#112 Pattern Play

by Terri-Lei O’Malley

If I die before I wake, the pattern is in danger. As I age, it’s hard to come back from the edge. My name is Crow. And you owe me.

I tried to evolve the pattern—as below, so above. I’m not a creator, but even an engineer can meddle. The pattern is constant, but stories wander, and encouraged wanderings become chimera.

Jools crept downstairs to the kitchen. It had only one window. She poured a glass of wine, sipping it as she made a peanut butter sandwich. Eating the sandwich at the kitchen table, she ignored the shadow puppet drama playing out on the floor beneath the sunny window.

The phone rang in a way that seemed permanent. She answered it.

“Don’t go outside.”


“What part don’t you understand?”

“The part where I listen.” Jools went outside. The screeching faded away like bird song fleeing a hawk.

“I told you not to go outside.” The impossibly thin man sitting on her fence was dark as night shadows.

Jools shrugged.

“I bet myself you would.”

“Who won?”

He jumped off the fence, but Jools stayed obstinately still.

He cocked his head. “I did this.”

“Did what?”

“Fucked everything up. I do that.”


“I get bored.”

A dog-headed snake slithered under the fence.

“May I come in?”

“Yeah, sure.”

“No one else came outside.” He leaned back on her sofa, smelling like wet tree bark. “If I should die before I wake, the pattern is yours.”

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