Thoughts Do Not Mean Anything
A white veneer sheathed the threadbare carpet, the wrought iron light fixtures, and the railing. The entire stairway shimmered, as if the world was made of milk.
Half-way up the stairs, Rich sensed his spouse and toddler-aged daughter behind him. There was no explaining it, and then it clicked; they’d rented this place for an extended weekend. They were on a family vacation.
Rich passed through the small foyer and into the living room. He regarded the wooden table with its hexagonal surface and its legs carved with deep, dust-gathering ripples like flaps of loose skin. There was the overstuffed couch, the antique sewing cabinet tucked into a corner, and the framed artwork on the walls, and every surface was glossy, glistening white.
The carpet was thick, soft, and flawlessly white.
The walls and twelve-foot ceilings were the same. The bay window’s view was of an unbroken plane of white light.
Rich’s spouse lounged on the couch, using nail clippers to remove a price tag from the sleeve of her dress.
Rich heaved the suitcase onto the table. Despite its weight, when he opened it, he discovered that it was empty.
“An empty chest,” said his spouse, who looked over his shoulder and down into the empty luggage.
His spouse’s face was gaunt. Her eyes were blurred. Her dress was soaked with sweat.
“Where’s the baby?” asked Rich.
“Playing with your dad.” Her dress was made of stiff, textured fabric that seemed more like upholstery than something used to make a dress. It was covered with white and mint-green checks. Rich wore a white corduroy suit that was short in the arms.
“My dad is dead,” said Rich.
“I know,” said Rich’s spouse.
Rich walked down the hall. He passed two unfurnished rooms. Through the window in the second room, he could glimpse the lake—it was a vast, eye-stingingly bright region of white liquid convulsing in silent, violent waves.
Rich’s dad was in the third room, looking like he did in the days before he died. Shriveled and empty, like a plastic bag half-full of fallen autumn leaves. Brittle skin loosely clinging to dry and hollow bones. Rich’s dad was mostly under a blanket, and it was difficult to tell which ripples were limbs and which were tangles in the bedding. His hair was too long, but not long enough to cover his sparkling, milk-white eyes.
Rich’s daughter was there, too. She’d climbed onto his dad’s bed. She was a tornado of wild hair and pudgy, ineffective appendages. She squealed as toddlers do, scrambling over her grandfather’s chest, playing peek-a-boo, pawing at his stubbled chin and cheeks.
“Oh my goodness,” said Rich’s dad. His voice—his whole presence—inflated to the point of bursting with delight and joy.
“Oh my goodness,” he’d said, and Rich stood in the doorway, wishing he was the kind of person who would enter that room and comfort all inside, but neglecting to do so all the same.
Carl Fuerst teaches writing and literature at Kishwaukee College. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin. His stories have appeared in Entropy, Necessary Fiction, F(r)iction, and elsewhere.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.