George usually stared out the kitchen window each morning, before his brain started working. He usually held his coffee and watched the sun rise over his neighbor’s house. It was calming.
Unfortunately for George’s routine, something unexpected blocked the sun. As his brain was still powering on, it took him a moment to realize this was peculiar. “Hmm,” he muttered to himself. “Hmm.”
His wife Lucy came into the kitchen yawning. She poured herself some coffee and joined George at the window. “Good morning, dear,” she said.
“Good morning. Say, Lucy?”
“Have we always had a massive stone obelisk in our backyard?”
The obelisk stood at least twenty feet tall and seemed darker than midnight. Its pyramidal top disappeared into the highest branches of their neighbor’s oak tree. The rising sun revealed words etched in the stone, but George could not tell if they made sense, or if they were even English.
“Oh, I had it installed last night, just as the last star of the Aeron Nebula took its final breath and blinked out of existence, as we all must do when our time comes,” said Lucy. “The girls at the club have all got one now, and who am I to buck trends? Isn’t it beautiful?”
George put on his slippers and walked outside. The obelisk looked even taller and menacing from their backyard. It was doing a remarkable job of blocking out the sun. It seemed to be absorbing any light that touched it, like a black hole. The symbols were brightening.
“Why does it sound like it’s breathing?” asked George.
“Because it is, silly!” Lucy pulled George’s arm to her chest and laughed. “But it’s not breathing air like you and me, oh no. It’s breathing something much less knowable. Something deep within all of us, though we may never truly know what it is, or what we have lost. At least, that’s what Diana told me at brunch yesterday.”
“I see,” said George. His coffee was cold now. “How much does something like this cost?”
“Certainly not money,” said Lucy.
“That’s good to hear,” said George. “I’m going to take a shower. Holler if it does anything.”
“Of course, dear.” Lucy sat, legs crossed, beneath the obelisk and stared. She had sewn the symbols into her pink bathrobe days earlier in anticipation. Now they were beginning to glow as well.
The shower’s water pressure never failed to disappoint George. Water dripped pathetically from the spout, and he had to press himself against the chilly tiled wall if he ever wanted to be clean.
George wondered what his friends would say about the obelisk. How would this affect his barbeques? Would anything cook in proximity to that chilly pillar of darkness? Was their obelisk as nice as Lucy’s friends’ obelisks?
A low hum reverberated through George’s ears, like he had stood too close to the speakers at a concert When he turned off the water, he could still hear it. Curious.
The noise had not left him even after he had shaved and gotten dressed. Q-tips did nothing. He looked out the window and saw only the black obelisk.
“Oh, right.” He was embarrassed to think it had taken him this long to consider the obelisk as a culprit. It was almost definitely causing this infernal buzzing.
George stepped into his backyard and found Lucy where he had left her, albeit hovering six inches off the ground. The belt of her bathrobe barely touched the grass.
Lucy turned her head, a frozen smile on her face. Had she been wearing that much black eyeliner when they woke up?
“Oh, hello, George! Off to work?” Her bathrobe was an incandescent blue. The symbols on the obelisk shone like searchlights, projecting themselves on the side of their house. They were definitely not English. Egyptian hieroglyphs, perhaps? Or something older? George could not be sure.
“I was going to pick up Chinese food on the way home. Does that sound good?” George could have sworn something sat beside his wife, but when he blinked the monstrous outline disappeared.
“It sounds wonderful, but I’m not going to need food after this, George. You should treat yourself! I’ll see you on the next level of existence!” Lucy rose higher and higher as she spoke. She would reach the top of the obelisk soon.
George stood at the gate, debating whether or not he wanted to stick around and see what would happen. He decided against it, as he was going to miss his bus at this rate.
KYLE AMATO is a fiction writer attending Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY. His work has been featured in Skidmore’s Folio Literary Magazine. He did not cry at the end of Toy Story 3.