Aunt Jeanne – Short Fiction

Emil, young people today look up at heaven and see
nothing. And the earth below their sparkling sneakers
is just service to a feeling. You’re the exception, Emil.
You will know how to treat a woman, you will know
God and be an extension of his Hand. You’re better
than them–your loneliness is the marker of great
difference. They can’t look at you Emil, the way
you really are, cause they look up at heaven and see

Emil Bennett was driving around at midnight, thinking about his Aunt Jeanne, who raised him and told him all sorts of useful things–about how there is actually good and evil in the world and how, if Emil was decent, good things will come forth to him.

But her words now seemed false, or at the very least, simplistic in thought. Maybe there was actually something wrong with him and the way he remembered what his Aunt Jeanne told him. She had been dead for nearly a decade and what remained of her was a construction that glowed in Emil’s mind when he needed her, or thought he did. She was the only person that made him understand that there was nothing wrong with him, but with everyone else who were selfish and lacked the ability to see beyond themselves.

However, as Emil was driving down streets, stopping and going at intersections with no real plan or direction, he thought about the Aunt Jeanne that he had made, rather than allowing it to comfort him.

Suddenly, Emil was in the house he had grown up in, the place where his aunt and uncle raised him. He was walking down the hallway leading to the bedrooms. But he couldn’t look at the portraits hanging from the walls. They were all nebulous blurs floating in the sides of his vision. The walls, he noticed, as he was walking seemed to lack color even though they looked the same as they did back then.

Soon, he reached the end of the hall and opened the door leading to one of the back rooms where dust gathered on old books and heirlooms. Aunt Jeanne was sitting by the window. The window glowed a whiteness that shaped her face. But Emil couldn’t comprehend the face. Like the pictures in the hallway, it was vague, and like the walls she resembled everything that was once, but not in essence. Emil knew there was a smile there, but only because he had put it there in his mind, but yet could not see it. He turned and looked at the rest of the room. He used to read the old books and look at artifacts representing his family’s past and wipe the dust away. But all he saw were things filling a room. It all seemed like junk from a distance, but if he were just able to approach and start pulling individual items, meaning would be found and understood. But he couldn’t move closer into the room. His mind only allowed a distant glance.

Emil’s hands squeezed the wheel. He was at another intersection, the light red. In a moment he had forgotten the places his mind wandered to and how it got there. And the once-certain sadness that fueled his aimless driving had faded into a slight emptiness. The light turned green. He pushed forward, down the street, and minutes later went home, disappearing into his room.


The prisoner woke-up and saw the usual grey and green brick walls. Every night he slept on a straw bed. He had a wooden stool that wobbled on the floor, and a window with a tree in it. This was his room, a home which he lovingly called his “Mausoleum.”

The first time he was cast into this room he was a man, defiant about not letting this suffocating hole shut out his dignity. First, he tried to accept this situation and look upon it objectively, forbidding emotion to drive him into despair. When he was marching down the hall to meet his prison the hall was filled with indignant screams, howling and groans from the other prisoners that occupied their own spaces. He didn’t want to be like that; he was a man. But that first night, when he was staring at the tree outside and the cold surface of the moon his stomach rebelled and turned to sickness. He wouldn’t eat the bowl of brown gruel and bread, and felt like a pathetic animal as he lied awkwardly on the straw. The air alternated between staleness and dampness and his neck gagged. The pain in his stomach was harsh and he could only yell and cry.

But now, he was no longer sick; he was no longer a suffering animal or a man adamant about dignity. He was a man who marveled at the tree outside and wondered what the previous occupants of his room thought of this tree. Surely, some fools saw it as a symbol of freedom. Perhaps a prince stared at the tree and felt it was placed there by sadistic hands, intent on mocking his utter downfall. The prisoner didn’t know better for he often looked at the tree both ways, disgusted, or consumed by joy as the wind moved the leaves.