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They began to speak to me at the start of this year. First, it was just my friend, Leah. She was my friend in kindergarten, but she’d diedâ€”or so I’d been informed.
She came to see me January fifteenth. I was so angry that my secretary hadn’t paged me, but I was surprised to see her. Leah is (except for being a woman) just as I remembered. I took off early that day. We went to my place and talked for a long time.
Later, in May, I had another surprise visitorâ€”my mother. When in graduated, I spent a year with her, as her mental and physical health declined, until she finally had to be submitted to a mental hospital. But there she was, in the café. I was having lunch with myself and she came to talk to me, said she was doing great, could she call me later? Yeah, that’d be fine.
Since then, we’ve spent a lot of time on the phone together. Lately, my boyfriend has been really jealous, but I promise him dinner once or twice every week. At our most recent date, he brought up, “hey, lily, I’m starting to feel like...there’s something up with you.”
“Like, you think…I’m sick?”
“Not really, justâ€”your secretary says you’ve been taking a lot of time off.”
“Oh!” I let out a relieved smile. “That! My friend Leah. She’s staying with me and I’m trying to get her a job.” A little lie that wouldn’t hurtâ€”I mean, Leah didn’t want a job and I could support her and probably two kids.
“I trust you, you know.”
“I trust you, too. And I love you.”
Later, we went to the movie, but as soon as we got there, my mom called. “Lily, you have to get home. You have work to do.”
“But, mom, Leah can take care of herself. Rob and I just got to the movie.”
Robby gave me an odd, side-long glance. The movie hadn’t started quite yet.
“Good,” she snapped. “Then it won’t hurt for you to leave now.”
“I’ll be home in a couple of hours.” I clicked off my phone. “Sorry.”
“Lily, did you hear your phone?”
“What? No, I had it on vibrate.”
“Who’s this Leah? Is that code for something? I thought you said your mom was dead?”
The lights dimmed. I shushed him gently, “let’s just watch the movie.”
After the movie, I went to the bathroom to…and touch up my make-up. Mom and Leah were there and they were angry. They punished me horribly for it….in the morning, I woke up alone, in my bedroom. Mom and Leah were in the kitchen, talking. I got dressed and went out to have breakfast, but mom said I couldn’t have any. They were still punishing me.
Someone knocked at the door. Mom answered it, returned. “It was no one of importance. You should go now. We wouldn’t want you to be late.”
At work, I had the first uninterrupted day in, like, forever. After, I went home to listen to mom and Leah yell at each other. Fortunately, I don’t own a gun, even though I do live on the south side of Chicago and probably shouldâ€”if I did, I’d have shot them both. Around, Halloween, they talked me into buying a little purse taser, for my protection. I did it and I felt brilliant: if either of them argued, I’d taser them. I haven’t used it yet, and it’s about Thanksgiving, but they say that I will.
Today is now Christmas. I’ve bought presents for my mom, friends and boyfriend, and I’m getting them all five together for dinner at my place.
Robby arrived at noon, to see if I needed any help, but dinner wasn’t ready until four. We kissed and ii brought him into my living room. My mom looked up from her embroidery.
“Mom, meet Robby. Rob, this is my mom.”
Mom reached out to Robert, to shake his hand. He was still looking down at the sofa, puzzled, to shake his head.
“Lilove, um, it’s not April yet.”
“Robby, just shake her hand.”
“Rob, you just said it wasn’t April. Stop fooling around.”
“I’m not messing. I swear, there is no visible being on the sofa.” He was getting angry now.
“Lily, he needs to be punished.”
I nodded. I was very upset with him, also. I took the taser out of my pocket and shot it three times. He fell to the floor, hitting his head on my coffee table on his way down. I loved hi very much, but if he was going to be a rude idiot, he had to be punished.
Then, my friends arrived. I had dinner set out on the table. A few pies, some ice creams, and breads, with a dresses ham for the center-piece. Julie, Margaret, and Kayla arrived in quick succession, by which time I’d cleared away Robert’s setting. Mom and Leah were already seated at the table, chatting, when my friends arrived and seated themselves.
Julie was the first to notice. “Hey, Lilite! Who are the other guests?”
“This is my mom and that is Leah.”
The girls exchanged looks. Then, Kayla spoke up. “So, when are they getting here?”
My mom spoke now, loudly. “Your friends are very blind.”
Margaret spoke, whiny, “you don’t have to insult us just because we aren’t having the same hallucinations as you.”
“I’m not hallucinating,” I snarled, fingering the taser in my pocket.
Leah looked at me, standing. “Punish them.”
“They’re my friends!”
Leah made it a mantra, “punish them, punish them.” Over and over. My mom stood, approaching me, chanting with Leah; then there were others. They surrounded me, taking up Leah’s, “punish them, punish them, punish them….” They crowded me into a corner chanting, chanting.
When I pulled out the taser, they attacked me.
Arlington Heights, Illinois
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