House Anon: free sample

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1

>Be me

>42 yo black male anon

>Empath

Cindy is strutting through my apartment like a pigeon. She is wearing a pair of my boxers – made from soulless elasto-something material. Filling them with planetary arse and equatorial hips. She’s topless, covering bon-bon tits with fingertips and pushing her elbows out into “wings”. Buttocks stuck out, knees bent, she is clucking silently. I glance at the TV which is on mute, there’s a nature documentary on. She’s trying to be a flamingo, not a pigeon.

I mute the video call, “You look more like a Nandos than a flamingo.”

She sticks her tongue out at me and flashes a liquorice nipple. I lower my eyes back to my screen, conscious I’m on camera, but the other attendees are more distracted than me.

My desk is positioned so I’m facing my open plan living room. This ensures the light from the windows illuminates my face rather than blowing out my background. Most importantly, it ensures the wall that supports my bookshelf is in view of my camera.

In the past, we compared the trims on our BMWs. Who had the latest Nokia N series, then Blackberry, then iPhone. The nicest watch, then iWatch. Now I’m 42 and thinking about which books to face-out so that they’re more visible. Which gives the best impression to the zoomers.

>Be me

>42 yo Chief Customer Officer

>Corporate sigma male

>Trying to impress zoomers

The dick measuring never ends.

A snap of elasto-something pulls my eyes up. My boxer-shorts are halfway down Cindy’s cinnamon buttocks. Little dimples appear in her back when she puts her hands into her hair.

“Two minutes,” I mouth. Nobody wants to be on the conference call but nobody wants to end it, because then they would have to decide what to do next. Instead the meeting’s usefulness frays like torn fabric.

“Done,” I say. But before I can shut down the pile of open windows, another call comes through. “It’s Ozzy, I’ve got to take this.” Cindy rolls her eyes and walks out of the room.

“Ozzy?”

“Hey, I’m just checking you’re all set for the weekend.” Ozzy is the 37 year old founder/CEO of Whatever IT Solutions. As director of customer support I report straight to him. He is the only other employee that is closer to gen X than gen Z. He is the only colleague I can speak to off topic without the conversation evaporating over the volcanic canyon of intergenerational values. “It’s a long way,” he says. “You should set off as soon as possible.”

“It’s a long way from everywhere.”

“I know, but we have to get the kids out of the city. You know two of them have never left London?”

I sigh, “You know, I am not shocked at that.”

“They’re brilliant in some ways,” says Ozzy. “In other ways they’re just…”

“Soft?” It’s not the right word, but it’s the best I can do.

“Yeah,” says Ozzy, not satisfied either. “They said it might snow.”

“Ten percent chance. I think we’ll be fine,” I say. “Do you even like the people we hire?”

“Yeah, I like them. But Jesus Christ…”

“I know,” I say, smirking. 

“And they bring everything to work. #NoFilter as the kids say.” 

“I know,” I say, this time not smirking. 

The post-modern workplace is half kindergarten, or should it be erwachsene-garten? Teaching adults with partially-aborted upbringings that there are places outside of London. That there is something called the countryside. But it’s Ozzy’s money.

“There are remote locations and then there is this hotel. Are you sure the zoomers won’t implode?” I ask. 

Ozzy smiles, “Seriously, set off as soon as you can. No need to hang around, all the complaints seem to be in hand.”

“It’s all been handed over to the India support team for the weekend. I just need to pack.” Cindy comes into the front room wheeling my empty suitcase and wearing my hiking jacket over her naked torso. “OK, see you later.”

The call ends. Cindy jumps into my lap. Thick lips on my neck. I bash Alt+F4 until the computer shuts down – hoping I logged off the call properly before she mounted me. She holds my face and kisses me with little tongue stabs. The blue hues of Windows updates throw a cool light over us.

She stops the make-out session abruptly. “Did you forget something?” One half of her mouth rises into a smile. 

“No.” Her empathic ability is stronger than mine. What is she sensing?  

She raises an eyebrow, “I better put on some clothes.”

My phone hums on the coffee table. It’s Lara, my ex-wife. “Hello?”

“What’s the code for your gate, I’ve forgotten,” Lara asks. 

“Why?” I ask.

“Why? So I can get in.”

“Why do you need to get in?”

She pauses, “You’ve forgotten haven’t you?” Another pause punctuated with a sigh. “You’ve got Kanu over the weekend. Are you there?”

“Yeah.”

“The code?”

“Oh yeah,” I give her the code. Several layers of panic twist into a knot in my mind. Which to unthread first?

Cindy comes out of the bedroom, now wearing a pair of indigo jeans and a plain white t-shirt. Her hair is tied back into an unassuming ponytail. She would be perfectly unthreatening if the difference between her white bra and tan skin were not so visible under her shirt. But she seems calmer than me. Almost enjoying it.

“Guess I’m meeting your family today,” she says.

“Yeah.”

“So what’s the situation? You’re supposed to have your son for the whole weekend?”

“Pretty much.” I let out a long breath.

“What are you going to do about that?”

“I’m going to have to call Ozzy and pull out. It’s going to look like a dick move. Like I did it on purpose.” I pick up my phone.

“One thing at a time,” says Cindy. “Let’s just get through the next fifteen minutes.” I nod. A vague, amused warm fog fills my mind, making it even harder to stay calm. “Is that your daughter’s presence I can feel?” asks Cindy.

“Yes,” I say. 

“She’s powerful.”

“It’s probably best if you keep your mind clouded for now. It’s going to be enough of a shock for her to find out I have a girlfriend.”

“No problem. I can’t sense your son.”

“He doesn’t have it,” I say. She raises an eyebrow. “Well his Mum doesn’t so I guess it’s fifty-fifty.”

“Does the mum know?”

“No.”

“She doesn’t even suspect?” Why is Cindy pushing this?  

“Has anyone ever suspected you? Even your closest friends?” I ask. 

“I guess not. I just thought being married…”

“Nope. She just thought I was good with people.”

Cindy sees me glancing around the apartment. “Don’t worry, I’ve put all my underwear away. Your daughter has a huge presence, I’m surprised she hasn’t met others like us already.”

“Maybe she has, she’s 19 now. I don’t know everything she gets up to.”

2

“Hi, Dad,” says Maya, coming into the apartment first. Kanu follows, with his mother, Lara. Before I can say anything, she unloads.

“I… cannot… believe… you forgot. I thought you were doing me a favour…” she sees Cindy.

“I’m Cindy.” She offers her hand and half-bows. Lara shakes it, gormless. Maya is watching wide eyed, her cheeks hard, suppressing a grin.

Then there is a cavernous five second silence, so I step in, “This is Lara, my ex-wife and the mother of my children.” She finally says hello. Then her eyes narrow and scan the apartment.

“This is Maya, my daughter,” I continue. Cindy shakes her hand. Maya is silent but nods. Her mouth is clamped into a tense, but polite grin.

“And this is my son, Kanu.” I notice his outfit for the first time. A blue, fluffy, onesie with exaggerated fox ears on the hood. Kanu is 17 years old. “And I don’t know what he is wearing.” Cindy smiles and introduces herself. Kanu mumbles something. I look at Maya for help, she shakes her head imperceptibly, her amusement is spilling into my mind. 

“Can I speak to you for a moment?” asks Lara.

“Sure,” I say.

“In private.”

I look at Cindy, she tilts her head.

Lara leads me out into the corridor and waits for the click of confidentiality from the apartment door.

“What the hell are you doing?” she asks, I shrug. She continues, “If you’re going to introduce the kids to a new girlfriend don’t you think you should let me know in advance?”

“Really?”

“Yeah really.”

“You’ve lived with three men since we broke up – that I know of anyway,” I say, enjoying the breeze at the moral high ground. 

“Well, that’s different.”

I shake my head, “Are we done now?”

“Is she going to be here all weekend?” she spits. 

“She could be. Why did you bring Maya?” I ask. 

She smiles. I’ve forgotten something and she is relishing having the upper hand again. “She’s going to that festival this weekend. I’m taking her there after I drop Kanu off here. You said you couldn’t take her. You forgot it all didn’t you?” I give her a tight smile. She continues, “Is she even really a girlfriend or have I interrupted a booty call?”

“It’s OK. She’s got to work at the club tonight.”

Lara laughs, “Your girlfriend’s a bar girl?”

“No, she’s a dancer.” As the last word leaves my lips I open the apartment door, locking her face into tight, silent rage. “Let’s step back inside now. Maya won’t want to be late.”

After a few more minutes of awkward formalities inside my apartment, Lara moves to leave. No handshake, no goodbye.

Maya smiles and nods at Cindy, “Nice to meet you.”

“The pleasure was mine, actually,” Cindy says. The two hold eye contact for a moment. Then move into each other for a quick hug. Maya is almost a foot taller but half her width.

Then Maya comes to me, clamps her bony arms around me and plants a kiss on my cheek. She whispers, “Are you alright?”

“Yes.”

“You’re getting weaker,” she says. 

“Only a little.”

“Hmm. Let me know if you need anything.” She pushes warmth into my mind. She’s so loud with her thoughts, a lighthouse. For a moment I wonder if there will be others at the festival who will sense her. I should have done more to prepare her. I make a mental note to teach her how to cloud herself the next time she stays here.

The click of the apartment door announces that it is just the three of us now. In the awkward silence I notice my balls are aching from the unfinished foreplay earlier. I imagine them like rotten plums.

“I need to make a phone call to work,” I say. I step into the spare room, feeling bad that I am leaving Kanu and Cindy to resolve the tension.

Ozzy picks up on the second ring. He’s 37 but he answers the phone with, “Yo.”

“Hi Ozzy. Look I’ll be straight, I’ve fucked up.”

“Which account?”

“No. My ex-wife just turned up with my son. I forgot he is supposed to be with me this weekend. Our pattern has changed and… yeah it’s a fuck up. I don’t think I can come to the retreat.”

“Bring him,” he says.

“Bring him?”

“Yeah. We booked out the whole hotel. Didn’t you read the email?”

“I don’t read your emails, Ozzy.” I am only half joking.

“Others are bringing family and partners too. We have all the rooms, dude. How old is your son?” 

“He’s 17.” 

“He can have his own room.”

“Right. OK.” Shit, this is worse. 

“See you there then. Look forward to meeting him. Oh, he might need some outdoor clothes, if he wants to explore the woods or go shooting or anything. There’s a pool and a gym at the hotel but he might get bored quickly. ”

He’s wearing an aquamarine, cartoon fox outfit, “Yeah, I think his clothes are more… urban.”

“Hold on,” I hear Ozzy tapping on his laptop. “Yeah I thought so. They have an outdoor clothes shop there. It looks a bit tweedy, but fuck it..”

“OK.” This is a disaster. 

“Well you better get going, I think you’ve got the furthest of everyone to travel.”

“Yeah.” This is not happening. 

He hangs up.

>Be me

>42 yo empath

>Has GF 

>Has son

>Scared of spending time with either

Cindy and Kanu are sitting on the couch. Kanu is telling a story, waving his hands around and actually making eye contact. Cindy is smiling at the right points. This is the first time I’ve seen Kanu looking anything but bored since… I don’t know. Kanu pauses when he notices me.

“Don’t unpack your bags. We’re going on a weekend away,” I say.

“Don’t sound too happy about it,” teases Cindy.

“You’re right. It’ll be fun,” I say. 

“I’ll cancel my shifts,” says Cindy. She pulls a massive phone out of her microscopic handbag. The handbag is expensive but has been warped into a twisted shape.

“What?”

“Can’t I come too?” she asks, bringing a hand to her chest, mock offence.

“Fuck it, why not. I’ll see if the neighbours want to come as well.”

“Great,” she says, ignoring my sarcasm and squeals. Her excitement makes me feel hollow. Why am I afraid of this? What is my problem?

“What do you do for work?” Kanu asks Cindy.

“I erm… I work in a bar,” says Cindy.

Buy House Anon.

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