Invite Something Wild

Another HitRecord contribution. The prompt was to write a story including the phrase “this is what happens when you invite something wild into your home.”

This is a fantastic prompt because it does that impossible job of both being specific enough to focus a story, and yet vague enough to allow for a wide range of responses.


Her hair had gone short since last I’d seen her. She said it reminded her of flowers, like the trimmed stems of lilacs she used to find along the roadway in towns I’d never heard of.

I’d promised myself that this time I’d turn her away. This time I’d tell her I had a life; I wasn’t just sitting around waiting for her to come back. I was going to tell her, but I didn’t, because I knew she’d see through the lie.

Every few years she’d pop up, as though she herself was some rare flower, some hibernating bulb that only pushed through the surface of my life every few years. She came and we loved and then she’d tear me apart.

She redecorated the kitchen so that it looked like a Betty Crocker ad. Or she’d insist we learn to dance because dancing was what the clouds did. My boss would yell when she’d show up at lunchtime and demand that the day deserved cookies, and tea, and sex in the rain down by the lighthouse.

And then, inevitably, I’d fall asleep thinking that this time everything was right. This time she’d stay. But she never did.

Some morning would just come from nowhere, like a debt collector on an errand, taking what was owed. And I’d wake up to her leaving. Leaving again. Like she did.

If I asked her about it, tiny cruelties would come tumbling from her mouth like battered wind chimes. She’d use some of her same old poetic bullshit to get out of giving me a real answer. One look at the heartbreak in my eyes and she’d be confused that I took it all so personal. As if I was the crazy one.

She’d say she was just following her favorite constellation as it traipsed across the sky. She’d say it was like asking an Eskimo why he sneezed in summer. She’d say it was just what happens when you invite something wild into your home. And that’d be all. Like that explained everything.


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