The Curse

© Jaye Milius and jayemilius.com, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jaye Milius and jayemilius.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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In the movies, gypsy women were always old and ugly and their curses were always well deserved. Alan didn't know much about his downstairs neighbor. She was weird, sure, but she couldn't be much older than he was and she was actually kind of hot if you were into vintage dresses and way too much eyeliner. He hadn't meant to cut her off yesterday. They'd both pulled up to the parking spot in front of the building at the same time and it wasn't like they had assigned spaces. He supposed he could have been a gentleman about it, but girls like that didn't like it when you treated them nice. She could walk her empowered ass around the block. Besides, he'd been tired.

He didn't think she was foreign either, but as she'd driven past him, she'd rolled down her window and yelled something that he couldn't understand. He thought about it now as he lay in bed clutching his stomach, trying to puzzle out what she had said.

It had woken him in the middle of the night, waves of nausea that came without warning and passed just as quickly. By the time he'd stumbled to the bathroom it was over, but by then his brain had woken up and didn't seem to have any intention of letting him sleep. He tried to remember what he'd had for dinner and realized that he'd forgotten to eat. The whole concept of food was just so unappealing. But if he'd forgotten that, what else had he forgotten? He was sure there were things he needed to do, felt suddenly guilty that his apartment was such a mess. Getting up to clean would mean really committing to it, though, and his stomach was hurting again.

He called into work, vaguely blaming the dinner that he'd never had. And why not take a day off? No one there really appreciated him anyway. He'd more than earned it.

Pulling on some shorts, he stumbled into the kitchen, grabbing three granola bars and a bag of chips along the way. Half the chips were gone by the time he reached the couch. He still wasn't much in the mood for food, but salt was better than food and he found himself licking his fingers. This was a good idea. He finally had a day to himself. He'd rest, get his head together and feel better tomorrow. Everything was going to be okay.

Daytime television wasn't going to do him any favors, though. It was all soap operas and cooking shows, stuff for bored housewives and old ladies. What he needed was something awesome, something violent. He found what he was looking for in the premium channels – a burly action star was running down a deserted city street, firing a very big gun at the zombie horde behind him. One of the zombies was gaining, his beautifully gory maw snapping at the man's heels. At the teeth closed, the hero's dog leapt into frame, knocking him out of the way and—

"No!" Alan was on his feet, gaping in horror. "No! What are they thinking? You never kill the dog! That's, like, a rule."

The TV had gone blurry. He wiped at his eyes. It's not like he'd ever had a dog. He'd even seen the movie before. It was a good one.

"Shit. And now I'm talking to myself?" He sniffled. 

Hurriedly changing the channel, he settled back onto the couch. He'd stopped on a soap opera, but one of the actresses was pretty cute. Really cute, actually. He ran a hand across his shorts and suddenly the nausea was back in force, sending him reeling for the bathroom. He'd downed the granola bars and finished the chips but, just like before, his heaves were dry.

He sat back on his heels, wiping at his mouth as he remembered the encounter with his neighbor. "That bitch." She had done something to him. He knew it. All over a stupid parking spot. But he wasn't really surprised. Chicks were always overreacting.

He should go down there, tell her to make it stop. That's exactly what he would do.

Alan pushed to his feet, but his stomach was churning again. He barely had time to shove his shorts around his ankles before falling back onto the toilet. Each time he tried to rise, it flared again, sweat beading on his brow.

"Holy shit."

When he had finally recovered, some of the fight had gone out of him. He was tired, bone tired, the deep-down sort of drained that had nothing to do with physical exertion. The very will had been sucked out of him. He almost went back to the couch, but that bitch had done this to him. He needed to give her a piece of his mind.

Shuffling into the bedroom, he stared into his closet. What did you wear to tell someone off? Did you try to look good? Like you really didn't care? He didn't know why he was stressing over it. It wasn't like he liked her or anything. Why should he care what she thought?

He tried six shirts before he found one that worked, tossing the rejects into a pile on the bed in mounting frustration. It wasn't just that they were snug; everything just felt wrong. He'd just shit out half his body weight, so why did he still feel full? 

His jeans were no better, despite the fact that he'd worn them yesterday. Tugging them on, he adjusted himself. "Maybe my balls have gotten bigger. That's all it is."

Maybe they had. There was an ache now, deeper than his stomach. His eyes went wide.

Darting back into the bathroom, he dropped his pants and checked himself. Everything felt right... he thought. What did testicular cancer feel like? God, could he be dying?

When his hand came away red, it took him a moment to register what he was seeing. Blood? Had he strained that hard? Where was it coming from?

He saw it then, oozing from the tip. No. He squeezed. It oozed.

"Fuck!"

He went careening back into the living room, pants still around his ankles. This wasn't happening. God, he really was dying. That bitch had killed him. He kicked at the coffee table, screaming as he stubbed his toe, almost falling as he gripped his cock, trying to stem the flow.

He needed to get downstairs. She needed to make it stop. She needed to tell him that this was really happening, that he wasn't going crazy. She needed to do that most of all. But he wouldn't cry, not in front of her.

Back in the kitchen, he wrapped a wad of paper towels around himself and tugged his pants back on. It would have to do for now. On his way down the stairs, he took a moment to compose himself. If she had done it, she could undo it. He probably wouldn't even need to go to the hospital. Probably.

When he knocked, the chick who answered was someone he almost didn't recognize. Her hair was up, her makeup gone, her hipster-goth-whatever garb replaced with a t-shirt and sweatpants. She clearly wasn't happy to see him.

"What?"

"Weird question…" He leaned in the doorway, trying to look casual. "Did you wish my dick would rot off?"

Her eyes narrowed. "No."

"You didn't, like, do some witch thing?"

"No." She started to close the door, but he caught it with his hand, unsure of what to say. Something in his eyes gave her pause. "What's wrong with you?"

"You're sure you didn't do anything? Like, after I took that parking spot yesterday?"

She folded her arms. "You here to apologize?"

"No. I mean, maybe. I just... I woke up sick today. Really sick. I thought you might have, y'know..." He waggled his fingers in a poor imitation of movie spell-casting. "Cursed me."

That finally seemed to amuse her. She laughed, doubling over. When he tried to interrupt, she held up a hand, making him wait. Finally, she straightened, wiping a tear from her eye. "No. No I didn't curse you." She almost started laughing again. "Just at you."

"Shit."

"I did find a spot, by the way. Three blocks away. Made carrying my groceries a real bitch. You owe me a pint of ice cream, actually."

"Sorry."

"Really?"

He shrugged.

"So why do you think you're cursed?"

"Well, for starters, I'm bleeding from the dick."

"Eesh. You should probably get that looked at."

She didn't get it, didn't understand how serious this was. He unbuttoned his fly.

"Jesus! Not by me!"

"Oh. You sure? I mean, it's—"

"Dude. I don't want to see your dick."

"You gay?"

She glared. "No. You're just an asshole."

"Oh. Well, it's not just that. My stomach's killing me and I can't seem to stop sweating and I'm just so fucking tired and I can't focus on anything and I cried over some dumb dog and – god! – I can't even stop talking. I'm sorry I bothered you. This was stupid. I'm just going to go upstairs and die alone."

She was staring up at him, wide-eyed. After a moment, she smiled. "Holy. Shit. This is awesome."

"I'm dying!"

"You're not dying." She turned and went inside, beckoning for him to follow.

Her apartment wasn't bad, hung with tapestries and framed movie posters, nothing particularly sinister. He closed the door and she gestured for him to sit at the kitchen table, while she disappeared into the back. He had no choice but to comply. After a minute, she returned, hiding something behind her back.

"What's that?"

"A gift. Apparently." She seemed amused, like a cat that had cornered a bird. She sat down across from him and just stared.

"What?"

"I... may not have been entirely truthful earlier."

"You did curse me! I knew it, you bitch!"

"Calm down, princess. Like I said, I cursed at you. Frequently. The whole walk home."

"So?"

"I wanted you to know what it felt like."

He rolled his eyes. "Walking three blocks? Oh no."

"Walking three blocks. With heavy groceries. On a hot day. While my vagina was sloughing itself into my pants."

"Ew." Holy shit. He wrapped his arms around his middle. "Wait… you mean? Oh, ew."

She was laughing again.

"That's not funny! You couldn’t…! That's not possible!"

"Yeah, but there's not a woman out there who hasn't made that wish. I guarantee you."

"You wished a man-period on me? How could that even happen?"

She winked. "Don't you know? Girls on their period are magical."

"Now you're just fucking with me."

"No, now I'm helping you." She finally pulled the thing from behind her back, dropping it on the table between them. It was a little square wrapped in pink plastic.

"Ew."

“Don’t be such a baby.” She grinned. “It has to be better than whatever you're wearing now." She peeked under the table. "Don't tell me you're bleeding on my chair, though."

"Paper towels."

"What?"

He stared down at the tabletop. "I... wrapped it in paper towels."

She laughed, actually rocking back in her chair. "Holy shit. We have to call someone. This is historic."

"No! Seriously, no. You can't tell anyone."

Her smile wasn't exactly reassuring, but she slid the little square over to him. "I hope you don't wear boxers. I don't think a tampon would work in your case."

"You really think that's what this is? It's not cancer?"

"Well, I'm not a doctor, but I'd say it's a good guess. You were practically crying on my doorstep. And what was that about a dog?"

"I was watching a movie. It died."

She almost laughed again, but managed to choke it down. "That sucks. You think the movie studios would know not to do that."

"I know, right?!"

Shaking her head, she sighed. "I'll give you some Midol too. Trust me, it'll help."

"How long… how long will this last?"

She shrugged. "Everyone's different. A few days."

"I'll have to call into work."

She snorted.

"What?"

"You’re such a wimp. Most of us don't get that luxury."

"You called in."

"I work from home. Suck it up."

He looked down at the sanitary napkin, touched it gingerly. There was a pattern on it, cartoon women dancing in twirling dresses. "Am I really supposed to feel like dancing?"

"Hah. You should see the flowers they print on the inside. I almost feel bad making it look like a triple homicide in a rose garden." She chuckled. "See? You can smile."

"Ugh, I don't feel like it."

She reached across the table, hesitatingly only a moment before taking his hand. "Then don't." She smiled up at him, her voice soft, patronizing, barely concealing another fit of laughter "But this is a special day, a magical day. I think it's time you embraced your inner goddess." 

"Did your 'inner goddess' tell you to do this to me?"

"Absolutely." She grinned. "Unfortunately for you, my inner goddess is a vicious cunt."