(1) Half-eaten meal, (2) Glasses of apple juice, (1) Broken nightlight Yuriko Saenz continued waddling down the empty hallway of her home. She cheerily swung her stuffed bear beside her as the corridor undulated in waves. She clung onto the thick hide of the animal and jumped over the mounds of tiles, squeezing her eyes shut with each bounce. She gradually made her way across the dark passage and paused at the kitchen counter before triumphantly throwing her fists in the air. A lone apple dropped from nowhere and rolled down the counter toward Yuriko. As it settled on its side, a horrible face melted through the rotten skin of the fruit, ominously grinning at the child. “You should have eaten me!” Yuriko rolled out of bed and thumped against the carpeted floor of her room. She ran her small hands across the matting. Her real room. She slowly lifted her head to peer at her sister, asleep in the opposite corner. Yuriko’s stomach growled. She flung her arm over her forehead in regret, knowing better than to wake her mother. (2) Antidepressants, (4) Canceled shows, (?) Unspoken words Corwin Saenz enthusiastically nestled himself into one of the center seats of the theater, knowing exactly where the voices of the actors would be best received. He skimmed through the program to navigate the scenes of the play in advance. The low murmur of the other patrons began to wane as the lights finally dimmed. Corwin’s heart beat excitedly as the curtains pulled back to reveal a masterfully designed set and the full cast of players. He squinted harder and realized that one of the performers was, in fact, his own visage. The character signaled to another, older man peering down from a balcony above. Corwin’s doppelganger engaged the man in a dialogue of Shakespearean wit, their familial relationship slowly revealed through the intricacies of their interaction. The older actor leaned against the railing of the balcony amid the echoing laughter of the theater, only to topple over and slam against the fortified stage. A collective scream ripped through the audience as everyone raced toward the back exits in horror. Corwin stood to help the man lying in a crumpled heap onstage but was frozen by an inexplicable paralysis. The crowd quickly dissipated, and the curtains pulled together to hide what remained of the scene. (5) College classes, (1) Expired permit, (4) Months in confinement Renella Saenz extended her arms and allowed the briny ocean breeze to sweep past her as the boat lightly bumped against the currents. The calming blue waves melted by as the sun gleamed overhead. Renella leaned against the cool metal railing just short of falling overboard and gaped down at the waters behind the rudders. She inhaled deeply, tasting the salty air. Her eyes shot open as a pungent smell reached her nostrils. A heap floated by the side of the vehicle, coated in a pallid ooze. She held in a stream of stomach acids as she froze, staring down at the familiar thespian garb of the body— A suspicious jerk rocked Renella out of her thoughts. From below the rudder, an enormous serpent-like object slithered into view, knocking against the ship. Renella struggled to grip the sides on her way to the bow. Suddenly, the boat drifted away from the beast’s path and sped ahead. Renella glanced at the shadow overtaking the helm as the monster faded from view. (2) Unfinished books, (1) Dead husband Amaya Saenz hastily tied a cloth over her mouth as she strolled along the street by her house. The cloth clung against her skin, reassuringly constricting her. She gently prompted her three children forward under the blanketing yellow haze forming above them. The family calmly strolled through the empty city until reaching an alleyway. Little Yuriko wandered toward a poster on the wall and pointed at it excitedly. The poster advertised a show with the word “canceled” stamped across it in faded red ink. The single profile of one of the lead actors shone on the worn paper. Amaya froze momentarily but pulled herself out of her daze to rejoin her children. Amaya turned back toward the innards of the alleyway, only to find that her family had disappeared. A sudden dizziness overcame her, and she gripped her head as the contents of her brain spilled out in front of her. As the pain slowly dulled, she opened her eyes to see a flurry of colors pool between her and the end of the alley. A towering monster materialized from the matter and bellowed at her, resembling a mass of disfigured construction paper. Unable to move, Amaya bent her head in resignation. She glanced down at the dingy wet cobblestones of the alley to find the monster slowly dissolving. The once-threatening creature melted down into a mosaic of nothingness and scurried back into Amaya’s mind. (1) Introspective Spirit, (12) Daily pinches, (1) Anticipated reunion Yuriko somberly glanced at the passing shadows dashing around on the empty flat ground surrounding her. She skipped around and tugged at the strands of what appeared to be her sister’s watch. It never seemed to fit. She held the contraption up to her face and focused on the numbers: “11:32”. She glanced upward, the sky began bleeding a dull gray. Her mind churned with an infant sense of accomplishment and newfound recognition that snowballed into full lucidity. Yuriko spun herself in circles, pondering her first action, the obvious answer quickly arriving. She clung onto one of the passing shadows and dug through her memory. Her real memory. A pair of legs formed above the shadow and straightened into a familiar posture. The rest of his body slowly constructed as she clamored with excitement. As she looked into his prevailing eyes her body froze. He simply smiled and held out his hand. Yuriko gently stepped onto his feet and clung onto his arms as they danced through the night in silence.
By Christian Barragan