Stacey was shopping in a supermarket for a big family party. She pushed a bottle of wine wrapped in a pillowcase, nestling in a shopping trolley, and she was convinced the bottle was her four-year-old daughter, Amy; a quiet, well-behaved little girl, with hair clips fastened to her cork and a pleated skirt draped around her midriff.
At home, Stacey sautéed some slugs and frogs she’d plucked from the garden after a torrential downpour the night before. She didn’t mind eating them, after all they’d voted against her in the local election. Then she set the table like she was dealing cards for Texas Hold ‘em—hurling spoons, cracking plates.
Seated at the dining room table was a recycling bin, a car battery, a suitcase, and a lamp shade, all waiting politely to be served.
“Where’s dad?” Stacey asked her son, Eric, the potted plant with grey, withered leaves.
“In the garden. He says he’s not coming in until you get with the program,” Eric mumbled, playing with his oily meal, shaping it into the form of a coffin.
Stacey stepped outside and a tree with swirling green eyes sighed with the wind and said, “How long can this continue, Stacey? You’re talking to bean bags and curtains, for god’s sake. You do know I’m a tree, right?”
“It’s my birthday party,” said Stacey. “Please don’t ruin it.”
“There is no party, Stacey. Face your lies,” the tree declared.
Stacey stuffed tufts of crimped hair into her mouth and bit down hard. She turned to the wall and shimmied up a drainpipe. The drainpipe was her uncle Felix, who wore overpriced cologne from Italy and played the bongos by the river on weekends.
Stacey sat cross legged on the sloping slate roof, caught her breath, then drank in the view. A blood red moon slowly swallowed the setting sun, and a black hole devoured the light on the horizon.
“I don’t know you moon, but I need your help,” Stacey said. “Sometimes I feel like everyone’s against me.”
The moon flashed like a police siren, and said, “I have a solution. Burn your house, burn the city, only then will your family pay for abandoning you.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Let’s just say reality is subjective, Stacey, and you’re not a full set of steak knives.”
Stacey said, “Moon, I hate you.”
Stacey returned to the garden, fuming. She gave the trees and the trembling stars the cold shoulder.
“Come on guys, enough moping. Let’s put on some tunes!” said Stacey as she returned to the dining room. She pumped in some ABBA until her fillings rattled.
Her family seemed unmoved so Stacey picked up her grandmother the sofa cushion, and swung her around the room. Then she pirouetted with a broom, danced the samba with the blender, until she got a stitch and had to recover in her seat at the head of the dinner table.
“Boogie amongst yourselves, okay?” Stacey wheezed.
She waited and waited for someone to make a move, or even utter a syllable. But her family remained silent—stunned, or maybe even awed by her presence—and they did so all night. But she wasn’t worried, it had been this way for years.