"Ever since South State took over, I've got ten managers who do nothing but follow me to and from the bathroom," my mother says, and I know it will start now.
The couch swallows her right arm up to the elbow. She stares at me, her eyes already looking back.
I'm on the love seat across the room. Mirror-colored light flows through a space in the curtains behind me, enough of a reason to remember that Fall day—to stir up the shred of memory that causes my foot to sink into the floor. I try to focus on now: I'm recently unemployed; I'm thirty-three, living with my mother, and my wife rarely leaves my childhood bedroom. Now is pain, and I try to use it. But as if to make sure my mind goes back anyway, someone begins bouncing a basketball on the street.
Unripe green pejibaye fruits are clustered at the base of palm trees. A kid named Marcus lets go a surprised laugh, a sound like a popped soda cap. The air is cold, and the sky is the hazy slate color of a cooler door.
Lavon is the oldest of us. The unripe pejibaye fruits are hard, and when he hits you with one it leaves a welt. He is tall and fast, sprinting across lawns with a hoodie pocket full of ammo. I'm crouched behind a palm tree, an arsenal at my fingertips. Pejibaye fruits hammer the tree like rifle fire. I'm laughing, and there is a sweet smell in the air. Breath leaves my mouth in smoky wisps and I watch it disappear. My heart feels like it's going to burst, and...
"First Federal was a family," Mom says, bringing me back.
My leg has sunk into the floor up to the knee, forcing me into a crouched position in front of the love seat. The carpet surrounding the hole works open and closed like dry lips, trying to pull me deeper. I press my hands into the floor and force myself to think of now.
"Hold on," I say, facing my mother.
But the sofa has swallowed her right arm up to the shoulder. The thick cushions swell, folding around her like flesh around a splinter.
"First Federal treated me like a person ," she says, and now, for the first time, I hear the sadness in her voice. She lays her head back and the cushions react, taking it in. "Do you know how much that's worth?"
Dominic Stabile's bizarre fiction has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Sanitarium Magazine, Atticus Review, and Fossil Lake III: Unicornado. He is a regular contributor to Manor Entertainment LLC's horror podcast, which produces haunting audio dramas. His bizarro-noir book series, Stone, is published by Sinister Grin Press. Connect with Dominic on social media or at his website, dominicstabile.com.