rolling down a window. The person at the gate sighed. “All four?”
“Okay, the pedestrian spots are up front. If you want to rent a blanket, visit the snack bar.”
“I don’t know what you mean, we’re here at the drive-in to watch from our car!” Her friends snickered.
“Whatever,” the gate keeper said. “Move along please.”
They started jogging again, everyone pleased with how they had pulled off the joke.
Otis sat down, and the whoopee cushion deflated.
It didn’t deflate with the usual fart-like sound. It was a dollar store item, made cheaply, with little quality assurance testing. It was probably off gassing something terrible and cancerous, too, but Otis didn’t mind that.
Standing up again, he waited for the thing to inflate, chatting with others at the party while the self-inflating mechanism did its thing. After a moment, it looked ready.
Otis sat again, and again, it was a silent one. Which was fine in normal circumstances, as the reaction from others was even better when the smell hit. But when you were going for glitzy, flashy farts, silent wouldn’t do.
Lacking any other alternatives, Otis stuck his tongue out and made a poor imitation of the poor imitation a whoopee cushion made, with his tongue. Everyone at the party turned and laughed.