Once again, Fantasyfic writer Eric Esteb has written a chilling flash fiction story that still gives me the shivers. He has kindly offered to let me post it here for him as a guest writer. Thanks, Eric.
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by Eric Esteb
Despair is a man who lives on my street.
I believe in being a good neighbor, and my husband is gone on business a lot, and toddlers aren’t the great company you might expect. He seems lonely, when I see him (which isn’t often to be honest) I feel his nature wash over me. It drives the others on the street away, even the local teens, bored and wasted on hormones leave him alone, but it just makes me want to talk to him.
Despair is middle-aged and lives alone. I’ve never seen a woman coming or going, early in the morning when the sprinklers run, and when it’s day time he only ever wears the same ratty looking robe and unkempt, spotty beard. At night he wears an old black suit but the beard stays.
He’s the kind of person you might worry about… you know when you read in the paper about a neighbor noticing a funny smell coming from someone’s garage. Sometimes I worry I’m going to be that person, telling the paper, “I’m as shocked as anybody! I thought he was just quiet, if I had known he was in such a bad way I would have helped!”
So I make him cookies when my husband is gone and leave them on his door step with his paper (which I pull out of his unwatered rose-bush) on the weekends.
Only recently has he started taking them. He leaves the platter on my doorstep when he leaves his house late at night. I seem to be getting through to him, and im happy but there is something else. Something in the pit of my stomach twists, when I drop my son off at day care, or make love to husband or have tea with my girlfriends it’s like a part of me isn’t there any longer.
I don’t know if I’m going to keep making the cookies to leave the man named Despair just a few doors down from mine.
People say cookies are made with love. I know this is going to sound crazy but it’s almost like he’s taking that little bit of myself that gets baked into those little cookies and taking it for himself. What would the reporter from the paper say when someone complains of a bad smell and they get around to asking me why I quit. “It was your cookies keeping him going Debra.”
“It’s what he lived for.”
So I guess I can spare a little more of myself. I want to be a good neighbor.