It Spawned and Grew

Photo by Thgusstavo Santana on

Their house had been built at the escape hatch of a wormhole. As a result, they’d find the oddest pieces of trash up and down the hallway.

It was never anything useful. More like the corner of an M&M wrapper lost or forgotten as the litterer enjoyed their confections. Sometime after it fluttered away, lost to the wind, it slipped into the wormhole.

Impressions of garbage — lost corners torn from snacks, the annoying shreds of paper found caught in the spring of a spiral-bound notebook, or coffee-soaked scraps of paper ripped from the page when it was snatched up without moving the cup — routinely littered the carpet.

It was customary to pick up slips of garbage as one made their way down the hall. She was collecting bits of trash on her way to get ready for bed. A crash from behind her stilled her hand as she reached for a colorful scrap of paper likely shorn from a windshield flyer.

Never had anything larger than a paperclip come through the passageway. That was no paperclip she’d heard. Her heart pounded so loudly in her ears that she struggled to listen further. She willed it to be still and silent.

“Something wrong here,” spoke a gruff voice.

She swallowed hard. She begged herself to turn around. She commanded herself to run.

“Do anything but just stand here you dummy!” she chastised herself.

Another loud crash followed by a string of curse words finally brought her around. After all, it sounded like she might not have a house left if she didn’t intervene.

“Oh, sorry. Excuse me. Pardon me.”

Was he apologizing to her furniture? The moment continued to spiral into the stranger as she stood and watched the spaceman in his space suit attempting to maneuver through her cozy living room.

She laughed out loud when he knocked over her tall standing lamp, caught it like he was dipping a dance partner, spun it around, and landed it back in its place before bowing and apologizing. Her laughter drew his attention.

“Is this your domicile?” he asked.

“It is,” she giggled. He was so formal.

“What kind of air do you breathe on your planet?”

What an odd question, she thought, as she stared at him quizzically.

“Miss?” he pushed.

“What all earthlings breathe,” she teased. “Oxygen, mostly.”

“Earthlings?” he shouted exuberantly. “You mean I’ve made it back to earth?”

She began looking around for the cameras. This had to be a prank, perhaps orchestrated by her brother. Jimmy still stayed in his childhood bedroom whenever he was in town.

It was just like him to sneak into town just to set up some elaborate hoax. She’d been the unwilling star of too many of his YouTube stunts to fall for another one.

“Jimmy, is that you?” she asked as she reached for his helmet.

He slapped her away. It left an immediate welt on her forearm. Jimmy was the type of brother who never struck his sister, even that time when she’d punched him so hard she’d broken his nose and his cheekbone.

She was instantly frightened again.

“I’m sorry,” he immediately began tripping over himself to apologize. “I’ve been floating through space, being sucked from here to there, never knowing where I might land. I can’t recall the last time I encountered another living soul.”

He sounded sincere. Still, she’d keep her distance and watch him closely. She rubbed her arm as she spoke.

“If you’re from earth, you should be able to breathe here. I would feel more comfortable if I could see your face.”

“You’re right, of course,” he admitted without making any moves to remove his helmet.

“I’m really going to have to insist that you either reveal your face to me or carefully turn around and use the door at the opposite side of the room to exit my home.”

She kept her back pressed to the wall behind her as she slid along it towards the kitchen. It was the only room she was confident she would find a weapon with which to protect herself.

“You’ve no need to be afraid,” he reached for her.

She crab-ran the rest of the way. She grabbed two knives from the block on her counter. In her right, she clutched the paring knife; small but sharp. Though she had less control of her left than her right, she was comforted to see her chef’s knife clutched tightly in her fist. Even with wild swings, it might slice an assailant to ribbons.

He hovered at the doorway. Filled the space fully. He was a large and imposing man. He held his helmet in front of him. His eyes were a striking blend of green and gray. She was mesmerized by their swirling color.

“Woah, woah, woah,” he set his helmet on the floor at his feet and splayed his hands. “I’m not going to hurt you. I’d just like to ask you some questions if you don’t mind. See,” he pointed to his helmet, “I’ve removed my helmet as you asked.”

He pointed to the kitchen table; a little nook in the corner, perfect for one or two people to enjoy breakfast in the morning. Not enough room for much else. He raised an eyebrow questioningly.

He’d certainly be less imposing if he were to take a seat. She nodded. He folded himself onto the small bench. He looked even larger as he dwarfed the small space. She found herself admiring his beautiful face. When he caught her staring, she busied herself making coffee.

She kept both knives within easy reach as she dumped old grounds into the trash and rinsed the basket with hot water. She dumped the remnants of the morning’s coffee into the sink, gave the pot a quick swirl with hot water, and then filled it up with cold. Soon, the coffee machine was gurgling as the kitchen filled with the mouthwatering aroma of brewing beans.

Idle hands nervously toyed with the knives. He quietly watched her. His dreamy eyes danced with amusement. She lifted a washcloth from a drawer beside the sink and dampened it. She wiped her spotless counters as she waited for the pot to finish.

She wished he would ask his questions, but he just sat there waiting patiently. Waiting for what? The coffee to be served? For her to spill share? She waited for him to tell her. The coffee gurgled in the silence.

“Do you live alone?” he finally broke the silence.

“I share the house with my brother. He stays here whenever he feels like swinging into town. I never know when to expect him.”

It didn’t ring quite as truthful as she’d hoped. Again, she searched for cameras. She tried to be discreet. He followed her eyes, unsure what they sought. The coffee pot gurgled its final gurgle. She slipped two mugs from their hooks.

“How do you take it?” she asked as she pulled the half & half from the fridge.

“However you’re serving is fine. I can’t honestly remember the taste of coffee anymore.”

She wondered how long he’d been floating in space. She didn’t ask for fear of looking the fool on Jimmy’s YouTube channel.

She put just a small spoonful of sugar and a generous splash of dairy into each mug. She stirred as she poured in the hot coffee. She rinsed the spoon and set it near the pot. She returned the half & half to the fridge. With no excuses left, she carried the coffees to the table and sat across from him.

Love Sick: Stories is out now

Do you enjoy reading Tiffany’s stories and poems?

Book Cover: Heart with arrow through it; in from bottom left coming out at top right Inside the heart reads, "Love Sick" To the right of the bottom point of heart it reads, "Stories" Across the bottom, below the heart, it reads, "Tiffany Higgins"

You can own a book of Tiffany’s stories

Love Sick is a multi-genre collection of stories about the love we find ourselves caught up in.


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