I have to come out from under the cover of all the characters I’ve made these past five months. I’m moving to Toronto this week and as I type this on the couch in the living room there’s a wall of boxes where there once was a view onto the street. This computer will go into the last empty box and then you won’t hear from me for a couple days. My family will be sailing across Canada. (Okay this is the part where I just make shit up…) Yeah, there’s a large tank of water that is hauled behind the caboose of the CN and we’ve rented a small boat which will be floating in that tank. It’s a tiny sailing boat but it’s sea-worthy… tank-worthy. We’re told. I got insurance just in case it sinks. I hope it’s okay if there are any problems I can swim and I’ll be sure to wrap my children up in life-jackets at all times. (Okay that’s the end of the line of the lie.)

    Yeah, so you won’t hear from me for a couple days so enjoy some of the previous stories…

 

A Strangeness Sings

 

  He plops himself into the half empty tub with a splash that reaches a foot up the wall. He closes his eyes and lets the touch of the water line take over. It inches up his torso and legs. It tickles with warmth. The rush of the water into the tub drowns out his neighbors’ bathrooms upstairs and downstairs. Everybody in the building is cleaning themselves this Sunday afternoon. A community event.

   The water line tickles his neck like a chinstrap. How high can it climb? He shimmies his body back and forth in a stationary position, enjoying the warmth. The water is now up to his lip but it won’t overflow because of the drain. The rushing sound continues to pour in. 

    Upstairs he hears feet race out of the bathroom and then back into the bathroom. A game? Downstairs, no sound. His body starts to float and he paddles a little to keep his lips above water. He opens his eyes but the water is still a good six inches below the top of the tub. He watches the rush of water falling into the tub but as the water level doesn’t seem to be climbing anymore it looks more like a tower. A frozen and fluctuating tower. He wonders if his tub is broken as his body starts to slide into a vertical position until he’s standing with his lip just above the water. There’s no relaxation in standing in a tub, this is like taking a full body shower. This is like Monday morning. He considers getting out but then he starts to float and is lulled into relaxation again. 

    His arms and legs reach out wider than the tub. It feels good to stretch but his right leg bumps into something below. The bath bubbles conceal the depths. He takes a deep breath and then submerges. He reverses himself top to bottom and then swims down to investigate. There’s a round object on the bottom of the tub and other vague colored images. He pulls the water back with both arms and arrives at the bottom in seconds but there’s nothing. It’s transparent though and he can see his neighbor in her tub, clothed behind bubbles. He looks side to side but there’s no one else in his tub. Of course there’s no one. He blushes but stays. 

   She opens her mouth to sing while a fin flaps out from the bottom of her tub. It’s true. He’s never seen her legs before. Her lower body is always wrapped in blankets to the bottom of her wheelchair. So there’s a giant fin down there. The water and the warmth recede as her voice takes over.  Her eyes remain closed. The bottom of his tub descends like an elevator. How will he explain this to her if she opens her eyes? He feels a pinch at his toe and he releases the oxygen in his mouth. He swims up while he pulls a crab-toy from his toe. His head emerges from the tub and he turns off the water. He hears the singing downstairs while he examines the ragged claws of the crab. 

   Some line from a poem is on the tip of his tongue.

 


 

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   My name is Finn Harvor and I’m a writer and artist, living in South Korea.  The past five months of writing on this blog has been an experiment in layering meta-fiction around a ball of simple and bizarre narratives.

  I hope you’ve enjoyed them.

 


 

Getting the Witch to Cough it up

 

   Joey Kim pushed his yellow bicycle along the stone walkway in front of the small house. The newspaper rack on the handlebars caught the ledge of a window and tore off a splinter of wood. Joey stopped, shook his black bangs from his eyes and looked around. The shack of a house was in ruins already and a heavy curtain was drawn inside. It wouldn’t be noticed, he told himself.  He continued pushing his bike faster but the front door still receded in the distance. It was a small house. Why was it taking so long?

   When he did finally reach the front door he was exhausted and rested his weight onto the U-shaped handlebars of his banana-seated bike. He stretched one arm out to knock on the door but it creaked open and out of reach. 

   “Hello?” His voice seemed to echo within the darkness of the house. “I deliver the paper. I’m here to get money for the paper. The newspaper.”

    Joey was new to the job. At ten, he was still new to the world but it was collecting money for his paper route that had proved to put him at a constant loss for words. He’d spent the evening stuttering and stammering out various requests for money.

    An elderly woman appeared at the door. Her eyebrows were midway up her forehead as if fleeing from her face and her long black hair also rushed back in shock from her shriveled head. Her nose pointed straight at Joey.

   “Money? I don’t have money. I don’t donate money for charities. Get money somewhere else for your legless orphans.”

   “No I’m the newspaper boy… carrier. I’m deliver… I deliver the Vancouver Sun.”

    She looked him up and down with eyes that narrowed into green slits.

   “Here’s your paper,” Joey said and reached into the delivery bag resting in the rack. The old woman at the door stared at him even harder as he held out Friday’s paper.  She mumbled something as she went back inside the darkness of her home. The door remained open.

   With a jerk of his head, Joey shook his black bangs from his eyes. He looked around and noticed how far the stone sidewalk snaked around the house. He wanted to go home to eat. He could imagine his mom in the kitchen putting kim chi in a bowl. 

   “Didn’t I pay you yesterday?”

    “You paid me a month ago.”

    “Oh yes. Oh yes. Time flies when you’re having fun,” she said and laughed a toothless grin. “I mean flies have fun when your time’s expired.”

   Joey nodded blank understanding.

   “I mean when you’re dead the flies come out to play around your corpse.”

    Joey breathed in deep.

   “That’s a joke. A joke. A play on words.”

    “I’m here to pick up your monthly payment,” Joey said.

   “Alright here’s your money,” the old woman shouted and held out a ten-dollar bill. Joey felt a jolt when he took the bill from her. He hated collecting. 

    On the front page of the paper students in Korea were clashing with riot police. Somewhere in the scene was one of Joey’s older cousins. Almost everyday his parents talked about life back in Korea. Most of the time Joey tuned them out. All he knew was that things were tough all over.