“Potions” Short Story by Tom Garback

I did not know her name, nor if she went by she. It was them, then, who made me this way because I had stolen something. So much for the memory of ghosts.

The visual proof of my beautiful body had faded fully. Once on a beach south of here, in San Diego, a dog seemed to sniff out where I’d known my left foot to be, but it was only a rat coming through.

Life’s not all as bad as dogs. They’ve taken me off the Wanted billboards, for example.

Without a reason one day, I decided to fix myself. But how could I regurgitate that drink I’d drunken if my body were gone? It almost made me wonder at my sentience, but I learned to forget about that.

No one lived in the vacated property where it happened. The stained-glass windows were pounded in, their litter mixed in with tiny pebbles, and I thought of how anything adds up, and the dual tigress statuettes out front only licked dry grass now. I envied the impressions they made. The broadness of daylight reminded me of how it felt to stand in the sun. Remembrance called me to go inside. Police tape and water warped planks had fallen here, forming my red carpet of sorts.

My creaks and clatters were muffled by distance and the freeway. I thought of how little invisible meant when you had sound, though my voice had been taken with my flesh.

Spaces as I’d left them: the grand piano to the left with three broken keys, a refrigerator peeking from down the hall, its only occupants melted and dried up out of the icebox. Up the stairs a bedroom. I made sure it wasn’t my own, but theirs.

Inside the scrapbook, plastic sheets melted, binding ashy. The memories were hardly useful to me now. I set the book down, wondered at having been able to pick it up, and was humored by my contradictions.

Then the opaque bags in the closet. I picked one up to weary déjà vu. By their last night, I’d almost grown as hooked. Seeing their restful fate, I wish I had.

Laughter came through the window’s slanted ray of light. Kids on the street. “We dared you,” one said.

“Alright, alright.”

I tried to scream, recalled my restrictions, and took to stomping around, tossing the melted curtains, upturning the piss-stained mattress, shattering the lamp’s glass base. Immediately, screams. Then nothing. It was good. I couldn’t bear the thought of them discovering the closet. This was how I came to seeing the noise I made as an end to the cycle that had taken me halfway, taken them all the way. It would not take anyone else anyway, so long as I kept guard here, even if it be for eons of unseen wreckage.

I allowed myself to peer out on the street, wondering at my lack of eyes. There a boy stood over the tigress statuettes. He kicked their dumb tongues, growled, pounced.

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