Spiritual Hard Hat

“‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo.’”

“Shut up, John.”

“‘You never know wh-’”

“Goddammit!” I spun to face my friend and slapped the hard hat from his hands. “You think I’m joking? You think this is funny?”

John picked up his hard hat. “I mean, you said this was a spiritual hard hat, Mel, and went on about heeding your every word.” John spun the hat in his hands. “What else am I supposed to think?”

“You’re supposed to take me seriously!” I grabbed the hat out of his hands and stuck it on his head. “This is your first day. I didn’t get you this job so you could get yourself killed.”

“Sure, but this is the part where you tell me to get thirty feet of shoreline or the left-handed screwdriver. There’s always hazing and I’m not falling for it. What kind of desk job requires you to wear a hard hat?”

“This one!” I sighed. “I’m not hazing you, John.”

“Then why is my spiritual hard hat also a physical hard hat that looks like every other hard hat I’ve ever seen?”

“Because it’s been imbued with spiritual protection. Did you not pay attention to the briefing you sat through this morning?”

“Yeah, but the dude was in it, clearly.”

“If you don’t take this seriously, your spirit is going to be crushed.”

“Mel, your attempt at joking is crushing my spirit.”

“Fine.” I gave him a push. “Have it your way. You signed the waivers.”

John took off his hard hat, smirked, and stepped into the office floor. I watched his smirk fade as he noticed every employee was wearing a hard hat. A moment later, he slipped it on and turned back toward me. “Really?”

“Really.” I walked up to him. “I’ll show you your desk.”

Visiting Grandma

Like any decent grandchild, I loved my grandmother. She made me cookies, I weeded her gardens, and then we’d sit around eating cookies and watching game shows. I liked to visit her as often as I could growing up, but it wasn’t always easy. Every time we crossed the river, the family got smaller.

We had often talked about bringing her over the river to stay permanently. The river was brutal, but it was fast. Like ripping off a bandage or chopping off a limb. You had to be quick if you wanted to survive.

The forest, though, was a nightmare. It wasn’t as lethal, but the amount of work it took to get through would probably be the death of her. She was a lovely, hardy old woman who would probably outlive her kids, but the march through the trees would have been too much for her.

At this point, I was the only one who made the effort to visit her. My parents weren’t as hardy as she was and they were getting up in years. My siblings had mostly settled down, refusing to travel beyond our little village for anything. They tried to pretend otherwise, but I knew they were afraid. I could see it in the way they clutched their doors and herded their children away when I visited.

I’d made the trip only once before, and that was with a hired escort. Today, I was going to do it alone, even if I was too broke to hire anyone. She hadn’t written in weeks and someone needed to check, the dangers be damned. I could do it. I knew that, if it was at all possible to do alone, I could make the trip over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house.

My Dream Car

Lee stood at the window, folding laundry as he waited for his girlfriend. As he moved deeper into a pile of shirts, he saw a car pull up. A moment of excitement, the car pulled away and he remembered Amy was still too far away.

He took a pile of shirts and put them away. When Lee turned around, he noticed a car pull up to the curb, pause for a moment, and then drive away. Curious, he absently picked up another shirts and kept folding. On the fifth, the car pulled up to the curb, hesitated for a moment, and then drove off again.

Gone were thoughts of shirts and his girlfriend. Lee tossed his laundry aside and moved to the downstairs window. A couple minutes later, the car pulled up to the curb, hesitated, and then drove away.

While he contemplated this pattern, it came by again. The interval between the car’s disappeared and reappearance began to shrink until it came into sight as soon as it vanished. After a minute, he noticed the car creeping closer to his window. He jumped back from the window. He couldn’t see the car past the blinds in any of the windows, but he could hear it zipping around.

Just as it sounded like it was about to tear his house apart, he found himself sitting on his bed next to a pile of laundry, phone buzzing in his pocket. Still listening for the rush of air that was the car, he saw his girlfriend’s picture.


“I’m outside.”

“Sorry.” Lee hurried toward the door. “I dozed off.”

“Really?” Lee unlocked the door and hung up his phone. Amy’s worried face greeted his.“It looks like a bunch of cars drove over your lawn. How could you have slept through that?”