Flo McQuibban shares with us a satirical short story, whose peculiar ending will make you laugh for days.


 

The pottery attic was damp and the music was loud. The bulbs gave off a yellow hue that filled the space with barely enough light to see one’s own hands. There was a faint smell of musk, like someone had left a humid pile of grass inside a plastic bag for an hour. A hint of fresh clay and women’s perfume – it was an intense smell, but not necessarily unpleasant.

Despite the lighting, Grayson had noticed a silhouette from across the room. It was dancing in the bulbs’ fire, telling him to come closer. As he leaned to the left and moved a broken lampshade out of his way, he saw the shadow’s owner. He laughed and had said to one of his friends, “And what’s her name?” His friend seemed amused. “That’s Potts. She’s been hanging in this joint for ages. Mind you, you wouldn’t think it – she’s a bit prissy looking, yeah. Prissy Potts! You interested, Hughes?” Chester snorted.

Several hours of loud music passed by, with various rounds of Truth or Dare and Would You Rather. Poised and elegant, she took part in none of the proposed sinful activities. Grayson found there to be something utterly pure about her. She had his full attention, devotedly. In the distance, he heard Chester: “Want another?” Time felt ambiguous, slow and fast all at once. Everyone was dancing and chortling. What was happening? What was really happening? “Nah, nah. I’m alright.” He replied, never breaking eye contact with the mysterious girl. Maybe it was love – maybe just this once it was love. Last name Potts, first name Pretty, he thought. Embarrassed about his musings, he made a full turn to ensure he hadn’t said anything out loud. He was safe.

By now he had unintentionally picked up the habit of watching her from across the room. She had something about her that made her different. The bright colours, the chirpy attitude – but she also had character. Upon closer inspection there were the cracks, the years of hardship, and the pain. Every crevice was unique and difficult to notice at first sight. She hid it well. He felt as if he had held her before: consoled her many years ago, tried to fix her, glue all her pieces together, understand her complex nature, and whisper to her things she had never before heard.

It was as if she had once been his, but he had forgotten. He sensed this connection, this intimacy. Two soulmates separated. As she moved from one guy’s hand to the other, he hoped they would treat her with care. Yearning to explain to the them: you’ll never understand her like I do. You’ll never feel what I’ve felt. We have something that you don’t have – don’t you see? Don’t you see it?

As the night grew older, he wondered if she’d ever look his way, if she’d ever be able to feel anything for him. And if she did, would she be able to express it? He began to speculate. What if she couldn’t feel? The way she acts, so lifeless and cold, and so empty at that. And when she was not empty, wholeness seemed only a burden that she longed to be rid of. It was as if she were putting on a front only to please others. He began to question: Why should he not be able to love her regardless of what anyone else thinks or says? Why must these rules dictate how he lives? This was the thought that had him back on his feet.

Racing past half broken pieces of pottery, in one scoop he picked her up, kissing her all over, feeling her smoothness. “I love you and I don’t give a damn what anybody thinks,” he declared. Mayhem broke loose in the attic as explosive laughter permeated the room. He wanted to retaliate, to scream at his cackling delinquent friends: “You’re all wrong, you’ll see. It might not be reciprocated, but I can win her over, I tell you, I can do it.” He looked at her, waiting for her approval, waiting for a sign, a noise, a change, anything.

But they were right, and he was high. He was high, and she was just a teapot.

 

Flo McQuibban