"Spores" by Joel Kopplin

Categories: ISSUE 03: Edgar

Spores
Mary Ellen, but Mary Ellen maybe the mold will rot your lungs because that’s what your mother said about Patti who moved with John to Savvanah and died because there was mold and the spores made a home in her lungs and it was hard to breathe. The mold made her lungs its ecosystem and like all things that live on things, the mold made a mess like the mess you now clean, poor thing, on your hands and knees, on the little blue mat you move when you mean to scrub a new section of tile and grout. Your dad’s been dead too long for these things to still be here: an electric razor? a toothbrush, bristles all flaring and fuzzed and frayed? that bar of soap? Still smells like piss where he pissed on the floor and the wall-paper. That prostate sure was a pisser—imagine that, late in life losing the power to keep your penis from spilling in your pants, hiding wet crotch with hat, with hands. So D, he peed all over the place did he not? Now he’s dead but your mom’s still upstairs or maybe she’s dead too, dead in that bed with that mask and that hose, the sound of that machine in the middle of the day. And sometimes you hear her back there wailing though you know there are no tears which makes you wonder whether or not she’s a ghost, whether this house is still standing, whether this floor actually aches at your knees no matter how soft the mat. But Mary Ellen that bleach does not work, and I know you try and you try but that smell will always stay, still be there in the walls and the cracks around the cabinet to the sink, and she’ll still shout and wail and you’ll turn on the shower to drown her out but she’ll still holler, and this house is filled with ghosts and stacks of mail and afternoon light that leaks from room to room even though she begs you to close the curtains and coughs on the floating flakes of skin, the ash of family fire. God I know it’s never clean no matter what you do but mind that mold you see in the wastebasket and watch those stairs for specters floating from room to room like the dust dancing on blades of light because Mary Ellen, Mary Ellen she screams to spread her sorrow like she wets the bed so that you will clean it because you can see it in her eyes. She wails when she’s not asleep in that mask but don’t forget she still walks from time to time or at least it looks that way when you aren’t looking very close. Like maybe you stoop to scrub a stain on the carpet and she passes as a shadow on the wallpaper that peels to expose glue. She passes so lightly on the stairs so be careful while you wash, Mary Ellen. Wash what you can but keep your eyes open because she threatens to tell you all about him. While you clean the sheets? She wets the bed and wails to make you sorry you’re still here but you know she knows you will never leave. She wants so bad to tell you how you were seed shot to stick and grow, and how, like all things that live, you ruined the world that was your home. Ssssshhh! Wait. The screaming’s stopped. The screaming’s stopped, but when you open the door do know that if she’s not sleeping she’ll be sitting upright. And that’s because she’s going to speak.

--Story by Joel Kopplin
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--Background & Foreground photos by Doriana Maria