One Of A Kind

WP Daily Prompt: Describe your life in an alternate universe.

A dust storm looms behind a car in the Texas Panhandle, March 1936.
Arthur Rothstein/Farm Security Administration via Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons

There isn’t a veil that separates one reality from another that you can move aside on Halloween.  You can’t hop from state of existence to the next with the help of a computer and you can’t travel from one world to another by slathering yourself in herbs and oils and singing to a Goddess when  Mercury starts to spin backwards.


There’s a door at the  abandoned Greenwood Mercantile on Highway 164 two  miles from where I live, and if you walk through it at 11:05- AM or PM every single day of the week you will end up somewhere else.

Each world you end up in will be your world and sometimes the changes in you are little ones- you might have green eyes when your eyes used to be brown. You might be left handed instead of right handed. You might be able to sing and in your last world you couldn’t even hum a tune.

Some people never realize what’s happened, sometimes they think they’ve gone a little mad, or had a stroke and some people I think, know they’ve gone somewhere else and they just don’t care that their old life is gone.

Sometimes you will run into yourself and here is the funny thing- you won’t recognize your own face. You’ll just hear that voice and you will know-

that’s me.

Don’t get to comfortable with that idea of ‘me’.


After my last trip through the door at Greenwood, I ran into a woman standing inside the shop. She was standing next to dusty marble marble counter top where people used to sit on stools and drink milk shakes.

She stepped right in front of me.

” Who are you? ” her voice was shaking. ” What are you.? Why are you here? ”

I stepped around her. I pushed up the screen door  and walked  outside towards my car.

She followed me.

”  Why are you always here? ”

That got my attention.

I walked back to her.  The sky overhead was dark and the clouds gathering above us looked like bruises. I put my face close to  hers. I looked into her with our different colored but nonetheless identical eyes.

” I am a sad pale copy of you. I am a shade. I’m just a dream of what might have been ” I said trying to comfort her. I rested my hand lightly on her forearm.  ” I’m just passing through. I will only be here for a little while longer, just like you.”

She stepped back and as she did  I reached into my jacket. I pulled out my knife. I pulled her hair back and then I tore her throat open.

She fell at my feet and died like all of the other versions of me have done- the brighter versions. The versions that had families, that had friends, lovers, homes. They went to college and got their hair done. They had children and grandchildren and cats and dogs.

But none of them. Not a single one- is a killer like me.

In my own humble way, in an one Universe after another, I am one of a kind-

and so  is my victim.



Revenge of The Doormat


In the end her daughters used to think, but would never say out loud ( of course ) that they thought their other was a witch.

They didn’t think she was a witch because she had warts on her nose, or wore black clothing or listened to heavy metal music.  They thought she was a witch because she was constantly cursing them out.

When Toby and Bette asked to go to the dentist because  their teeth hurt or they needed new shoes or lunch money for school- she would say ” You kids treat me like  doormat. All  you good for nothing kids ever do is take and take and take and you never give anything good to anyone in return. I hope you rotten kids know what it  feels like to be treated like this one day.”

Because Toby and Bette believed that they walked all over their Mother and had treated her like a doormat  they thought it was reasonable to believe that their Mother had cast a curse upon them.

And she cursed them at least once a day and at least three times a day on Mother’s day and twice a day at Christmas.

The girls were convinced their Mother curse would take hold and they were destined to be good for nothing and never gave anthing to anyone- they still tried to love her- or maybe we were scared what would happen if we didn’t love her. The world is a terrifying place when you’re not even 10 years old.

So burned into their memories was the vision of her mother weaving her cure upon them.

She would be waveing  her hand- not the one with the cigarette but her free hand while she  chanted ” You kids treat me like a doormat -all you ever do is take and take and take and they give nothing  good to anyone in return. I hope you rotten kids know what that feels like one day.”

They would watch ger cigarette smoke would curl around her head like a snake and then twist and twist in the air until it was gone.

After years of having their Mother’s curse cast upon their heads- they  became convinced that all they did was take and take and they  gave nothing in return and what they did give in return was worthless.

Ask anyone who knows Bette and Toby- their ex-husbands- their friends who threw their confidences around like confetti and streamers at midnight on New Years Eve- and they  would gladly tell you that their Mother was absolutely right  about them.

Gertrude Abercrombie

Outside of the front doors of Bette and Toby’s homes are doormats- Bette’s is woven with  flowers and Toby’s mat has been faded by the Sun and when they return home at night from their jobs where none of their co-workers couldn’t tell you  single detail about them, they carefully step over their doormats and close the doors to their empty homes  quietly behind them.

Family Traditions


Photo A.M. Moscoso

My Great Grandfather Bertie used to be a carpenter- and in the small town he lived in it goes without saying ( but I will anyway ) that he built and repaired and did all of the woodwork in Frog Spitts, Washington.

One of his jobs was to put together the occasional coffin ( he used to say that back in his young day he built more for women and young children then anyone else, which he found sad. So he would take extra care with that work and sometimes he did carvings on the lids and around the sides.

Long after Great Grandfather Bertie died and his Granddaughter who had inherited his house and property and lived there until she was a very old lady and Frog Spitts was absorbed by Seattle and all that was left to say Frog Spitts  had ever existed was that the railroad named the  junction after it.

There’s a white metal sign there at the jucntion with Frog Spitts printed in black block lettering- a basic and no frills grave marker for a dead town.

Anyway, when our family went in to get the house ready to sell one of my relatives had hired a special crew to come in and sort and pack Grandfather Bertie’s workshop.

Everything in there- the half finished projects, the tools, the hardware and plans for his projects were stored and sorted as neatly as a hospital operating room, so it was quick work to get everything crated and ready to move to one of our other relatives who was a woodworker too.

When they were about to bring out the last of Grandfather Bertie’s projects I heard my Mother say from where I was standing on the back porch, ‘crate those up before you bring them out.’- and make sure you go over the shipping directions with Penelope, she’s got the instructions from the airlines-”

Curious about what projects were being shipped out to anyone over 70 years after they were constructed , I went out to the workshop behind the house.

Sitting in the center of the workshop were two coffins- nowdays they are called ‘traditional models’ because nobody calls them inexpensive pine boxes. That’s just not dignified.

My Aunt Penelope was talking to my cousins who were about to start putting the coffins into the crates and she gave me a little wave hello so I walked up and looked at the shipping instructions.

” It’s going to cost a pretty penny to fly these to-”  I read the receivers address and this time I made sure I read the County’s  name a few times  ” that’s weird. ” I said.

My Aunt looked at me and I zipped my mouth shut. She hated it when people were ‘obvious’.

Aunt Penelope went on” these need to be on time- the connecting flights are sketchy and the receiver said the delivery agency at their end is on a tight timeline so let’s do our part to make this work.”

She left the three of us standing there and I said again, ‘ like I said, that’s weird, it’s not like they don’t have coffins there.”

My cousin Percy made sure our Aunt was out of earshot and he said, ” that’s not the weird part. Look in here-” Percy and my other cousin  Franklin lifted the lid and pointed to the inside.

Percy pointed right by the locks that were inside of the casket and straight by  the key that  was resting on a bed of soft dark earth sprinkled lightly  on top the soft cream colored liner.

” You’re right Percy. That is weird. There isn’t as much dirt in there as  thought there would be. ”

Percy and Franklin looked at each other over the coffin and shrugged.

They put the lid back on on got the two coffins ready to go to their final destination in a city called Sighișoara, where two former residents of Frog Spitts, Washington  went to retire years before we were born and in all likelihood before Great Grandfather Bertie was born and they have been eagerly waiting -hungrily -for their sweet memories of home to arrive.

Lois and Olli


John Singer Sargent “A Dinner Table at Night”

Lois and Olli always dined in the dead of night.

Dressed in their finest linen and lace, they preferred to sip their wine by lamplight, they enjoyed taking their meal with knife and fork by candlelight and they savored their dessert in bone chilling darkness.

Occasionally, with knife in hand, Olli would look up from his plate and offer a little smile to Lois and in return Lois, with one hand curled around the stem of her glass would turn her head and purse her painted ruby lips at him.

Sometimes they would ask for salt, or maybe more wine and a waiter- or waiters would come from the shadows and oblige Lois or Olli .

After they served the couple, the staff would fly back into the corners of the dining room and press their backs against the walls and with one eye they watched the only doorway out and with both ears they listened for the clock to strike the half hour before they closed.

” Do you know what I was just thinking Olli? ” Lois would sometimes ask.

Olli raised his hand, lifted a finger and from the balcony above someone began to play the violin. ” What were you thinking Lois? ”

” Go on Olli, you know me better then anybody. You know what I’m thinking.”

Olli looked into Lois’ eyes and he leaned forward and placed his hand over hers. ” Do you ever not imagine me in a coffin sans my head, sweet Lois? ”

Lois’ lifted her glass to her lips. ” Never il mio animale domestico”

Olli took his hand away from Lois and he held it up and flexed each finger. ” Still there I see. ‘

He smiled tenderly at Lois.

” For now. ” Lois said. ” For now. “.