Friday, June 17, 2011


John woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. Theresa lay beside him, sleeping. Her breath was deep and rhythmically even, her breasts rising and falling beneath the white sheet. John put his face in his hands and tried to drown out the screaming. It was the third night this week that he had been woken up by anguished tortured cries. He grew cold and quiet as he listened in the darkness. John looked over at the girl next to him. He bounced up and down violently on the bed, knocking a pillow off.

"What?" mumbled Theresa groggily.
"Oh, hey, sweetie, are you up?" John said.
"What do you want, John?"
"Do you hear that horrible noise?"
"Your voice?"
"No the screaming... it sounds like it's coming from down the hall."
"You're an idiot. There's no noise except you keeping me awake."
"You're not incredibly supportive of me," John said.
"Incredibly supportive? Don't be silly, John. I'm not at all supportive of you."

John sighed and scooted to the edge of the bed and climbed out. Wearing pajama pants and a loose fitting t-shirt His bare feet felt cool against the hardwood floor. He looked over his shoulder back at Theresa but her soft breathing had resumed. The high pitched angry screeching resumed, unlike any noise he had heard a human make before. John tip toed out of the bedroom and down the hall.

John and Theresa had moved into this house a few weeks ago and the night screaming had begun almost immediately. It seemed to be getting louder every night and Theresa never admitted to even hearing it.

The hallway was dark and empty, void of pictures and any of their little souvenirs of life. John heard the screaming growing louder as he walked down the hall, past the bathroom. He caught his reflection in the mirror peering at him in a sliver of light. His skin grew hot and beads of sweat began to gather at his neck. He walked past the living room and into the kitchen.

The kitchen felt simultaneously empty and crowded. The table was littered with Theresa's paperwork, scraps and emblems from a world he would never be a part of. Food piled across the counters that had been delivered by his mother. The many long windows looked black in the night. The smell of old rancid coffee perpetrated the white room.

In the middle of the kitchen stood a woman. She was screaming loudly and incessantly. She didn't stop to breathe when John moved toward her. She was completely naked, her pale body lumpy and soft like rolls of pretty vanilla pudding. Her breasts were large and free, hanging like dangling purses over her torso. Her thighs were round and hairless. She had long black hair dangling down her back in a tangled greasy tail.

Her screams came from deep in her abdomen, high and angry. They were the screams of someone lonely and desperate and lost and scared. They didn't sound like the cries of someone who had lost love, but rather of someone who believed they'd never find it, that they were destined to be alone forever. It was the shrill whining of self indulgent loneliness and hopelessness.

As John took a step toward the screaming anonymous woman she lifted her chin and he gasped and stopped his advancement. On the body of the beautiful, naked, screaming woman was his face. Not like, his face as it would be had he been born a woman, but his face exactly, feature for feature. He looked at his own stubble, his own crooked nose, his frowning lips gasping for air as they uttered scream after scream. His eyebrows shut up on both faces and the woman seemed even more terrified as she realized with surprise that she was looking at herself in him.

John walked to her and looked into his own eyes. Huge dark circles formed under them, purple and green with lack of sleep. Cavernous wrinkles embossed the outer edges of his eyelids. His lashes curled up. His eyes were shaking, frightened and red with crinkly bloodshot lines forming. On the woman his eyes blinked and then a puddle of tears cascaded from the stretched rims and down his bony cheeks. In his eyes he saw his past and his future staring back in the wildly confident endorsement that he was the only one who could see and hear this creature violently wailing in misery.

Standing a few feet from each other the woman shuddered and trembled. John took her face (or rather their face) in his hands and began kissing her on the full manly tear soaked lips. She let herself be kissed for a second and then stopped screaming and brought her hands to his face. The kiss was soft and sad at first and then it became angry and hungering. John ran his hands through the tangle of hair and began kissing her long thin neck. He let his hands fall to her naked, sweating legs and she wrapped her thighs around his waist. He picked her up and carried her to the kitchen table. Knocking over piles of Theresa's paperwork and an old half full coffee cup, he sat the woman on the table and dropped his pajama pants to his ankles and hooking her ankles around his neck.

Rain fell against the window and the wind roared in the chimney. Seconds and minutes and other units of time sped past quickly. John's house sat silently and calmly amongst the row of sleeping houses filled with quiet, simple people.

A few minutes later John returned to his bedroom. He paused at the foot of the bed, staring at Theresa. She lay still, with her eyes closed, but he could tell by her breathing that she was awake, listening, and waiting. John dropped the bloody knife to the floor by his side of the bed. It still had a few sheets of her paperwork sticking to it. A couple droplets of dark red ooze dripped onto the floor. He kicked it under the skirt of the bed. John sighed and wiped his warm moist hands on his flannel pajama pants. He climbed into the soft comfort of the bed, nestling into the sheets that were just as messed up as they had been when he had left.

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