Four short stories:
One afternoon, the burden of the world and all its issues became too heavy and snapped poor Stanley’s back. It was a sickening sickness – the kind that is too big to become a burden to anyone, but nevertheless, on those unfortunate off days, when a strange wind settles in that has brought the perfect mixture of uncertainty, someone here or there will come down with the nasty sickness.
His bedroom was unnecessarily large, as was his house, and this afternoon brought him back to his bed. He dimmed the lights to simulate the evening at its darkest, and folded himself under a heavy comforter where he laid in the fetal position for the rest of the day.
Mila finally got her promotion. Her boss was wearing that hideous ornate mustard shirt with the mouths of its sleeves buckled tight at the wrists. He summoned her into his office with his signature quick yet direct eye. She grabbed hold of some papers on her desk, shuffled them anxiously, and managed a stance.
He shut the door behind her. The floor to ceiling windows were engulfing. His movements were gestural yet ironic like a pudgy classical Greek sculpture. He moved around the room, ranting about the dedication and enthusiasm she had for her field and how he wanted her closer to the heart of the company.
She stood struck stiff, with a clip on smile to hide her anxious eyes, while he drew so close their noses could have touched. He brought his hands to the valley of her chest and thrust his tongue into her mouth.
“Okay, great so you’ll start the new position on Monday,” he recounted indirectly, as he began reordering shuffled files on his desk. His pits were wet and heavy and the cloth below them hung like mud.
Late October exposed the ghost tree. It had been concealed all year long as a tree just like the others, but when it lost its leaves, its bark went with it, leaving the trunk a splotched chalky gradient.
Her roommate came home and declared he “was actually going to shit his pants,” walked straight to the bathroom and turned to silence. Minutes later, his current favorite song occupied the hall. The computer must have been unfolded on his lap, his pants at his ankles. She could see him sitting intently, his eyes fixed to the screen where some enlightening text gradually opened them wider and wider.