From Sycamore Review, issue 26.2
Sunday morning was a toss-and-turn affair–one I would have preferred to spend in bed–but a Wilhelm scream from the TV in the living room drove the final nail in that coffin. I didn’t remember turning it on last night, and Dasha was still zonked out in the bed next to me. When I lumbered into the living room to investigate, I immediately recognized the movie that was playing, Hellspawn of the Night Creature, an ultra-low-budget monster flick from the ’60s that had little to recommend it, even to a connoisseur of classic horror and camp like me. The sight of Kaitlyn, the eleven year-old girl sitting cross-legged on the floor with a bowl of oatmeal, too close to the TV, making herself right at home, was far scarier.
I thought she might explain herself, but she only said, “Nice grundies.”
“Can you turn that down a bit?” My head was still sleep-addled. Was it really Dasha passed out under the blankets and not somehow Brianne, Kaitlyn’s mother, with whom I had split up two weeks back? I rubbed my temples and retreated to the bathroom to put some clothes on.
During the four-month horrorshow that was her mother and I, Kaitlyn got her kicks playing pranks. Malicious stuff: she canceled my Discover card the weekend Brianne and I drove up to Niagara. She slipped a pack of AA batteries in my jacket pocket at Wal-Mart to set off the shoplifting sensors. After a few weeks, though, while the pranks didn’t stop, they softened, evolving into something that at least wasn’t designed to run me off. She’d hijack my Facebook account and post that the hair on my ball sack had gone gray, or she’d sneak into the bedroom and hide my pants after we’d gone to sleep. She even started calling me Eddie instead of New Guy. For my part, I tried to keep my distance, because I knew Brianne and I wouldn’t last, but I wasn’t made of stone. I couldn’t help it. I loved the little shit.
If you want to read the whole thing, head over to my contact page and send me a note, or else wait for me to publish a collection. Normally, I’d tell you to buy it from the journal that was kind enough to publish it, but sadly, that’s not an option.