the short story project


Erin Hickey

Foster St 

I struggle with the idea that I am not perfect. I’m almost sure that I am except for my, uh, condition. I’ve never formally been diagnosed but what else can it be?, ” A moderate to Severe case of continuous unwanted thoughts, followed by strange repeated actions.” The closest thing I could label it as is Obsessive Compulsive disorder. Anyway it doesn’t matter what I call it, just as long as I follow my routine I rarely have any problems.
I begin my weekdays at a prompt 7:05 A.M. Always at 7:05: never sooner, never later. I put on my pale blue slippers: left foot in first, right foot in second. I stagger across the bedroom into the bathroom and wash my face twice. Stumbling down the stairs, I assure that I don’t touch the third step down.
Then it’s time for breakfast: whole wheat toast alongside breakfast tea with honey and a sunny side up egg for good measure.
When I finish, I make sure to toss the laundry from the washer into the dryer. When the clothes are finished, I fold them and bring them to the bac-
Something is wrong. I am forgetting something.
There are no faults to my system, yet the feeling only grew. And I hated it. It is my perfect system.
Positive I hadn’t skipped anything, I went along with my morning. I made sure to leave the light on in the barn, walked to my car, and drove to work.
At work, the strange sensation continued to eat me up inside. I barely got anything down, I can’t work well when I’m stressed. Fortunately my boss didn’t notice the lag in my performance. It’s not as if the duties of a bakery receptionist are all that tedious.
After work, I got into my car and started to drive home. I had almost lost the feeling of uneasiness when I turned onto Foster St. It’s a long street, beginning in town and slowly giving way into forest. There are no street lights save for a few intersections. By the time I reached the road leading to my house, I felt terribly sick, and my palms started to sweat. Trying to maintain my composure, I kept my clammy hands on the wheel, but my foot felt like it was getting heavier. I had a growing urge from deep inside to speed up, but again, I managed to suppress my feelings until I got home.
I continued with my afternoon routine when I arrived home. I washed my car as I do everyday and cleaned out the trunk. I always make sure to finish before it gets too dark and quickly rush into the old barn. Once there, I wash what I can. I scrub the floors twice with the radio on high volume, usually some sort of classical piece. I went back into the house when I have finished and took a shower in the bathroom down the hall. Always this bathroom, never the one upstairs. I grabbed the clothes from the backdoor, change, and turn on the washing machine. Then, I take my boat out onto the lake and assure that I get at least 10 minutes away before coming back after gazing up at the stars. By the time that is all over, it’s about time for dinner, and unlike breakfast, I’m free to whatever my heart desires.
Although, I wasn’t expecting tonight’s dinner to be so, well, unsatisfactory. I sat down to a simple escarole soup; however, after taking my first bite , my stomach dropped. It twisted and clenched, rejecting anything I dared to swallow. The anxious feeling that had been stalking me throughout the day caught up with me.
I snapped.
While I am almost always composed, this just felt utterly wrong. If I had any neighbors, I would imagine their quiet evening being rudely interrupted by my repeated screams of frustration:
“Wrong, wrong, wrong! What the fuck is wrong with me!?”
I threw the dishes from the table onto the floor. After that outbreak, I decided it would be best to go to bed.
The next morning, I get up at 7:05, put on my slippers, wash my face twice, and go down the steps as per usual. I eat my daily breakfast of whole wheat toast, breakfast tea with honey, and a sunny side up egg. I switched the laundry and brought them to the back door, turning the light on in front of the barn, and then I went off to another day of work.
On the way home, I turned onto Foster St. After driving 15 minutes down the road, I reached the intersection where a man was crossing the road. He was about my age, roughly 25 or so, and I guess he was going for an evening jog. I didn’t really have a chance to ask him. I gripped my steering wheel and slammed the gas pedal.
He fell onto the pavement. I quickly got out of the car and dragged the man to the trunk and lifted him in. I drove the rest of the way home where I then washed my car and cleaned the trunk. I dragged the body to the old barn and turned on the radio. Fortunately, he remained unconscious, so I started working at once.
Grabbing my tools, I put the organs into the freezer and finished up on the rest. I placed the bones along with the rest of the man into trash bags and took them outside. I scrubbed the barn twice and made my way out the back door. I shower, put on a change of clothes, and turn on the washing machine. I walked back outside and took the bags to the boat, dumping them into the lake.
Now it’s time for dinner.
I decided on a mushroom risotto with fresh kidneys seared in a white wine sauce plated next to a generous serving of fresh greens. I sat down to eat my meal and smiled.

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