Story 23 is “All Unlooked For” by Nathaniel Lee, a writer living in North Carolina with his wife, child, and obligatory cats. He puts words in order, and sometimes people give him money for them. God help us all if he ever figures out how to make the two events concur regularly. His work, including a full bibliography, can be found at his daily writing blog, Mirrorshards (www.mirrorshards.org) where he publishes a 100-wordstory every day.
All Unlooked For
By Nathaniel Lee
Tricia woke to stabbing pain in her head. The morning sunlight sent lances of agony through her eyes, even with her lids closed. She recognized the rhythmic throb. “God, why did I drink tequila again? I always say I’m done with it for good.”
She heaved herself onto one elbow and paused, feeling that she’d accomplished enough for the time being. Splashing emerged from the bathroom, triggering brief but pleasant memories of drunken sex. Had she hooked up last night? She didn’t see any clothes on the floor. She glanced at the clock. Oh my God. Did I hook up with a morning person? She squinted bleary eyes through the bathroom doorway. The shower was empty.
“The hell?” she muttered, and struggled to unsteady feet. The bathroom was a long and arduous trip away from the bed, especially toting a monster hangover, but she reminded herself that Frodo had carried the burden of the One Ring all the way to Mordor, and she could damned well do better than Elijah Wood in foot-wigs. She leaned against the doorframe. She squinted into the light.
“Oh, hi,” said the squirrel in the bathroom sink. He had spilled shampoo and left little squirrel tracks from the bottle in the shower to the sink, where he stood under the rushing hot water. “I didn’t wake you, did I?” His voice wasn’t exactly high-pitched, like a cartoon squirrel’s, but he spoke so quickly that it sounded as if it ought to be high-pitched.
“Um,” Tricia said. The shape of the hickeys on her breasts made a lot more sense now.
“Yeah, it’s kind of awkward for me, too,” the squirrel said. “I mean, I didn’t even know I swung that way until you picked me up at the bar, and I figured, ‘Shoot, what’s the harm in trying it once?’, and, well, here we are.”
“Why were you at a human bar?”
“That makes sense.” Tricia nodded, and regretted it. She sat on the toilet, head in hands.
“Look, if you just give me a chance to rinse off, I’ll head out,” the squirrel said. “I won’t bother you again.”
“No!” The vehemence of Tricia’s response startled them both. “No, I mean, I invited you. You should stay for breakfast. I want you to stay for breakfast.”
The squirrel blinked tiny black eyes. His fur, dark with water, clung to his tiny skeleton. He resembled a drowned rat.
“Okay,” he said.
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Reviews to date:
Nathaniel Lee leaps out with a dynamic opening in “All Unlooked for” where Tricia wakes to find she’s bedded a squirrel. There’s charm here although the promising opening is not sustained. Nonetheless, it provides food for thought on unusual loves.
– Trent Walters, SF Site.
I really loved “All Unlooked For,” the story of Tricia, who wakes up with a hangover after a barely remembered night of drunken sex. With a squirrel. The one-night stand turns into a relationship as Tricia and Rell have to deal with the issues of a decidedly mixed relationship. Despite the silliness of the entire concept, Nathaniel Lee has come up with a story that’s far beyond jokes and looks into the things that make any relationship so fraught, with the usual and unusual problems that tear people apart. – Chuck Rothman, Tangent Online.
What do you think? This one slapped us upside the head and made us sit straight from the very opening sentence. It’s a wonderful romp through a surreal landscape populated by very real issues. A tour de force, or is that farce? Buy the anthology for this story alone and you won’t be disappointed.