I awake upon a shell. Cars are driving back and forth at erratic intervals. The sun is back in the sky. We're in a utopian suburbia's unsuburban downtown. I know this place well.
It's a damn church. The liberal kind, where they marry gays and perform exorcisms in the same building. But right now, it's a party hall. We've rented it out, to have our way with it. A church that sells its body for money. Hmmph.
Memory. That's where the crab has taken me.
The crab scuttles along the side of the street. I've always been a crabby person, haven't I? But it looks back at me with beady eyes, and I want to kick it into the oncoming traffic. The thing is like some self-righteous revenant visiting Mr. Scrooge in The Christmas Carol. Bah, humbug!
But this is another kind of birthday. Because, by now, we all know I'm no Messiah. Far from it. Seventeenth, not two-thousand-and-eighth. But maybe I'll get that old if I'm trapped in here forever.
I'm Hunter. My fitting appellation. Not that different than the Hunter of last month. He stands at the door with eyeshadow and a white smile. No, not white. Bleeding gums, and silver stud in the tongue.
That's what she called me: silver tongued stud.
She's at the door now. No more paper silhouette. The real thing. The real Laura. A chill runs down my arms, and I turn around for the crab to take me back. Arms that want to grab.
The crab is gone. Good riddance.
I am alone, in the memory of that one final happy day.
I wish she was paper again, and I had scissors in my hand. Abort, abort, abort!
And just like this sentence, she leans in and tells me she's missed her period? Oh no, the happiness is shattered. Maybe I shouldn't have put the sun back in the sky. I wish it would flush away.
She enters the hall, brushing past the me in the doorway. A chill again, down both our arms. I see myself in the doorway. Gaping in astonishment. Wishing I'd worn my hat that day. Any hat. Latex or tweed, anything to have stopped her from saying that.
They say hell is torture. This moment. That moment. The moment. That should be dead. I should be dead. Over. Kaput.