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Last Man on Earth
It was a spider web full of morning dews. The glass door with elaborate designs spilled sunlight, scattered with shadows of the door. An annoying fly whirled around the bottom of the door. Watching it, with wings trembling in the air, made my head ache and the feeling of the shard attacking my head returned. I will never forget that feeling. Ah, and the imprint of the purple butterfly that was on the shard, how elegant, how graceful, how monstrous...
The old house was brick, and well, old was the best way to put it. It was more of a cottage, with low walls and lived in suburbia. The only thing flawless about it was nothing. The fact that nothing was flawless was incredible--the old house was just so old, haunting and ugly. I couldn’t remember if I wanted cereal or not. All I know was that loneliness never escaped from that house where a family once lived. If you really want, I’ll tell you briefly what I remember happening. The shard hit me so hard that I can hardly recall everything.
I believe I was fourteen. Hopefully I was fifteen. It was that hideous gleam in his eyes. You know, the one where it’s supposed to look a showoff and seem mysterious, but it never works. My mother watched and secretly in her head, that gleam sparkled too. Her earrings dangled with fake diamonds until suddenly my father smashed the purple vase into the wall.
“Why did you bring her into the house?!” sobbed my mother. “Can’t you see? You didn’t even tell us at first?”
His knuckles were bloody and eccentric. The hands were once eloquent, and my father was born with a beauty that most women would have been jealous of. His dark hair was sweating and the ugly gleam shone brighter than a star. He cursed and muttered something unutterable and forced himself outside.
“She was your aunt, for Pete’s sake. His sister,” my mother complained. She wasn’t believing in me, she was blaming me.
You know, when I was looking outside the window I caught a glimpse of my father’s sneakers jogging up the steps. My mother buried her face into her hands and she couldn’t do anything but cry a river out. Her eyes lost that leafy green color and the diamonds swaying from her earlobe were yellowing.
“You know she came up to us and said how terrible she felt? And then she started bawling and felt so guilty for being with you at this house?” my mother countered. Her eyes were like pink cotton candy, but the whites of her eyes had those pulsing veins.
I didn’t know how to feel at the time. Logically, I would’ve felt guilty. But for some strange reason, I don’t think I felt guilty. I don’t think I even cared about what was going on at the time My mother was struggling with her emotions and my father--well who knows?
“Where is she?! Is she curled up, hiding somewhere?! Tell me!” screamed my mother.
I felt like I was taking a sticky shower in my own skin. I went to go open a window, but the sunlight poured in even more. I imagined myself splashing in the tub when I was a baby, with a squeaky clean rubber ducky by my side.
That’s when my mother stormed out and I shouted “I don’t know!”
Everything was kinda twisty and swirly at that moment so I grabbed the red kitchen counter top. I saw my reflection through the silver refrigerator and my eyes, with great remembrance, was astounded at a little triangle punched above my right eyebrow. It was cute and purple with some design. Blood trickled down and the broken glass was the cause of my dizziness.
I went to my bedroom mirror and tried to pluck the shard out. A throbbing was overwhelming me and it was worse than any headache, believe me. It was sort of like getting shot in the head, or like when a magician throws knives at his assistant, and she never gets hurt. But the magician’s magic failed this time.
After I observed the details of the shard, I took some pencil lead and a needle and carved it on the skin of my left ankle. A little lopsided, but still great. That’s how I made all my tattoos.
A month later, I dreamt that I had a child who was on the ground, snow everywhere, and he was sliding his arms up and down and closing his legs and opening them. He was so graceful. I still had a dangerous love for my aunt, but I was now a father. I wanted to find my parents and ask for forgiveness. I think you would do the same too.
I looked in the thick phone book for last names in the “s” section. As I scrolled down the countless lines and flipped the thin, worthless pages, not once did I see a familiar name. Or possibly I just scrolled too fast. I sighed and faced one decision. My aunt’s house wasn’t very far from here....and she may have a lurking answer.
An arena of pine trees surrounded the demode house and rose bushes softly erupted by the front door. What a scene. I knocked softly and a mellow, soprano voice said, “Who is it?” I shuffled my feet a little and stayed quiet. “Who is it?” she repeated. After some pause, I heard her lift the box to peer through the eye hole and then she opened the door a crack, so that I wouldn’t see most of her.
“Yes?” she sang.
“Uh...I was wondering if you know where, um my Mom and Dad might be...?” I said.
“Nope sorry,” my cousin said quickly.
“Ok well then--”
She closed the door and then a small folded piece of paper slid underneath the door. I opened it and realized that my aunt Eleanor had written it.
I am sorry for what happened between us. Try to forget what happened. Do not speak to me or your parents, and don’t even think about my daughter. It was my mistake and your fault.
I wondered why she had written this. Was she eventually going to send it to me? Was she scared of me? I don’t think the relationship was that bad, do you? I stared at the paper and then stared at the white door. I tried the knob, the door clicked open and I entered myself in. The house was frozen and I heard something. I thought at first it was a mouse, or the pet parakeet or something of that sort when the house became frozen again. Even weirder, the temperature had dropped tremendously, as if a ghost might have been present in the room.
I slowly scanned the room and in the kitchen, a fragile body was perched next to the refrigerator, with knees up, and her arms around them. Eleanor was shaking so bad and her eyes were scary since makeup ran down her face. She didn’t take her eyes off the floor but I know that she noticed me. My heart stopped beating for a second, and then I realized that she isn’t the Eleanor that I used to love, and I wasn’t the person that she truly loved either.
I didn’t walk any closer to her and all I could do was feel the striking pain of how she felt at that moment. Oh gosh, you wouldn’t believe how desperate I felt. The tender coolness of the air didn’t help. It was like I was drowning in a lake forever, and a force was pushing me farther in the water. It was as if Eleanor’s soul had entered my body. I imagined I was helpless and I wanted to keep drowning and wounds on my earthly body opened up. A gush of velvet blood spoiled the water, and I was drowning in my own blood. But I wasn’t dying. I wished that I was dying quickly. An arm grabbed me through the hole in my heart and dragged me to a dead mermaid. I was gulping for air, my lungs weak and solemn. I couldn’t tell between tears and lake water, but I was crying for the mermaid and myself. I was screaming and screaming, until I knew my voice was gone, but a force kept me screaming still.
I felt like I was paralyzed now. I turned the stove on and put the letter in the fire. Eleanor kept sobbing and shaking. She was a dangerous color and a haunted woman. I never turned the stove off.
I snapped back to reality and escaped the deadly house. I didn’t believe how I had felt a certain lust for her before. She was so skinny today, her skin too pale and her once luscious black hair was cut short and choppily. I guess the thought of having an affair with Eleanor was so exciting to a teenager like myself.
I was sitting at the edge of a cliff when that memory jogged back in my head. The trees rustled with excitement when the wind flew by. On one of the trees, I took a sharp stick and drew the bizarre tattoo that’s etched on my left forearm. I wondered if this is what I would do if I was the last man on Earth. Would I just redraw all the natural beauties of nature the way I want it? I’d like that. Right now, I felt as if I was the last man on earth. No parents, siblings...would I be happy? I don’t think I was happy for the past few years of my life, after my parents left when they found out I molested Eleanor. I always felt empty in my heart, as if I was missing something that everyone else understood. Do you know that feeling? It’s a bitter feeling. “The greater essence is not in what you perceive, but by what you characterize,” Eleanor once told me long ago. She was special. I ran my fingers through my hair as I thought about these things, and next to my left ankle, a fluff of white sprouted, and I picked it up and blew out the seeds. It was something that everyone called, “a dandelion.”