Spinning in from the seventeenth hallucination, loosely based on the human condition, and inspired by real personages.
I watched my uncle refill the empty gourds with sesame seeds. From left to right, each gourd smaller than the last until they were all full again. His movements were quick and methodical, the motions of muscle memory and not conscious thought. My brother, on the other hand, moved like a rusty jack-in-the-box. I’ve asked my uncle repeatedly to teach me how to fill the gourds with sesame seeds but he’d consistently turned me down. He insisted that my hands were too insubstantial to grip with the required force. And, my tendency towards visual hallucinations would have made it futile to bother teaching me how to verify the number of seeds were the same in each gourd. I stopped asking after five years.
“How is your guest this morning?” my uncle asked as he placed the gourds into a tray.
“I was going to wait until he made himself ready to return to wherever it is that both of you jumped in from, but it is probably better that you know now.”
My uncle rarely spoke in this way, like he was going to tell me that the last several months were a dream and I never left, and the man with the rifle wasn’t real.
“We cannot let the other one leave with him.”
“You mean, you won’t let the other one leave with us.”
My uncle narrowed his eyes, slowly closed them, put his hands on his hips and slowly shook his head.
“Oohh, someone’s in trouble,” my brother quipped as he picked up the tray and put it on the conveyor belt that would take it to the south garden.
I glared at him just as he disappeared from my sight.
“We can’t let you leave either, my dear girl.”
“Because,” my uncle said as he looked at me with a hint of disdain. “This man who saved your life is already dead.”
My uncle couldn’t be serious; I’m the best at sniffing out dead humans no matter how long they’ve been dead. If the man with the rifle were already dead, I would’ve smelled it ages ago.
“I know, I know. You’re the best when it comes to identifying the multifaceted scents of dead humans but you may have been away too long this time…and if he doesn’t know he’s dead, you could easily mistake the sweet stench of rot with honeysuckle.”
I turned away from my uncle, unable to meet his gaze, unwilling to consider that he could be right.