nonfiction by Rebecca Fishow


I would like to kidnap my childhood friend, Demitra. This will not be easy to do. I have not seen or heard from Demitra in twelve whole years and, though I think I have seen her on the Psychic Network, I do not know where she is. She could be on top of a mountain, or swimming in a pool, or shaving her armpits over a sink.

I am lying in bed, wondering where to start.  My lover is awake, now, getting ready for the day, but I am afraid to get out of bed. I do not like days very much anymore. Days are like snakes. They tempt me to do complicated things.  I hear water boiling for the French Press, and my lover pressing a bagel into the toaster. I pull the covers over my head.

Demitra is a psychic. This much I know. I close my eyes tightly and try to speak to her with my mind. Demitra, please let me know where you are. I remember your golden hair and your big, sad eyes. I want to kidnap you, if it comes to that.

I think about all the dead people I have ever known. My mother’s father and my father’s mother are sitting on the couch of my childhood house, blinking and looking at each other. “Who the Hell are you?” my grandmother asks.

“I don’t know,” says my grandfather. “Could be I’m dead.”

My grandmother is holding a bag of plastic toys that she has collected from cereal boxes and home shopping channels. She is frowning, but I love gifts! When I go to retrieve a toy from the bag, she slaps my hand. “That’s not for you,” she says. “You were always such a greedy child.”

My grandfather is holding a pencil and a pad of paper. He asks me to come sit next to him and draw. I sit next to him and he gives me a piece of paper, snaps the pencil in half, and sharpens it for me. A tree sprouts in front of us and we draw the tree in silence. After a half hour, I look at his paper, but it is blank.

“I need your help,” I say to the dead grandparents.

“Humph,” my grandmother says, “Nobody ever helped me!” My grandfather only looks at me dumbly.

“It’s okay,” I say to the two dead grandparents. “You can go.” They both disappear.

My lover lies on me on top of the bed, shiny eyes and mouth with smile. “Morning!” he says, and shakes me. Words are streaming out of his mouth. Because he is cheery, I want to be cheery. I try very hard to listen and understand.

He is in bed, now, and I am standing up. I am pacing around the apartment feeling for ghosts.  Our cat follows me around. I pet the cat and think, if I do not do anything else in my life but take care of this little grey cat, if I do not go outside and just stay here and be nice to a cat, I would not have caused any trouble for the rest of my days, and maybe I will feel okay when I die.

“That’s no way to think,” says my lover. I smile. He hands me a cup of coffee. Outside the window, it’s raining and gray. My cat rubs his head on my leg. “I want to find my old best friend, Demitra,” I say, “I am going to kidnap her and make her find the ghost in the house.”

“You’ll have to go outside for that,” my lover says, and I know he is probably right.

It takes me four hours to go outside. I watch a lot of TV and I eat two slices of maple sugar pie. I feel sugar-sick. I try to sleep. My head is on a Lazy Susan. A voice inside my head says, “Gross.”

You are right, voice, I think, you are right.  I roll up my sleeve and scrub dried food off of the dishes. Ketchup flecks and chicken bits circle the drain.  I soak myself down in the shower. I rub the soap on a washcloth and rub the washcloth on my skin. Scrubbing feels good. I am ready to go out.

What will I ask Demitra after I have kidnapped her?  Does she remember the first time we played in second grade?  I helped her find the alphabet letters that Ted wrote for her in the clouds. Ted was Demitra’s first best friend. His appendix burst and he died.  When I found a letter I checked with Demitra to make sure I had seen things right.  “Is that an A?” I would ask, and she would say, “Write it down!”  Then, Demitra unscrambled the letters into words, like “chilly” and “rascal” and “long.” She grinned for a while, and I worried I hadn’t really spotted any letters at all. I had only been making them up because I wanted to play.

The world is so big. It stretches forever in all directions, goes on and on. I walk up a hill and look at the faces of walking people. Some of them smile and some of them frown. I worry I am frowning, and try to smile. I make eye contact, and then look away when eye-contact is returned.

I make eye contact with a little girl through the glass of a coffee shop window. I enter, order an espresso and think about Demitra. Did she believe we were witches, back in fourth grade, when we stood in a circle in the park, held knives to each other’s throats, recited initiation incantations, and became an official coven?

The little girl draws a picture next to me. She shows me her picture of a monster riding a unicorn. “That’s a good picture,” I say, and she says it’s lousy.  “The monster is too lumpy, and the unicorn’s a unicow. Besides, it’s all I can ever think to draw. Would you tell me a story, or what?”

Once upon a time a girl had a best friend named Demitra. Demitra was a psychic, but nobody believed her. Not even the girl, not really. To cope with her loneliness, Demitra cut her skin and pulled out her hair. Demitra smiled when she talked about these things to her best friend, and said while smiling, said “See, it doesn’t hurt.”  Her best friend did not know what to beleive. One day Demitra took a whole bottle of Aspirin. Alas, she did not die.

The girl says, “That’s a very sad story,” and I say it is, but it has a happy ending. One day, Demitra decided, “I am a psychic and that’s the way it is.” She moved to a farmhouse and started a psychic business, and to this day she has exorcized eighty-three trapped souls and helped forty-eight pet owners speak to their pets. She lived happily ever after, and that’s the end.

The little girl crumples up her drawing and tells me she has a secret.  She has a very big secret and she is going to tell me now. The little girl says she is not a little girl at all but a moose. She is finally ready to commit to being a moose.

We walk to a nearby park and stand in the middle of a lot of grass. The little girl asks me to hold her hand because she is nervous about transforming into a moose. Small tears form in her eyes and I wipe them away with a tissue. “Ok?” I say.


I watch the little girl become a moose. It takes some time. At first, she looks like she’s constipated; her insides vibrate underneath her skin. She lets out a couple little yelps. Her body bulges and her head bugs out. Antlers brake through her forehead and she grows to the size of a very large moose. Finally, she is a completely grand, majestic moose. She grunts at me, and says, she will miss some things about her human form. Eating chocolate, for example, and jumping rope. She bares her teeth, grunts, and thumps away towards the section of the park that is layered with trees.

Back home, I wait for my lover to return from work.  I fry a cheese sandwich and microwave tomato soup. I sit on the couch and look around the house. It feels very small and very large, like a cage with no walls. A book falls off the bookshelf, so I pick it up and read.

The book is about a man who had killed another man, but can’t remember he did it. The amnesiac man comes out of the book and asks me to hide him for a while. He tells me he is in love with me, and though I do not love him, we make love on the couch. Mostly, he keeps his eyes closed, but when he opens them, there are tears. Then, we are lying together, naked, and he tells me he will be with me forever. Though I had thought I made him happy, I can see he is still not satisfied. “I’m sorry,” I say, and I close the book before I can cause further harm.  When my lover comes home, we kiss. I look out the window and we hug.

“Did you find Demitra?” he asks. I say I did not get the chance to start looking.

We watch TV in bed, to fall asleep. We complain about TV, but lately we have been watching it a lot.  We watch a TV show about a man who has killed a man and remembers it, and is in trouble with the law.

After the show, my lover says, “I hate TV. It starts good, and then it just gets worse and worse, like the creators don’t have a. But the suspense makes me want to keep watching.”  I pull the covers up to my ears and blink and think, like life.

Sometimes I talk to my lover without speaking. I say, “I love you so much. I love you more than the sun. I want to crawl into your body and fill you up.” I wait for him to smile, or blush, to say something back, using his mouth, or not.

You can try not to blame him for his lack of communication. You can believe he reciprocates, anyways. You can tell yourself loving is better than being loved; that even though he doesn’t hear it, it doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

The cat attacks my leg. His ears shoot back and his eyes are nuts. When I say, “Stop, cat,” he walks a circle around himself, settles down and licks his hind legs.

Maybe tomorrow, I think, on my back. But before I think about what might happen tomorrow, what I might do, or whether or not I will believe, I am not here anymore.  I do not know where I am. I am someplace else entirely.



Rebecca Fishow