Frank’s Ferns

140302_203245Frank was the proud owner of a relatively successful shop that sold houseplants. “Frank’s Ferns” it was called, as it specialized in ferns. He had a salt water fish tank on the counter across from the register where he could watch his little octopus friend Oliver when the store was empty, which happened on occasion, but he didn’t mind because he made plenty of money.

He had noticed that the next storefront over, which had sat empty for almost two months had started undergoing a renovation. He had received a memo from shopping center management, that told him all about his new neighbor. He liked the idea of having someone in that spot, but he didn’t particularly care who it was, so he hadn’t read the memo. The memo had been filed away in the special filing cabinet that, at the end of every business day, he took out to the big green metal receptacle in the parking lot marked with three arrows chasing each-other.

Frank was watching Oliver creep across the bottom of the tank when the bell on the door chimed and he looked up to see a tall thin man in his mid-forties wearing flip-flops, a pair of cargo shorts, and a Hawaiian shirt.

“Good afternoon,” Frank greeted with a smile.

“Afternoon,” the man said, walking directly toward the register, glancing around as he did so, “cute store you have here.”

“Thanks,” Frank said, he didn’t like the man’s tone, he felt like the man was about to try to sell him something. “Anything in particular you are looking for?”

“Let me introduce, myself, I’m Martin,” the man said, sticking his hand out, “of Martin’s Sea Fantasy.”

When Frank didn’t show any recognition at the name, the man offered, “Your new neighbor.”

Frank smiled then and took the man’s hand. “Frank. Nice to meet you Martin. Welcome to the Green Mountain Shopping Center. What do you sell?”

The man nodded his head toward Frank’s fish tank and said, “Aquatic pets and the like, mostly salt water, some fresh. That’s a nice little octopus, you got there, Frank.”

“Thanks, I like him. Name’s Oliver,” he said.

Martin stopped for a moment and looked back at Oliver, a small amount of concern on his face, “him?”


“Hate to tell you this,” Martin said, pointing at Oliver through the glass and looking Frank in the eyes, “but Oliver is a girl.”

“Oh,” Frank said, not upset that Oliver was female, but that he had been calling her “little guy” all this time. Feeling a little stupid, he decided to change the subject. “Well, it’ll be good to have someone in that space again.”

“Yeah, I’m looking forward to it.”

“So what can I do for you?” Frank asked.

“Well, I just moved to town, I could use some plants for my new apartment.”

Frank smiled, “You came to the right place, then.”

“Those are some nice ferns,” Martin said, nodding his head towards the ferns by the door.

“Ferns are my specialty here,” Frank said with great pride, “and to welcome you to the center, I’ll give you a thirty percent discount on whatever you choose.”

Martin’s smile was broad, “That’s very generous of you Frank, thank you. I was wondering, though, if maybe you would be interested in a trade.”

Frank suddenly didn’t feel so generous, “What did you have in mind?”

“Maybe we can get Oliver there a new friend, or some decorations,” he said, pausing briefly, but noticing that Frank didn’t seem to be interested, he continued, “I just got in a new shipment of beautiful sea anemones.”

Frank sighed, then gestured to his prized ferns and said, “Martin, with ferns like these, who needs anemones?”


The Amber Box


I can’t sleep. Not that I’m not tired, I’m always tired now, but when I know they are watching me, it’s hard to fall asleep.

The sodium lights in the parking lot shine through my second story window, painting a large amber colored rectangle on the wall. Sometimes it looks like the window, sometimes it looks more like a painting, but I know what it is; it’s a door. Just like the dark spot in a wall of light is a passageway into darkness, the bright spot in a sea of shadows would be a door from a world of inky blackness to our own.

Sometimes I see them, standing in the door. Their roughly human form a two dimensional silhouette in an amber box. At first I thought it was a shadow from outside. I thought maybe it was some real life peeping tom at my window. If only that were true. It would be upsetting but I could have done something about it. In the beginning I would wake up in the middle of the night and my heart would peter to a near halt when my eyes fell on that human shaped shadow in the amber box on my wall. I would catch my breath and as soon as I could make myself move I would look through the window to find nothing but an empty parking lot and that incessantly humming street light. Turning to look at the amber box I would find only my own shadow, trapped in the glowing rectangle, my hair shaped like my pillow and my posture betraying my terror.

I tried sleeping in the living-room, but my couch is a piece of shit, and the rigidness of the hardwood floors can’t be hidden by a blanket. Now I just lay in my bed, trying not to look, unable to sleep because I know they are there, watching.

Reverse Pinocchio


He always hated children.

He never had kids of his own and when he died, he left his small piece of land to a friend. His only wish was to be cremated, his ashes mixed with the soil, and a redwood planted to absorb his body’s nutrients. That way, his friends and family would have a place to come and speak to him.

As the years passed, though, the few that had ever come to visit stopped coming. The land passed from his friend’s hands to another, and the distinction of the tree was remembered by none.

The tree grew tall and forgotten.

Many years later, the tree was cut down and turned into a picnic table. The land became part of a park and the table became a place where children liked to carve their names and little hearts.

He always did hate children.

Is That Why It’s Called Grave-ity?

140210_211710In lecture Dr. Conroy had said “Gravitation is the attraction between bodies.”

It doesn’t compute. I’m sitting here, crammed shoulder to shoulder with all these other students, all these other bodies, but I don’t stick to them. I stick the the ground, we all stick to the ground.

I am about to give up and move on, but then I have an epiphany. The only explanation is that there are way more bodies buried under the ground that we are attracted to. Since there are more of them, the attraction is stronger toward the ground. I grin as I erased the work I have so far, it is such an elegant, simple solution. I look around at the other students writing furiously; they obviously don’t get it.

I’m going to ace this midterm for sure.