PREFACE: This is a short story I conceptualized and started working on a few months ago. I’ve stepped away from it and put it on hold for the time being. I’m still planning to revisit the idea at a later time, but thought that the best thing to do at this point would be to release what essentially is the first chapter. I find this both a precautionary just in case my interest does fall through that I should at least have put out something out there for the work already put into it and as a sort trial balloon that in case anyone does read this I can see how it’s being responded to. To me this is a ROUGH DRAFT and something that might benefit from other people reacting to it. I consider this like a tv pilot, I’m open on constructive criticism or just getting a sense of general reaction of what people are vibin’ from it. That said feel free to let me know what you think in the comments, and I hope you enjoy.
I despise the groggy minutia of a Saturday morning. I need that regimen, weekdays keep the synapses firing. Without it, it’s as if the world stands still and within this skipped beat I chose not to explore the infinite world but rather catch my breath. I begrudgingly aim my sights at the clock that resides precariously on the edge of the nightstand. 9:43. My body doesn’t comply with the notion, but I find it’s time I begin doing something more productive with my time.
Catherine will be coming over in the afternoon. I pour myself a cup of coffee and let the warmth of it consume my mouth. I decided to sift through the mail, nothing but bills and adverts. Then a dead cold knocking at the door. I flinch in response to the abrupt noise, has Catherine come by earlier than expected? It’s possible, wouldn’t put it past her to rush this engagement but also note that she’s never one for surprises either.
I exhale, I lackadaisically march up to the door with my eyes never leaving the wooden finished floor. Inhaling, I press my face into the door and survey the other side through the peephole. She’s not there. Opening the door, I confirm that indeed there’s no unexpected visitor but a package. I pick up the box which is lighter than I expected and set it down a top of the coffee table. I squander a good fifteen minutes excavating my drawers for my misplaced box-cutter. Damn, for the life of me I can’t recall what the hell I did with that stupid thing. Eventually I decide I’ve spent too much time on this trivial hunt, and grab a pair of scissors instead. I jammed my scissors deep into the folding of the box and eventually removing the tape which sealed whatever content its stored. I peel back both the flaps of the box and finally gaze upon the box’s innards. It takes me a moment to completely assess what exactly I’m looking at.
GOD FUCKING DAMN IT! Robert can be a real prick.
Nestled in the garden of Styrofoam peanuts laid a mannequin hand in the likeness of a primate. An obvious allusion to the work of W.W. Jacobs, The Monkey’s Paw, a precautionary tale of being careful what you wish for. I guess you could say I got what I wished for. My imagination began to postulate the hypothetical. Even with mystical assistance could I find right the combination of words to save my marriage?
I continue to turn over the strange possession, examining the microscopic detail tailored into this strange oddity. The fingers looked strained, almost as if the object was looking to palm a basketball but lacked the relative size to achieve such feat. Finding the relative joints stiffened to no dexterity, I grew quickly bored fiddling with the thing and returned my curious mind to the box. Checking every corner of the box revealed an address I don’t recall as Robert’s. While Robert might find it in his sick sense of humor to torment me with an agonizing guessing game of whether he be the true sender, I work on a different theory.
Catherine was a non-committal art connoisseur, a hobby that she might have returned to in solace. I guess she must have forgot to change her shipping address. As much as I’d love to see my house become the State Hermitage, I’ll be sure to bring this up to her when she arrives. I take the paw and properly set it upon the mantle above the fireplace. I almost remorsefully smirk at the oddity; we always had such drastic tastes in the arts, didn’t we?
As the moment was nearing, my anxious stomach started to knot. Strange how someone you used to spend all your time with could make you feel this uncomfortable. A faint two knocks comes from the door. She’s here. I get up, answer as the door swings open
“Oh, it’s you”.
“Don’t pretend that you weren’t expecting me” said Catherine.
“Still as charming as ever”
I stir my cup of tea with a rhythmic clanking of the spoon against the rim of the cup 1…2…3 in almost precise succession. A nervous tick? Possibly a subconscious distraction attempting to stray focus from the palpable density of the air that filled the room. No one said this would be easy. I grumble a bit to the effect of clearing my throat and grabbing Catherine’s attention.
“So, how’s the new place been treating you?”
“It’s good, everything… is. Great.”
“That’s good, glad to hear. When do I get to see it?
“Well that depends, on when I go on vacation and how good you are at picking locks?”
I smirk, then longingly look for another talking point.
“That’s good I’ll take your word for it. Are you going to miss this place at all? The constellations of chipped paint on the wall, the door with the lose hinge, maybe the electrical socket in the bedroom that’s display only?”
“Can’t say I will. Maybe I can’t deny those “lived in” qualities where endearing…, but, you can only be complacent with not having something better for so long? A change of scenery can really do some good.”
“Yeah. So, you still collect pretentious art pieces or is that something you only do with my credit card number”
“How come anything you don’t understand is pretentious? No. Can’t say I was investing my time into frivolous hobbies during a divorce?
“Yes really, is that hard to believe or something?
“No, it just. It would be easier if I just showed you.”
I adjust myself with slight fidgets of my posture, gazing into her reaction. One of utter confusion. One deep amid speculation.
“Well it’s certainly interesting” she says finally speaking up.
“So, you would have no idea what this is?”
“No clue. It’s like I said. I haven’t worried about collecting art since the divorce.”
“all right, thanks. I’m sure it’s Robert being an ass. If it’s so interesting would you want it.”
She places her hand near it on the mantle and drifts towards it in attempts to better examine it.
“hmm…” She begins “I not quite sure I get it”
“I think it’s suppose to be a monkey’s paw, why don’t you try it out. Make a wish, it just might come true”
“fine…all right… well, I guess I wish for a better husband”
“You might want to wish for something a little more realistic”
She rolled her eyes, a sight I’ve grown rather accustomed to. It wasn’t too long until she realized she was running late and I hastily gathered the last of her boxes and helped pack them into the back of her car. Returning inside had hit me with a feeling of emptiness. An emptiness that was greater than the sum of a couple of boxes. I just stood there, forever. Except it wasn’t forever, you can feel forever but never really obtain it. That’s when I first noticed it. It…changed.
The thumb’s bent inward, I could have sworn that it wasn’t. Catherine must have prodded at it, I tried to envision the memory, but it only comes to me as vividly as something you pretend to have a sincere recollection of. How did she do this? I still can’t find what triggers the mechanism for articulation of the fingers. While it bothered me initially, it quickly became that thing not worth dwelling on and eventually It became easily ignored.