The first time I’m about to really get into it with a boy we’re on the shitty couch in the living room, which mom swears we’ll replace one day, but I think it’s the right venue for everything we do on it. I like the way it makes kissing a boy or watching TV or learning that Grandpa died feel informal, almost uneventful. Life on a shitty couch sort of passes through you.
Me and the boy stop kissing for a second so he can take his shirt off, which is a whole ordeal because he’s so skinny his body is like a wire hanger and fabric gets stuck on all the angles. It’s kind of adorable, somehow, him taking a long time to get his shirt off, and while it’s going over his face, I feel mine. I worry about the patches of stubble I’ve started growing, my shitty fifteen-year-old pizza guy mustache, even though he doesn’t seem to mind. Then his shirt’s over his head and he pulls me back in and Grandpa’s urn on the shelf starts talking to us.
The urn says, “Oh Gosh, isn’t that exciting! Young love!” and its voice is high-pitched and overexcited, gleeful in its inability to understand boundaries.
I say, “I can explain!” as the boy pulls away and throws his shirt back on, looking between me and the urn with equal disgust.
He says, “You could’ve told me your grandpa still talks. We could’ve gone somewhere else.”
And it’s true, I could have told him if Grandpa still talked. His grandpa still speaks, after all, and it’s his grandpa’s homophobic ashes keeping us from doing this at his house. But when my urn speaks, it isn’t Grandpa talking. Grandpa’s spirit is at rest, apparently, and no other soul seems to have been misplaced, but somehow the solid granite vessel that holds his ashes has a voice and a keen interest in our family and a strong preference for the name Irene. Irene is, according to the deafening silence I found on Google, the only urn that has ever spoken with its own voice and not the voice of its occupant.
Irene says, “Oh dear, I’m sorry, please don’t let me interrupt you,” but we already have, and the boy is off the shitty couch and headed for the door, and I can’t explain any of it.
Sean Noah Noah is a non-binary writer whose odd stories have appeared in Reflex Press, Eunoia Review, Bizarro Central, and Plus Literary Magazine. They hold a BA from Hampshire College and are a current MFA candidate at Stony Brook University. You can follow them on twitter here.