Michael & Gina Sit On The Roof

technologiesMichael had been up here so many times in his life, watching the stars or waiting for fireworks with a good view. This roof had become as familiar to him as his own house had, except he’d spent so much more time here, at Lucy’s, that it almost felt more like home than his own home had. He glanced over his shoulder at the sound of someone coming onto the roof behind him, only to see his friend Gina crawling up to sit beside him, handing him a coffee mug and holding one for herself. Michael took the mug and took a long sip as Gina settled herself beside him on the roof.

“I think I’ve spent more time on this roof than I have inside the house, oddly enough,” Michael said, and Gina smirked.

“Yeah, I know what you mean,” she said, “This roof has seen so much more action than anywhere I’ve ever lived. You remember Lillian Burk? That girl I was in band with in high school, the sort of gothy one?”

“Yeah, I remember her,” Michael said.

“I brought her up here on New Years and kissed her,” Gina said, smiling as she looked down at the coffee she was swirling in her mug, “She ended up not being into it in the end, but it’s a very vivid, happy memory for me. This roof is where I had my first kiss.”

“Did you ever tell Lucy that?” Michael asked and Gina laughed.

“God, no, never. No, Lucy and I weren’t the sort of secret sharing best friends everyone seems to be in love with concept wise. No, we were more like the ‘let’s go to college together and be eachothers bridesmaids’ sort of best friends.”

“I remember when Kyle Lowman fell off this roof,” Michael said, taking another long sip from his mug, “Remember that?”

“I do remember that!” Gina said loudly, pointing at him, “I remember he was getting angry at Tally Spimoni for something, and he lost his footing and slid off the roof into the bushes below! He wasn’t even hurt, but he acted like he was, and of course that made Tally be all apologetic and shit. God, those two belonged together.”

A long pause came over them, as the cool summer air picked up, wafting past them, turning the weather vane on the roof a bit, the both of them watching.

“Everyone’s gone now,” Gina said, “Some are dead, some just moved and lost touch with, the only one we had left really was Lucy, and her roof. I don’t want to lose the roof. I’ve already lost my best friend.”

“They’re going to sell the house, you know that,” Michael said.

“I don’t see why we don’t just pool our money and-”

“Yeah, I can barely afford my rent, let alone half a house,” Michael said, interrupting her before she got too attached to the idea like she usually did, “No, I mean, I’m right there with you, this roof has been a major part of my life for so long, I don’t want to lose it either, but…but we’re going to, and we just need to accept that. You know, I lost my virginity up here.”


“Yeah,” Michael said, chuckling, “Yeah, to Carmen Tortona, from Saint Marys, remember her?”

“You lost it to a girl from a catholic school? Wow, that’s impressive,” Gina said.

“She wasn’t very catholic as it turned out,” Michael said, “But it was like, sometime in the fall, early October, and we were over here hanging out and we were seniors, I remember that, and I think we were here pet sitting cause Lucy had to go visit her grandma or something, and her parents asked me to watch the dog, so obviously I invited a girl over to a house I had all to myself a week.”

“What a casanova,” Gina said, grinning.

“Well,” Michael replied, “I do what I can for the ladies. But we were up here, and it was like one in the morning or something, and we were talking about graduation and stuff and, I don’t know, it just sort of came up that we were both still virgins, and that we liked one another enough and that we both could’ve ended up having our first time with worse people so why not do it with eachother, right?…it was nice.”

Another long pause, as Gina looked at her nails.

“Did you see Lucy after she got sick?”

“A few times,” Michael said, “Did you?”

“I couldn’t,” Gina said, “I feel awful about it, but she told me it was fine if I couldn’t stomach it. The worst part is when she told me she was going to die, I was sad but the first thing that ran through my head was ‘oh no, we’re going to lose her house’. Am I a bad person?”

“Buildings are important to people,” Michael said, shrugging, “I mean, I don’t get it but it’s true. A lot of times, when people recount memories, what they don’t realize is that the memory isn’t so much about when or how it happened or with whom it happened, but where it happened. That’s what actually helps you remember, is the setting. That’s why you were scared of losing the house when she told you she was sick, because this is where so many formative moments in your life occurred, right here, on this goddamned roof. You don’t want to lose that, nobody would.”

Another pause, and then Michael laughed and looked at Gina.

“Let’s take a shingle, each,” he said, “That way, we’ll always have some of the roof with us. Often times these homes when they get sold end up getting redone anyway, so why not? Nobody’s going to miss a few lousy shingles.”

“That’s a good idea,” Gina said, as the two of them got onto their knees and started prying some of the looser shingles free from the roof. They then picked the ones they liked best, and each took one. As they sat there, staring at their respective shingles, Michael sighed.

“Don’t worry,” he said, finishing his coffee, “There will always be other roofs, and there will always be other Lucy’s, cruel as it may sound, but there will never be another Lucy’s roof.”

Gina smiled, stood up and held her hand out. Michael took it, as she helped him up, and the two of them headed down from the roof, through the house, locking it up and out to their cars. Standing there, in the driveway, Gina looked at Michael.

“I’m hungry, you want to go get something to eat?”

“I could eat, yeah,” he replied, “You pick and I’ll just follow you.”


The two got into their cars and drove away. As they left, Michael couldn’t help but glance at his rearview mirror, back at Lucy’s roof one final time, and smiled. He didn’t mean by his statement that Lucy wasn’t special or unique or that she could be easily replaced. Everyone was special and unique and couldn’t be easily replaced. He just meant that there would never be another roof like Lucy’s. One that held so much history of their youth, of their time spent together, their friendship. Other roofs would hold other history, the start of their own families, their own holiday traditions, their eventual children’s youths, but there would never be another like this roof. Yes, there will always be other roofs, other Lucy’s.

But there would never be another Lucy’s roof.

Hey, I’m Maggie. You like this thing I made? Then you might like other things I make, like my depressing webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, or my writing over at Medium. You can also donate at the PayPal or follow/support my work on Patreon! Anything given will go to paying my rent and groceries, and be greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading!


This Won’t Hurt A Bit: The Life Penalty

this won't hurt a bit(2)I think I’ll start this column off by sharing a quote from a piece I read in the latest American Thief zine:

As if we didn’t already have a problem with prisons to begin with, but now with death essentially being eradicated, this makes The Death Penalty a laughable defense. Nobody is scared of it anymore. So do we just keep these people behind bars, forever incarcerated, spending billions of taxpayer dollars on people we can’t kill anymore? That seems to be where we’re headed, and that’s…disconcerting to say the least. Life used to have a single solution for everything, and that solution was death, and without death…what do we really have?

So, with that being said, let’s discuss what the people in charge think the solution should be. Now, I’ve heard a number of ideas thrown around just in the hospital staff break room I work at, but one woman said something that stuck out from the rest. She said, “they should just institute the life penalty.” We already have life sentences, for people who’ve done horrible things to spend the remainder of their lives in prison, so what exactly is the “life penalty”? The way she described it was fascinating to me, and I’ll try very hard to phrase it as accurately here as possible:

“They should just institute The Life Penalty. Instead of killing them or incarcerating them forever, they should let them out under eternal supervised parole, make them get married, have a family and take an underpaying 9 to 5 job, so they can see how miserable life is.”

Yeah. I mean, I was a bit offended, because I frankly don’t find that life all that terrible, but it got me thinking, we’re really for giving hardened criminals a life but we won’t help our homeless? We won’t give health care to our own sick citizens? We won’t even pay for kids to have better equipment to learn on in schools? The prisoners in American live better than the free citizens. Well, okay, I’m in a good mood, let’s humor this prospect. So, what do we do to those criminals who are too dangerous to be let out? Do they get to come out and get the life penalty as well? That doesn’t seem very fair.

Listen, I personally am against the death penalty. I think it’s a ridiculous double standard, the whole “We’ll teach you that killing people is wrong by killing you!” sort of mentality, but this isn’t much better honestly. I recognize, like many other people in this country right now, that we need some sort of law or prison reform of some kind, but I’m in no way even remotely qualified to begin to comprehend what that could entail or become. However, I will relay an incident that happened this last week to me at the hospital.

It was when we were changing shifts for The Sick Zone, and I was on duty. I was standing with another nurse there by the name of Mindy, and we were just shooting the breeze while she waited to get off work and go to dinner. We were talking about one thing or another when we heard someone yelling from down the hall, and another nurse came out to tell us that they had a killer they’d brought in from the prison because he’d been stabbed, and now needed medical attention, so they were going to take him up past The Sick Zone to the upper area of the hospitals. This guy apparently killed his family, and felt no remorse for it, and then went after his neighbors. As they wheeled this maniac past, up to the area where peoples lives are saved, it hit me that the reason he was being saved from The Sick Zone was because prisons take care of their prisoners with health concerns. A legitimate serial killer was getting better healthcare than a law abiding citizen. Someone who’d killed multiple people was going to have his health taken care of by the state, and a single dad with 4 young kids was going to die because he’d lost his job from being too sick and couldn’t afford any treatment.

The Life Penalty? Please. Now that death has all but been eradicated, the only people truly subjected to the death penalty are our own citizens whose country won’t take care of them. This whole damn country is sick, and I may be a nurse, but I’m only one woman. I can’t fix that.

“This Won’t Hurt A Bit: Memoirs From A Post Medical World” is a satire health column created & written by Maggie Taylor that comes out every other Monday. If you like this, you might like some of her other work, like her webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry” and her writing over at Medium. You could also donate to her via PayPal. Thanks for reading!


Gracie Walks Down The Hall

technologiesGracie was standing in the kitchen, just staring at the coffee machine.

It was just finishing up her drink, while the rain dripped off the gutters over the kitchen windows. Gracie glanced out, picking at her nail polish, and felt like her head was swimming in a fog, like she was having trouble remembering even the most basic things. But, that aside, it was a comfortable day. A cozy day inside while it poured outside. It seemed like it was always raining these days, and then Gracie realized she couldn’t remember the last time she left the house. Not that that was particularly a problem, as she loved the house and would rather be here than anywhere else in the whole world.

The coffee machine stopped and she picked up her mug, taking a nice, long sip. As she finished, she didn’t feel any different…any warmer. She still just felt empty, like always. She’d read somewhere that this was just another symptom of depression, that not only do your interests go away but your appetite becomes less and less, and you stop feeling anything at all. Gracie certainly had been treated for depression in the past, but she wasn’t even feeling bad these days. Actually, she wasn’t feeling much of anything at all. Still, she had her house. When her husband had died, the house had become hers, and she had been fighting tooth and nail to keep it, taking any odd job just to make ends meet, along with her 9 to 5 job of graphic design, which she’d grown to hate over time, probably thanks to said depression.

Gracie walked down the hallway, looking at the photos on the walls; trips she and Jake had taken, or family get togethers for the holidays, or the shots they’d each put up of their college graduation, and finally the one of their wedding. Gracie held her mug in one hand as she reached out and touched the photo, smiling warmly. It had been a stunning service, and they’d both been so enthralled with one another despite having been together 4 years prior to the wedding day. She’d been feeling little pangs of pain in her heart since his death, but the last few days she, much like drinking her coffee, didn’t feel a damn thing this time. This house was all she had now from him. It meant the world to her, and seeing as her family moved around so often she never felt like she’d had a home to call her own, until now. This was her home, and she adored it. She would never leave it.

As Gracie entered her bedroom, she stopped in her tracks in the doorway, dropped her coffee mug to the floor, letting it shatter into a million pieces. Right. That’s right. She had to go through this every single day, that’s why she hadn’t been feeling anything for the last week. Gracie sat on the end of the bed and sighed, looking at the floor before looking over her shoulder at her body resting against the headboard, blood splattered on the wall behind the bed, gun in her right hand. Every single day it was something she had to remember. Gracie wiped the tears from her eyes, though they weren’t coming as strong as they had been the first few days.

She’d lost her husband, and then she’d lost herself. But she hadn’t lost her house.

She’d never lose her house.

Hey, I’m Maggie. If you liked this thing I made, you might like some other things I make, like my webcomic, “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry” or my writing over at Medium. If you feel so inclined to help keep me and my girlfriend from being homeless, you can also donate to our PayPal and literally help us pay rent and buy groceries. Anything is greatly appreciated, and thanks for reading!


A Traveling Mind

I fashioned a boat, and set sail to be free, left my pressures behind and became a new me. But it didn’t last long, sure the first week was fine, but soon I had found what had been plaguing my mind. They were things I can’t sail from, things I had scorned, things that I soon found that I’d mourn. Sure, sailing is fine, but you can’t run from your mind, no matter how far you go, it’s not far behind.

So I fixed a car, and drove off with no cares, left behind gossip and rumors and stares. At first it was nice, being alone on the street, forgetting your failures and denying defeat. But try as I might, I knew it can’t last, my tires were shot and running short on gas. You can put up a stop sign, you can drive through the night, but it won’t stop insecurities, it won’t stop your plights.

So I bought a plane, I flew into the skies, away from the pressures, away from the lies. I soared through the clouds, I flew with the birds, ignoring those taunts and all their cruel words. The engines were weak, the landing gear broke, this whole idea had turned into a joke. I was forced to land, my trip was a bust, my reasons were flawed and my feelings unjust.

I tried to sail, to drive and to fly, but it didn’t matter which one I’d try; you can’t run away from the problems you have, the things they have said, their opinions of you rattling ’round in your head. Try as you might, you can’t shake the pain, the thoughts that it brings will drive you insane. So if you can’t run, then what do you do? How do you run from your problem when the problem is you?

Hey. I’m Maggie. Like this thing I did? Then you might like other things I do! You can read my depressing webcomic, “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry” or check out my work at Medium. You can also donate to my girlfriend and mines PayPal if you so wish. Anything you give would be greatly appreciated and go towards helping us pay rent and get groceries. Thanks for reading!


Jessica Throws Herself Down A Well

technologiesJessica Thrush stretched her arm out over its pitch black opening, only barely lit by the dim flashlight she had shaking in her other hand, and opened her clenched fist to allow the pebbles to fall into the well.

After a few minutes, she heard them hit the ground, faintly, and smiled to herself. She put the flashlight on the edge of the well, and took her brown leather jacket off, tossing it on the ground. She then began to pace back and forth as she started to put her hair up in a ponytail, mumbling to herself. She finally stopped, looked at the well and approached it again, leaning over, looking back down the hole. She walked farther away, flashlight in hand, and then beamed it back at the dilapidated house, the shingles sliding off the roof, the paint peeling, the windows somewhat broken. She felt herself get choked up, and quickly shut it down. Jessica started to head towards the house, and pushed on the door, but it wouldn’t budge. She put all her strength into her right shoulder and pushed her way through, realizing that some boards from the second floor had fallen down and wedged themselves between the floor and the door, causing it to be stuck.

As Jessica looked around at the house that used to be hers, recognizing that nobody else had been here in years. She let her flashlights faded beam dance across the rotting wallpaper, landing on the fireplace mantel, where it finally settled on a box sitting on the mantel. Jessica walked over to it and cautiously removed it from the mantel, then made her way to the middle of the living room, sitting down in the middle of the floor, cross legged, and put the end of the flashlight in her mouth. She slowly opened the old box, and inside was a twirling ballerina. The old music she’d left here was still here, and still functional. She wiped the tears from her eyes, her mascara rubbing off on the sides of her hand, and stood up, heading upstairs now.

This was where it’d all been. The only good memories she’d had of her life. Not because of the people she was with here, but because of the place itself. Because of how good the place had made her feel. In the open fields at night, looking at the stars, and in the open fields in the day, looking for birds. Sitting in the upstairs bedroom with her sister, reading or doing puzzles. Sitting with their parents at the breakfast table, laughing and happy. But that was then, and this was now, and now the house was gone, her family was gone, and her will was gone.

When she opened the door to her old bedroom, she half expected to see her sister sitting inside, still reading magazines or listening to records on their grandpas old record player, but no. It was just as empty and run down as every other part of the house. On the old desk they’d left behind, she ran her fingertips across a phrase they’d etched into the wood the night before they left. “Home again, home again, jiggity jig.” She let a smirk skip across her lips as she read it, and then looked at where their old bed was. The place they sat, discussing their first kisses, her sisters first time, and were read stories by their mom at night. But once again, it wasn’t so much the people involved, as much as it was the bed itself. The room. This place had once held so much light, and now it was black as the depths of space itself. After a few moments of running her palm across the decaying wallpaper with the carousel horses on it, she finally let herself head back downstairs.

As Jessica exited the house, she put the music box on the edge of the well and took a long, deep breath. Why wouldn’t she be buried with her family? Why wouldn’t she want to be with them, if she’d loved them so much? Because Jessica wanted to be here. She wanted her final resting place to be the place she’d been happiest. This, to her, was where her life had began, and where she wanted it to end. Jessica walked back to the well, looked into the hole again and sighed. Home isn’t just a place, it’s a feeling, and no place had given her that feeling like this one had. This was her home. This was her casket. Besides, if you believed in the afterlife, she didn’t have to be buried with her family anyway, she’d see them no matter where her physical body landed.

“Home again, home again, jiggity jig,” she muttered under her breath as she shut her eyes, clenched her fists and let herself lean forward, falling headfirst into the well to her death.

This is the first piece in a series I’m doing called “Irrational Attachment To Places”, mostly inspired by this Medium article I wrote recently. These will continue sporadically here and on Medium. If you liked this, you could also check out my webcomic, “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, or my communal site “Sad Party”, where I encourage others to share their sadness so others don’t feel alone.


This Won’t Hurt A Bit: The Sick Zone

this won't hurt a bit(2)The hospital has a problem. We have sick people.

I know, that sounds weird, and thanks to the current way of the world, it is, but it’s a real issue. Thanks to medicare not specifically backing the whole immortality thing, and if it does cover it it doesn’t cover it for poor people, and class war, we now have created a zone specifically for sick people who are dying who can’t afford to live. This is becoming ridiculous. So now, the rich people who can afford to not die, who are only here for checkups or to make sure they can come back to life, they have most of the hospital, and we have cleared an entire 2 floors and dedicated that solely to the “poor” who can’t afford to live. We’ve called it The Sick Zone. It’s essentially full of poor, dying people, who, as the rich said, were “making them uncomfortable”. Yeah. How do you think the poor feel, you rich piece of…

Anyway. I’m on shift with 2 other nurses to basically cover the entirety of The Sick Zone. We empty bedpans, give people their medications, all the usual stuff everyone used to do and have done to them here, but now it’s just two floors worth of people. Hospitals have now become a place of comfort, rather than medicine, and only for those who can afford that comfort and not want anything discomforting, you know, like somebody dying, disturbing said comfort. A few nights ago, I was on the late shift and was fixing a mans medications for him while he laid there and told me about how sick he was, how scared he was, but how, if given the choice, he still wouldn’t want to live forever. Surprised, I asked him why, and he said it all in one word: Tedium.

Existence is tedious. Having to find ways to fill your life, whether they’re hobbies, social activities, work, you name it. It’s hard enough to do that for the amount of time you’re alive, but god, to have to stretch that ad infinity? It’d drive any sane person up the wall. I for one really understood his plight and couldn’t admire his decision more. He told me that he’d done his time, like it was a prison sentence, that he’d done his duties; had some kids, worked his job, accomplished his goals and this was the end of the line. This was existential retirement, and I couldn’t agree more. A lot of people work in the medical field because they are life affirming people. They believe so greatly in life, wanting to help others better their lives but not me. I am in medicine because death has been something that’s been a big part of my life, and I’m comfortable around it. That’s why I think they put me on The Sick Zone.

Then there’s the terminally ill patients looking to end their lives. We have a few of those in The Sick Zone, awaiting their paperwork approval, since the ‘sanctity’ of life has become law of the land. Imagine that. Imagine having to fight for your right to die. Ludicrous. What do the people against this think? “Oh, but they still have some time left to be in absolute agonizing pain!” Idiots. See, growing up, my parents tried to have a second child, and the baby that would’ve been my little sister died a few months after being born. While my mother became relieved to still only have to worry about one child, my father did the exact opposite. He was grief stricken, and started being as “pro-life” as one can be. This confounded me to no end. Why be so attached to a concept that the thing that died couldn’t even comprehend? Why be sad for them, when they themselves never got a chance to even see if they might hate life or not. American Thief did a poll a few months ago back when this whole shitstorm started about being born, and of those polled, a whopping 78% admitted that if given the choice, they’d have opted out of birth, simply because life hasn’t been worth it. I think that says something.

Listen, I’m not here to pass judgement (not that that’ll stop me from doing so, hey, I’m a pissed off nurse okay?), I am here to help those in need. That being said, a person should always have complete and total control over their own body and what happens to it. I mean, everyone except women do, so I guess we’re sort of there. But whether it’s what medications to put into it, what surgeries to have applied to it, what to do with it after death or leading to your death, it is your body and it should be your decision. Death is no longer an absolute. Death is now a product you have to try hard to buy.

We’ve done it, Capitalism. We’ve turned death into a profit.

“This Won’t Hurt A Bit: Memoirs From A Post Medical World” is a satire health column created & written by Maggie Taylor. If you like this, you might like some of her other work, like her webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry” and her writing over at Medium.


Terrible, Thanks For Asking

Sandy Price was sitting at a table, waiting for Reggie Carter to arrive. She wasn’t dressed sharp, as one normally would when meeting with an old friend, and instead had opted for an old torn t-shirt and pajama pants. Thankfully, they were only meeting at a cafe and not somewhere fancy, so she could get away with it. A waiter came by the table and handed her a menu, and she looked up at him, pushing her hair behind her ear.

“Thank you,” she said politely.

“Do you know what you want?” the waiter asked, “Or what you may want to drink?”

“I’m just going to have an iced tea and your most expensive, artery clogging sandwich,” Sandy said and the waiter nodded.

“One slice of quick death coming right up,” he said, before turning and heading off into the cafe. Sandy opened her menu, simply for something to read until Reggie showed up, and after a few moments, she heard a voice in front of her.

“Isn’t it weird how they put how many calories are in each item now?” Reggie asked, taking her seat across from Sandy, “People used to make fun of calorie counters, and now McDonalds puts how many calories are in a hashbrown. Someone will laugh at Global Warming and yet turn off every lightbulb in their house for an hour in an effort to ‘Go Green’ for a facebook event. The hypocrisy and the associated blindness that goes hand in hand is hilarious and yet terrifying.”

Reggie was wearing a nice blue, backless dress and what looked to be a very realistic, well styled blonde wig. She looked beautiful, and at first glance, you’d never suspect she was sick. Sandy was surprised at how seeing her made her feel good.

“It’s just amazing how quickly society adapts to whoever is calling the shots now, and then tries to deny they were ever any other way. ‘Oh, what, being nerdy is in now? Well, good thing I’ve always been a nerd and never shoved anyone in a locker before’. It’s ridiculous,” Reggie said, sitting down as Sandy watched the waiter set her sandwich and drink down on the table, before turning to Reggie.

“What can I get for you ma’am?” he asked.

“I’ll just have a slice of pumpkin pie please,” she said and he nodded, heading off back inside as Reggie folded her hands and watched Sandy quietly take a bit from her sandwich, trying to talk with her mouth full.

“You loof goo’,” Sandy said, chewing and swallowing, “You look good,” she repeated, “I mean, your hair looks nice and-”

“Oh, it’s a wig,” Reggie said, “I mean, it’s a high end model, but it’s a wig. Not that I’m embarrassed or ashamed of it. We all deal with what we’re handed in life, right? Some people got rich. I got sick. It is what it is.”

“You don’t sound particularly sad about being on deaths doorstep,” Sandy said.

“I’m not on deaths door. More like deaths driveway. Still, it happens to everyone, and to some people it happens sooner, so why be upset about something that’ll happen to all of us eventually anyway? Besides, it’s not a total lost cause. There’s still some hope it’ll get better,” Reggie said as Sandy sipped her drink.

“That’s the spirit I guess,” Sandy said.

“How’re you doing? It’s been so long,” Reggie asked, sounding genuine in her interest. Sandy pushed her hair back and pulled it up into a bun before thinking for a moment.

“It’s okay. I’m working as a dance teacher for ballet, mostly for young girls right now, which is fine. Living with a guy named Derek. I’m…we’re….I don’t know what we are. We just are. We live together, sometimes we sleep together, it’s all as vague as the rest of my life to be honest. Not speaking to my mother much. She’s not happy about my job. Not much exciting going on,” Sandy said, her eyes sitting on her drink the entire time.

“…well, it doesn’t sound like a bad life, exactly. I mean, you’re doing what you like, right? And you’ve got someone by your side. That’s better than most people I’ve spoken to from college.”

“Is it really worth having someone by your side if you’re not sure you want them there?” Sandy asked, suddenly surprising even herself by her own statement as it left her mouth, and she clenched her fists tight, “I mean…not that I don’t like having Derek, but-”

“You don’t have to explain, Sandy, I get it,” Reggie said, “Believe me, getting sick really puts into perspective who really cares about you.”


“You’d be surprised,” Reggie said as the waiter came back and set her pie down before leaving again. Reggie picked up her fork and started in on it before continuing, “I mean, they say family is supposed to be the one constant you can always count on, but wow, you really don’t know just how everything comes with an asterisk attached to it. The Asterisk Effect is astounding.”

“The Asterisk Effect?” Sandy asked, continuing eating her sandwich.

“It’s something I came up with with my therapist,” Reggie said, slicing another piece of pie, “It’s like when you go to buy a car, you know, or you sign up for a website, and they have that long list of terms and conditions, and then there’s a whole section at the bottom in fine print because something above had an asterisk next to it, you know? It’s what really matters regarding this contract. The dirty part that everyone tries to sweep under the rug. Everything is affected by The Asterisk Effect. Your family will always love and support you, so long as you don’t become an inconvenience. That sort of thing.”

“I guess I never really thought about it like that before…” Sandy said, mumbling.

“So I guess the thing you really have to do when you look at your life, the things and the people in it, is are they affected by The Asterisk Effect? You care about Derek, but is there a caveat? Is there fine print?” Reggie asked, eating some of her pie crust.

Sandy leaned back in her seat and folded her arms, thinking long and hard about the last few months with her and Derek. Thinking about what they’d said, done, how they’d interacted between themselves and around others. After a few moments, she smiled as Reggie put her fork down and wiped her face on her napkin.

“What?” Reggie asked.

“There isn’t any fine print,” Sandy said, “There’s no Asterisk Effect. In fact, my relationship with Derek is probably the one thing in my life that isn’t affected by that. We’re so open, we talk about everything, we hold nothing back, so there’s nothing to be brought down by it. No. There’s no caveat.”

“Well,” Reggie said, “There ya go.”

Sandy smiled, looking up at Reggie now, feeling better than she had in weeks. After lunch, the girls shopped for a bit before going their own ways. They made plans to meet again in a few weeks and Sandy told her that if she needed any help, being driven to appointments or anything, to call her. When Sandy got into her car, she thought about Derek, and started driving to his part time job he’d recently picked up, doing photo editing in a darkroom downtown. Sandy got there in scant minutes, got into the building, and found the darkroom, which she entered without a second thought. Derek turned to face her.

“Hey, be careful, any light could-” he started before she interrupted him.

“I need to ask you something,” she said, “Is there any fine print between us? Is there…is there anything that would ever make you change how you feel towards me, or about me, or us in general?”

“I mean, if you tried to kill me or something that might sour the deal, but otherwise, not really,” Derek said.

Sandy waited a second, took her hands off her hips and locked the door, and approached Derek, pushing her lips against his.

Hey. I’m Maggie. Did you like this thing I made? Then you might like some other things I make, like my depressing space webcomic, “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, or my new site “Sad Party”, where I encourage others to share how low they feel so others feel better. You can also donate to my SquareCash. Thanks and enjoy!