Today marks the halfway point in the project wherein I post one one-page story a week on this site for a year. Thanks for reading.
Ted’s neighbor Selena invited him to attend a séance at her house. When he got there he found that one of the attendees was his former high school math teacher, Iliana Silver—not a spirit of her, she was still alive, scowling on the sofa, no closer to teaching him math or treating him with an ounce of generosity. Morris Undelage, who had accidentally run Ted and his bike off the road with his car and never apologized—on the contrary, had blamed Ted—was also present, in a hard-backed chair. Ted didn’t know the others. Selena took his hand, brought him to a chair—right next to Morris—and went around closing the window shades before taking a seat across the room from Ted. The room was dim. They were seated in a circle. Selena asked them to close their eyes and be silent. She said some things about welcoming the spirits and so on. She said people could open their eyes and invited anyone to say whom they’d like to contact. Iliana said, “I’d like to see my mother, I miss her so.” It was quiet for a while and Ted got fidgety. “Mama!” he heard Iliana exclaim. “Oh Mama,” she said, and wept. Ted couldn’t see anything except this old woman weeping in the dim light. Morris leaned over to Ted and whispered, “This is bullshit. Want to go to the kitchen and have some pancakes?” He got up and Ted followed. In the kitchen Morris said, “You just sit there at the table and let me take care of this, I make terrific pancakes.” “Why are you doing this? I thought you hated me.” “I don’t hate you. After I knocked you off your bike I was scared you were going to come after me for everything I’m worth.” “No, I just wanted to be treated with a little kindness and compassion.” “Thus the pancakes,” Morris said, and put a plate of them in front of Ted. They were delicious. “I think you and I are alike,” Morris said. “We both want everyone to be nice to us and we want to have a lot of material comfort, but the difference is that I’m confident those things will happen and you haven’t gotten what you’ve wanted for as long as you can remember.” “How do I turn that around?” Ted asked. “With pancakes,” Morris said. Ted lost track of things for a minute and found himself back in the chair in the living room. Selena was opening the shades. The séance was over. Ted put his hand on Morris’s shoulder and said “Thanks.” Morris pulled away, frowned, and said, “I don’t know why you’re thanking me or why I’m here.” “None of us knows why we’re here,” Iliana Silver serenely said.