Perhaps I shouldn’t have chosen something quite so personal for a writing prompt. I stare at the photograph and several ideas come to mind, no single one emerging to supremacy. When I took the photograph, I thought of the melting snow. I saw the abandoned patio set, framed for a summer social event set at the wrong time. This was followed by the dichotomy of the shed and the rowboat on the right against the beaver-like woodpile on the left. Finally, I thought of my rear neighbor, who has similar summertime hopes with the grill waiting expectantly for use.
But the real eye-catcher is the brown spot upon which sits the frame of one of my patio chairs. The story that captures my imagination here was of a man and his girlfriend, sitting outside on the first nearly warm day of spring and enjoying a hot beverage at the patio table. Her boyfriend sits over the spot while his girlfriend sits across, yammering away about her own life. This is where I eavesdrop into their story –
“If Melony thinks she can just say that behind my back, she’s got another thing coming!”
Collon takes a sip of his scalding tea. It burns his lips and his tongue. He sets down his mug in pain, feeling the metalic taste of his burning tongue and feeling the salty scrape of his palate. He keeps thinking of a way to go back inside. He says, “You shouldn’t have to take that from her.”
“Damn right I shouldn’t!” Myrtle replies. She wears soft, puffy, white fingerless gloves that look as if she reached into the carcass of a dead white rabbit in each hand for warmth. She craddles her mug, the heat of the mug matching the heat of her temper. “And let me tell you, if I see Melony hangin’ around with Chelsea, you better believe there’ll be hell to pay! Chelsea is my friend. We’ve been besties since second grade.”
Collon just sits there, wanting to go back inside to play more Call of Duty. Explosive carnage, getting dismembered by grenades, hell, anything is better than listening to his girlfriend when she gets in a mood. This is Saturday for Christsakes. Can’t school be left back at school?
Suddenly Myrtle stops talking and stares at Collon. “Oh shit,” Collon thinks, “What was going on?” A white furry palm reaches across the table and holds Collon’s hand. Myrtle’s eyes soften and she says, “I love you, Collon. You’re such a good listener.” She stands up and give him a peck on the forehead.
“Thanks bae,” Collon says.
As Myrtle walks back, Collon feels something under his chair. It is as if the ground is moving. He says, “Uh, bae -”
“But that’s just it, Collon. I know you don’t think this is a big deal to you, but its a big deal to me.”
Collon feels his chair begin to sink into the brown spot he is sitting on. “Uh, bae -” he voices slightly more concern as the ground begins to ripple around him.
“But honestly, how can Melony say that she invented wearing winter hats with yarn balls. I did that all the way back in junior high! She just can’t take credit for something she found in the closet and decided to wear to school one day. I had it first! I just, you know, had other things to wear. BETTER things to wear.”
A hand reached out of the dirt and grabbed Collon’s chair. It was using it as leverage to pull the… the… the rest of itself out. “BABE!!” Collon screamed.
“Collon! I just said you were a good listener. Now wait your turn!”
Suddenly, there was a dirt explosion as the creature exhumed himself from his grave. Dirt caked itself to Myrtle’s white winter outfit as she screamed in horror, not at zombie ascending from the grave, but because her pretty outfit was now permanently stained. The zombie grabbed Collon by the yarn ball of his cap and dragged him into the grave. A muffled yell was buried under 6 feet of dirt and the zombie, a dirty man dressed in a tuxedo with a bowtie and ruffle shirt, stood up and adjusted his tie. Myrtle stared in shock.
“Hello, Love. My name is Travis. I’ve been down there for a ghastly length of time. I say, is that tea?” the zombie asked.
“Meep,” Myrtle said.
“Oh delightful. Nice and warm, oh what. I dare say, I was listening to your horrid situation with Melony and I quite agree. Something needs to be done to that strumpet, forthwith!”
“Bu… But Collon?”
“Oh don’t worry your pretty head over him. He is just fine and dandy down there. For you see, this is a stasis grave, by Jove! Oh yes. The idea was that someone should stay as guardian in case nuclear war should come. Yes, quite. Alas, I see my assignment time is up and I should report in. Home office should have something to say about this, don’t you agree?”
“I don’t understand.”
“I just need to make a phone call, Love. Is there a phone indoors?”
“No,” Myrtle said, still in shock, “but you can use mine. Let me just unlock it for you.”
She pulled out her touchscreen phone, unlocked it, and handed it to the dirty gentleman. With a confused look upon his face, the Travis said, “Now, I’m afraid I don’t understand how does that contraption work?”
“You mean you’ve never seen a phone before? Wow. Let me get some help,” Myrtle said as she stood up.
“No, don’t bother. I’ll muddle through,” he said, taking the phone.
Now that she was standing, Myrtle begin moving towards the gate. Travis began asking her a series of questions, but she didn’t feel like answering them. It was too strange to go on.