In the Back of the Closet
Skeletons. Too obvious.
Gay metaphor. Too current.
Back of the closet. Shoved out of sight. Forgotten. Storage? Stuff. The excess that gets pushed out of the way. Excuses?
Necessary things that are nonetheless unwanted. Coats. Boxes for computer parts. Suitcases. Things that have a purpose from time to time but are otherwise put up and kept out of the way.
Intersection of the profound and the profane.
A pentacle on the floorboards in the back of the closet.
What is it for? Seance? Speaking to dead loved ones. Not something you always want to do (much as with anything to do with family), but useful for when you do.
“It’s like Skype for the dead. You don’t always have time to talk, but when you do, it’s nice that you don’t have to pay for long-distance.”
He swept aside the clutter that had come to cover the pentacle (shoes, dirty shirts, when did that clock get there?) It wasn’t the usual time, but he didn’t think anyone would mind.
It took him a while to find a sharp enough needle.
When he pricked his thumb and set the drop of blood to the circle, the lines began to hum with a blue light. He felt a jolt in his palm like he’d touched a live wire.
A moment later, the smell of old sod and wet grass filled the closet, mingling with the sweat and mold that already pervaded the air.
“That you, dear?” The image of a withered older woman flickered into view above the circle. She had a haze surrounding her like a chainsmoker, with the scent to match following her appearance a moment later.
He coughed quietly and tried to brush the scent away from his mouth with a wave of his hand. “Hi, granny Abbey. How’re you doing today?”
“Oh, that is you. Wonderful. I’m still dead, but I know it’s been ages since I spoke to you. Why haven’t you called?”
He looked at his feet, crossed on the floor in front of him. “I’ve been busy.”
“Uh-huh. So why are you calling now? Doubtless you want something.”
He sighed and stared up at the shelf above him. “It’s not like that.”
Granny Abbey pretended to take a drag on her non-existent cigarette (though for all he knew, it was real to her), and waited for him to elaborate.
“I just need some advice. That’s all.”
“Well, I’d be damned, except I’m already there. You’re the first great-grandchild to ever come to me for advice.”
He tilted his head. “What do the rest of them come to you for?”
Granny Abbey waved her hand noncommittally. “Who can say. All these newfangled problems you have these days. I can’t keep up, yet somehow you pints seem to think I have some voodoo to help with it all.”
“Do you?” He said, sitting up straighter.
“Just because I’m dead doesn’t mean I suddenly have access to all the worlds secrets and mysteries. I gotta do the legwork just the same as any good reporter.”
“Now, now. Just because I’m not a wizard doesn’t mean I can’t help. What’s your problem. Does it involve a girl? Oh, please say it involves a girl.”
He looked away. “Not exactly. But kind of.”
“How can it ‘kind of’ involved a girl? Either she’s involved or she isn’t.” Granny Abbey’s mouth hung open as she finished her sentence, letting plumes of acrid smoke furl out. “Oh. Got it.”
“Yeah,” he said, blushing.
Granny Abbey frowned crossly and waved her hand as though she were brushing aside a cloud of flies (or smoke). “It makes little difference.” She paused. “Obviously there is a difference, but just because I’m a woman, and your grandmother to boot, doesn’t mean I don’t know a thing or two about your situation.”
“I thought you were my great-grandmother.”
Granny Abbey paused, tilted her head back, and let out puffs of smoke as she quietly mouthed names to herself. After a moment, she swore and waved her hand frantically. “It makes little difference. Obviously there is a difference, but I’m old to all of you, so my wisdom-granting ways remain the same.”
She smiled back. “Now,” she said, folding her arms, cigarette forgotten in one hand. “Tell me about your problems.”