One of the Lies I Tell My Children (#5)
5. If they do not clean their room, pretty soon it will be declared a health hazard and systems will be installed in and around the area to prevent the spread of slime mold from the air conditioner to the attic. In the mornings when they get dressed for school my children will have to pass through a decontamination chamber, where I will scrub them and disinfect them, and where they will ask, in their weary voices, “Is this really necessary? The slime mold is our friend.” At night, its black, iridescent fingers will feel around the surfaces of the room, eventually creeping its way onto their pillows and their sheets, and they will encourage it with the sugar water and the potato chips they deliberately smear over their faces. In the beginning, the slime mold will be wary of the offer and retreat every morning when the alarm goes off and I come knocking on their door; then gradually it will grow comfortable with the arrangement and grow stalks inside their nostrils, which will be jellied and metallic, giving the appearance of nose rings or other piercings. When summer arrives the children will have no reason to go outside and will hide in their room, feeding their new mold pet, giving it swathes and patches of their flesh for it to stretch out and grow spores. One day, the mold will take over, and what were once children will become host beds for the oozing, aromatic fungus creeping up between their toes; and because I love them and know how much they love to be dirty I will hook them up to saline drips with glucose and allow the mushrooms to grow in the recesses of their body. It will be a slow process, occurring gradually over weeks and months, and necessitating a great deal of patience and understanding from me. Eventually, when school starts, my children will not be able to get out of bed, so I will stand over them, wishing I could see their hair under all the fungus. I will reach my hand out to stroke them, and in their strange unicellular way the slime molds will reach back, like flowers to the sun.
One of the Lies I Tell My Children (#14)
14. If they do not turn the music down, the neighbors and I will hire a rival band to host shows in our living room every evening when my children are trying to listen to their music. The band will in all likelihood be an indie band, the kind with a cello and a drummer and a repertoire of dreamy synth-pop power ballads that will keep my children up all night. “Mom,” my children will whine. “Can you please tell them to go? It’s twelve-thirty, and we have to go to school in the morning.” But by then the band's singer will be famous, and people will drive from miles around to listen to her new solo work on beanbag chairs in the basement while the rest of the band drinks upstairs in the kitchen and wonders if they should break up. I will not suggest they do this, because, in spite of the noise and the significant loss of sleep, I will have become enamored of the music, or rather of the feeling I get when they play it in a crowded room to a drunken audience that is really just a collection of my neighbors, all too tired of their lives or too in love with them to toddle home and go to sleep; and because of this I'll let them play on until the clock reads two or three and it’s just me and the cellist alone in my living room, while a fan whirls overhead. “I have kids,” I’ll say, as the cellist sets her instrument aside and settles between my legs, and she'll brush her thumbs over my hips and say, “They aren’t listening. Even if they do hear us, they’ll think it’s part of a song.” And the band will play as long as we’re together.
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