The Memory Collector
In the City of Proust, where the air tastes of rain and remembrance, I stand on the corner of Mnemosyne Avenue and Madeleine Street, my trench coat collar turned up against the drizzle. The cobblestones beneath my feet are slick as oiled memories slipping through my fingers.
The Sleep Clinic
Dr. Sebastian Keller stepped out of the taxi and into the cold autumn air. The wind, laden with the scent of decaying leaves and rain, whipped through his coat, sending a shiver down his spine. He stood before the imposing Victorian manor which had been temporarily transformed into a sleep clinic. Its dark windows seemed to gaze down upon him like the eyes of a giant spider, with the bricks its tangled web.
A Few Bad Hands
The incessant clinking of glasses and the sharp smell of whiskey permeated the dimly lit bar, as the late-night patrons laughed and shared stories. A melancholic blues tune wafted through the air, punctuating the atmosphere with its sorrowful notes. Amidst this cacophony, Layla carefully navigated the crowded room, balancing a tray of drinks above her throbbing jaw.
The Thirst of the Gods
The sun scorched the small town of Drysdale like a vindictive lover. The air was thick with the heavy smell of dust and despair. For months, not a drop of rain had graced the cracked earth and the town’s residents moved through their days like languid ghosts, their skin parched, their eyes sunken, and their thirst unquenchable.
Maya’s fingers trembled over the keyboard, her eyes darting from one data set to another. Her office, a cluttered space filled with stacks of research papers and books, smelled of coffee and determination. Outside, the city’s cacophony of honking horns and chattering voices echoed through the open window, a reminder of the bustling life that lay just beyond her walls.
The Great Designer
The game of life was almost over. After 300,000 years of famine, flood, and war, it was our minds that would atrophy the species to the end of existence. The brain is its own kind of carnivorous predator. It is bloodthirsty for the flesh of realized ambition.
The Lives of Many Goldfish
I tried to remember all of their names. The first was Harold, and then Jerome, Gilligan and Ethel, and then Gregory—who lived the longest of all—Diablo and Pinky, Barnaby and Shelby, and Nico. And now, Gretchen was among them. I watched her for a moment, floating belly-up in the glass bowl. She led a good life for a goldfish, I suppose, living eleven months. I picked up the green net and scooped her up ceremonially, and then deposited her into the toilet. It wasn't a burial at sea or anything, but I saluted her anyway as she set off into a swirling oblivion.
The waitress balanced each white plate, scrapped with food, one on top of the other with a high level of expertise. She held a triplet of the Tower of Pisa on each arm, and walked with feet so light they made no sound. She walked the same figure eight again and again; filling glasses, taking orders, collecting disappointing gratuities. She was twenty-two, for now, but would be eighty-six in a day or so. Eighty-six and rubbing her eyes, wondering where all her time had gone. She miscalculated something. There was a glitch. A glass half full—or half empty, I suppose, depending on whom you ask—of iced cranberry juice toppled off and landed with a flat thud on the cold linoleum floor. It was only then, crouching down on one knee, that she saw Leonard Cane.
The Elephant Parade
Jackie laughed, red-faced and shivering, as she gathered up snow in her makeshift mittens, composed of mismatched socks. The afternoon's accumulation was unimpressive, but she was still jovial in that moment of unmatched excitement that came only with the first snow every year. The trees were only skeletal silhouettes, like brittle bony arms against the dark December sky. Watching from the porch, I rubbed my hands together and winced with every icy breath.
From the southern shore of the Lago de Xochimilco, my eyes followed the other brightly-painted trajineras as they gently glided away from the docks across the black water. The late October air was cold and still, but the soft distant sounds of music and families celebrating warmed the occasion. I stood at the back of the line of tourists, finishing off a cigarette before we too disembarked from the shore.