Yes, Huntington. Dark glasses. Pinot Noir. Proficient in Latin, French, and German. Huntington is Protestant. Huntington dated men and women in college, but he’s married to a woman now and they have two children. He’s still bisexual, so please leave your heteronormative notions at the door with your shoes, thank you. Huntington jogs. Huntington enjoys politics but only ironically. He’s a Democrat, or maybe an Independent. Again, ironically. He keeps a Bible on his bedside table. He never reads it. Huntington appreciates antiques. Huntington writes letters. Huntington doesn’t forget your anniversary. Huntington, after his youngest daughter was stung by a hornet at an orchard, felt useless for the first time in his life. He cradled her squirming body in his arms, paralyzed by the volume of her screaming. By the fact that out of her shrieking came a many-tentacled something under a blue sky cut by the black of apple trees. A squirming girl and a squirming creature the size of a small octopus emerging from the pink depression of her mouth. Huntington thought he must be going mad. Huntington ignored the alien/monster/creature leaving his daughter’s pain behind in its escape. Did you put mud on a sting? Is that how you stopped the pain? Huntington hated nature documentaries and survival videos. He clawed at the dirt, and then he set a clod of warm earth onto his tongue. Yes, Huntington. He used his saliva to turn the dirt to weak mud, spitting the mixture onto his daughter’s pale leg. The creature’s tentacles flicked over Huntington’s stubbled cheeks in a caress that felt loving and patronizing in the same way a bout of food poisoning two years prior made him feel empty and full. Huntington didn’t explain anything when the orchard’s paramedic arrived to help. She looked at Huntington, and Huntington looked at her, brown over his lips and chin and the creature in his daughter’s hair like a bow. Do you see it, too? Huntington wanted to ask. But he didn’t ask her anything. Huntington’s father told him real men never asked for help. The creature made a temporary home of his daughter’s hairline, and Huntington did nothing to prevent this. His daughter’s whimpering lessened eventually into large, glimmersome tears. Huntington thanked the paramedic. Huntington carried his daughter to the car, and the creature latched onto his fingers as they walked. He almost dropped his daughter in his panicked attempts to shake off the suckers. The creature, on the ride home, all the windows open, crawled back into his daughter’s mouth when she yawned. Huntington nearly crashed into a tree. Huntington cursed. His daughter laughed when he cursed and told him she’d tell Mommy. He turned around to assess her for damage. Yes, Huntington needed to convince himself his daughter wasn’t damaged. Or that she wasn’t the one doing the damage. Did she get stung? Or was the creature to blame? Did she hurt herself to let it out? Huntington stared into her eyes, and there was a smile on her lips. He cringed at the wisp of smoke he swore he saw gliding through her left eye. Huntington buckled himself in. Huntington reversed. Huntington pulled onto the road. Huntington and his daughter went home to his wife’s exclamation of Poor Baby! Let Me See What That Mean Bee Did To You. Huntington wept into his pillow. Now, see his navy peacoat, his gold buttons, the Massachusetts snow falling light on broad shoulders. Huntington pretends to enjoy luncheons at the country club on Thursday afternoons, ignoring the heaviness that inhabits him. Huntington is on medication to help him sleep. Huntington plays tea party with his eldest daughter. Huntington is on medication to kill his dreams. Huntington is distanced from his youngest daughter for reasons she doesn’t—and never will—understand. Huntington hates apples. Huntington hates hornets and aquariums. Huntington can’t eat spaghetti. Huntington tells his wife he doesn’t want a third child. Huntington knows he already has a third child somewhere in the bodily dark. Huntington, sometimes, goes out into the backyard when he’s alone to make mud with his mouth. Yes, Huntington spits on the matted and overlapping grass to soothe a wound. It never works.
Jared Povanda is an internationally published writer and freelance editor from upstate New York. He has been nominated for Best of the Net and Best Microfiction, and in addition to Ellipsis Zine, his writing can be found in fine venues such as Pidgeonholes, CHEAP POP, Wrongdoing Magazine, Versification, and Hobart, among others. Find him @JaredPovanda and jaredpovandawriting.wordpress.com