Category Archives: Kids

6 Spots In My House Where My Daughter’s Ghost Can’t Find Me

By James Sweeney

An excerpt from our hottest text strudel, “Nonsense’s Guide to the Supernatural

There are certain aspects of life you never really engage with until you have to…until you’re forced to. I know that now. A lot of people say they want to understand death. They say they want to learn to embrace it, and explore the beauty in it. They’re full of shit. You don’t want to understand. You don’t want to understand what it’s like to live every day under a black cloud of memories that hurt too much to remember, and yet far more to bury deep inside yourself, the shame of trying to forget how happy you used to be. You don’t want to watch your little girl wither away for two goddamn years, to watch her shrink into nothing right before your eyes. Try moving on from that. Try picking up the pieces after that. It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do; and it doesn’t get any easier when your baby girl’s spirit chooses to root itself in your home rather than crossover to an eternal afterlife. At this point, I’m just thankful I have a few spots I can escape to when the ghost of my beautiful dead daughter becomes too much to deal with.

1. The Basement

We never let Cassie into the basement when she was alive because of the rat infestation, but once the crowdfunding came together for her funeral costs we were finally able to fix up that chintzy paneling and afford a decent exterminator. Now, I’ve got the recliner and my Playstation down there and, while it isn’t much yet, I’m thinking it could become a certified Man Cave in due time. Dr. Towns says that an important part of grieving is giving yourself space to work through things at an appropriate pace. It’s important not to rush the process, he says, which is why I’m holding off on snagging a pool table until I can find a regulation sized one in red felt. Patience is key, he says.

2. The Garage

1969-Mustang-Mach-1.jpg
Cassie had been scared of the garage ever since that bat got trapped in there a few years back, so I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about her apparition running around in there and reminding me of what my life once was. Dr. Towns mentioned that a lot of men deal with grieving by taking up projects, so I figured now was as good a time as any to work on the old Mustang again. She’s an absolute beauty, a cherry red ’69 with the original drum brakes, a dual exhaust, and a V6 cylinder engine that still purrs like the kitten we promised to get Cassandra for her 9th birthday. I would give anything to have been able to bring that cat home and see the look in Cassie’s eyes, but I guess I’ll just have to settle for being the envy of all my buddies once the Cherry Bomb is back in roadworthy condition.

3. Underneath the Patio

Cassie would never darego under here back when things were good and life mattered. She was pretty sure there were monsters living under the house, and I wasn’t exactly rushing to tell her otherwise. She had such an imagination, my tiny adventurer, and the last thing I wanted was her crawling around down there and getting hurt. Pretty ironic, all things considered. Dr. Towns says it’s important to maintain goals and remember that I still have things in life to work towards. Writing down notes of things I hope to accomplish is a big way to look ahead, he says. I woke up under the patio last week with a sticky note in my shirt pocket that said “Find a cure to cancer. Do whatever it takes.” I have a degree in social work from University of Phoenix Online.

4. The Spare Bedroom

We usually kept this room locked up when Cassie was still with us, and she generally knew better than to come in. Jess keeps all her sewing and knitting stuff in here, and Cassie was just always getting into some kind of trouble whenever she snuck in. Just too many pins and needles for such a mischievous kid, ya know? But there was this one time – God, I wish I’d taken a picture of this – when Cassie snuck in while Jess was taking a shower, and wrapped an entire ball of yarn around herself. An entire ball! She had to be about five, maybe six, and she was so caught up in the yarn that she could barely move! Eventually I find her, and she’s wriggling around on the carpet just covered in yarn, and she looks up me with her little gap tooth smile and goes, “Daddy! Daddy! Look! I’m a Casserpillar!” I mean how clever is that?! She was so smart, my little Casserpillar. I come in here sometimes, and I lay right down on the spot of the floor where I found her wriggling and laughing and smiling. At first, I worried that spending time in here would be intrusive towards Jess’s own grieving, but ironically, it would seem that I spend a lot more time in here than she does now. For the most part Jess just sleeps these days. Dr. Towns says this is a common side-effect of depression, and while I wish I could spend more time with Jess, I also I understand why she would want to spend days at a time in the dark of our bedroom. When you walk into the living room every morning to find the TV turned to Cartoon Network and the ghost of your only daughter practicing ballet, every moment from then on out just kind of feels like a waking nightmare.

5. The Minivan

Since the liminal plane containing my daughter’s soul seems to only really reach the 3900 sq. feet that make up our home, backyard, and driveway, I’ve recently begun parking the minivan in the street. I spent most nights out in the van during that first month without Cassie, though back then I was actually driving around town, sometimes until dawn. At this point, I don’t even bother bringing the keys with me, just a bottle and a book. While it’s true that I’d do just about anything to forget for a minute what has become of my once-charmed existence, there’s a lot of misunderstanding about my time out by the curb. Honestly – and this is something Dr. Towns sort of refuses to acknowledge, which has been a real point of frustration for me – the drinking isn’t meant to numb the pain. There’s no numbing this pain. There’s no muting this roaring deficit in my being. It really just comes down to this: If you’ve ever read Koontz, you know that his masterful storytelling goes hand-in-hand with a little sauce. Them’s just facts. Like I’ve told Dr. Towns over and over, Jack Daniels and Dean Koontz were my go-to duo long before my world came crashing down. I just happen to need them now more than ever.

6. The Attic

None of us ever really went into the attic much when Cassie was alive, what with all the loose insulation and fiberglass up here. That stuff doesn’t really matter so much now. I go up here sometimes to just think, to process. Lately, I’ve actually started bringing my laptop – just to get a little writing done, keep the ol’ ticker in shape. Dr. Towns says it’s healthy to exercise the parts of the brain that we often come to neglect over time. I was about halfway finished with a screenplay based of off Dean Koontz’s 1983 bestseller Phantoms around the time we found out Jess was pregnant. I had been working for Jess’s dad at the time, helping him sell car parts out of the family shop, but every night after my shift, like clockwork, I would just sit down and immediately get so absorbed in that screenplay. Even during the first couple months of the pregnancy, I’d be writing for hours every night – I had such a strong vision for how everything would turn out, and I even had this idea in my head that Ray Liota could play the enigmatic Sherriff Bryce Hammond. Jess would be right there next to me, knitting little caps and booties. It’s amazing how time flies, isn’t it? Ten years seems like a lifetime ago now. Though, I guess in the case of my only daughter Cassandra, it kind of was.
It’s stuffy up here, and I’ve developed some pretty bad skin irritation, but I’d rather scratch myself bloody than watch the ghost of my daughter retrace the steps of a life that was stolen from her. It’s like…it’s like watching some little girl playing the role of my sweet pea. She looks just like her, and sounds just like her. She calls out to me sometimes, and she’s so happy. She’s not in pain, either; it’s as if the last two-and-a-half years never happened. It’s like an alternate universe. Sometimes, I’ll get up in the middle of the night and in my half-sleep, I’ll find her standing in the hallway. I’ll reach down to touch her head, thinking maybe she had a bad dream. But, my hand passes right through her. It’s like losing her all over again, and every time, just like that, I remember that it’s my bad dream. It’s my never-ending bad dream.

So You’ve Acquired An Alien Child…

By Ashley Vernola

An excerpt from “Nonsense’s Guide to the Supernatural

Section 6: Caring For Your New Alien Baby

 

  1. Hold them.

After all, even though it is a part of an alien species, it still is indeed a baby, and babies need love and care and a good amount of TLC. Hold that baby, swaddle it! Not with cotton blankets, cotton will cause your baby to combust and die. Only metallic nylon will do for this alien species! Make sure to remind it that you need it more than it’ll ever need you.

  1. Give it a name!

The best part of acquiring your little bundle of slimy grey mass is that you get to name the little goon! Make sure to keep it something close to its roots, but it can be as modern or classic as you wish it to be! Try Googling “Top 20 Alien Names of the Year”. That’ll be sure to give you some ideas! Be aware that it might take a little while for your little alien to begin responding to this name. They were given names in their native tongue before that and changing their name out of the blue might confuse them. Don’t be afraid if your baby grows distant from you as it acclimates to its new life on this planet.

  1. Make sure it gets its shots, and test for allergies.

Once again, like any baby, alien babies, too, must protect themselves with the wonders of human medicine! Make sure to take your little snook’ums to the doctor often to make sure they are healthy and happy! Make sure your doctor isn’t a spoilsport tattletale who will inform your nation’s government about the cuddly wuddly invasive species you have given purchase on our planet [see section 7, how to silence a liability]. Your special gift from outer space will probably require rarer, and more expensive shots and treatments, as they are not yet adjusted to the illnesses or allergens available on this planet, but that won’t matter, as you’ll do anything for your little bundle of gook!

  1. Put on TV.

Remember, nothing too violent! Aliens are easily impressionable, but boy, do they love TV! While you may think having it watch something about aliens is a great idea, it is not. Please avoid shows about the alien species at all costs. Please. Avoid the History Channel.

  1. Do NOT stick it in the microwave.

Raising a child lacking bodily structures analogous to our own—except a mouth that screams, screams, screams!—CAN be trying. Additionally, some of you in areas with large whale populations may find that your baby takes on the hue and texture of local decadence: whale blubber. However, do NOT put your alien baby in the microwave. DON’T. This will not make this or the pounding in your head OR the redness in your eyes OR the relationship with your earth children (or spouse) better! It will only make EVERYTHING worse. Unlike human children, aliens babies are not suited for microwaves, and you should be warned that their large, bulbous heads will explode when exposed to excessive heat. If we hear of another case of this happening, we will call Alien Protective Services on you, and you will never be able to own another alien child again. You have been warned.

  1. Love it like it were your own blood-child.

Your small bundle of slippery amorphous joy has been separated from its home planet and family and cannot go back. Thus, it is important that you take on this little one like it is your own, or else it will not be able to acclimate to life on Earth as well as it should, and your family might be in for a slew of trouble.

  1. Remember not to tell the NSA, CIA, FBI, or any other government agency.

All these agencies want to do is take your small alien baby away. You wouldn’t want that, would you? Don’t you dare utter a word. (Insta selfies are fine.)

  1. Ignore your wife’s side-eye when you pay more attention to your new alien baby than your own blood-humanoid children.

We know. It’s hard. Your wife will glare at you from across the room as your little one tugs on your pant leg and you shoo him away because you’re dealing with your new, special baby in your arms. She will grow resentful of this, and take your son away, reminding him that he’s “Mommy’s Favorite”. She will tell you to “grow up”, and that you are worthless as a parent, but it’s okay. Little Danny never needed you quite as much as Xeep_3863 needs you. You’re all it has here on Earth. And, when your wife eventually gets tired of you neglecting your own children for this baby you never even asked for, it will be all you have as well. Look out for each other. It’s a scary world out there.

And last but not least:

  1. Have fun!

It’s only one to three in a lifetime that these opportunities present themselves. Being the new parent to one of these incredible, unidentifiable creatures is something many will never experience or even come close to understanding. It will be a learning experience for you, as well, so cherish it.

Now, go on and take care of your newly acquired alien child. You are in for a ride!

A Poem About A Clown

By James Sweeney

An excerpt from “Nonsense 4 Kidz”

 

There are a few phrases
You’ll hear all your life
If you are so inclined
to spread laughter and light

From families of fortune
and families of plight:
Why the hell’s my son crying?”
Get your hands off my wife!

I’m a clown!” you might shout,
It’s my job to have fun!
No need to get hostile,
but I too have a gun.

And on the Clown’s neck
a tattoo, freshly drawn:
The 2nd Amendment
Keeps the Clown Army Strong

With a honker like his,
and those shoes, flat and long?
A half-balding scalp
and a half-scalped schlong?
Why, it’s clearly no wonder
His smile’s painted on

Yet for all the Clown’s trials,
his oppression unseen
The heart of the Clown
is a curious thing

For it aches still for love
and the tenderness earned
from a boy whose just witnessed
his whole family burn

Now the Clown’s got a camera
and he’s sifting through weapons
For a fun little movie he’s planned on directing
Of a man with a gun, who teaches a lesson

Filming’s begun and its time for a close-up
The boy’s found his spotlight while holding back throw-up
Now repeat after me so they never forget it…

I’m Ted Cruz and I approve this message!

Choose Your Own Freaking Adventure: Just 4 Kidz Edition!

By Veronica Toone

An excerpt from “Nonsense 4 Kidz”

 

Well howdy there, boys and girls! It’s time to GO INSIDE OUR NOGGINS and create a wonderful adventure before we’re inevitably thrust into the CRUEL AND UNFORTUNATE SET OF CIRCUMSTANCES AND PAIN we’ll call the rest of our lives!

Are you ready to get started? No? Tough! Life is hard, Timmy, and the sooner you come to realize that, the sooner you’ll appreciate the flickering light of your DYING IMAGINATION! So get ready, kids, and STRAP IN, because this week’s fun-tastic adventure is:

LITTLE TIMMY AND THE MAGICAL EMPTY BAG OF DORITOS™!

 

START RIGHT HERE: Your name is TIMMY JOHNSON. You’re an eight year-old with the intelligence level of the average comic book eight year-old. You live with MOM AND DAD, two confused caricatures of generic middle-class adults with a child smarter than they are combined. You like SpongeBob SquarePants and Minecraft.

It’s a Tuesday afternoon. You’re sitting in a classroom full of your friends and they all love you. You’re wearing your favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shirt, and you’re happy as can be! Your teacher calls on you to answer the question, but oh no: you weren’t paying attention! “Timmy!” she bellows, with the force to bring an elephant to its knees, “don’t make me ask you a third time: what is seven plus two?”

If you decide to answer correctly because you’re a good boy who never touches his no-no square, go to PARAGRAPH 2.

If you can’t remember, go to PARAGRAPH 3.

 

PARAGRAPH 2: “Nine,” you retort, slouching back in your uncomfortable plastic chair. The teacher nods, satisfied (which means she’s happy! Good job! Gold star! Big sticker!), and moves on to harrow some other prey. You pull out your CRAYONS and begin to color a super duper fantastic picture of something totally wicked cool, like you as a superhero or something. “Attention, class,” your ambiguous teacher calls, “there will be a D.A.R.E. meeting today after snack time. Be sure to be ready to ask some questions!” A collective groan rises from your peers, but you’re excited about this news. A D.A.R.E. meeting? They have all kinds of helpful know-how. The bell rings, and the sound of fourteen plastic chairs scooting across linoleum echoes through the room.

Go to SNACK TIME!

 

PARAGRAPH 3: You can’t remember what seven plus two is? It’s in the paragraph right above this. Golly gee, you’ve been chowing down on those “special” gummies, haven’t you, Timmy?

Aww, darn: you’re in TIME OUT! Go back to PARAGRAPH 1.

 

SNACK TIME: You reach into your Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers lunch box and retrieve one WARM TUBE OF GOGURT, one bag of CRUSHED-UP GOLDFISH CRACKERS, and one POUCH OF CAPRI SUN (now equipped!). Nice. After a brief trade of with a sad-looking boy named Matt, you get a pack of DUNKAROOS in place of your warm GoGurt. Sucker. You finish your snacks and throw out your garbage like a good boy who never touches his no-no square. “Line up, boys and girls!” shouts your teacher, spraying spit across the room like a damn sprinkler. You jostle your way to the front of the line, standing like a general leading his foul-smelling, poorly-dressed kid troops into battle, and make your way to the GYM.

To pay attention, go to PARAGRAPH 5.

To zone out during the meeting, go to PARAGRAPH 6.

 

PARAGRAPH 5: After what seems like the rest of the school year’s worth of shushing and whispered scolding from more ambivalent teachers, a MAN walks onto the stage. He’s dressed in a nice suit, and has powdered sugar under his nose. “Hey, kids!” he says, and his voice is very loud. “You wanna know about drugs?” He pauses and wipes his nose. “I was born in the back of a van in 1978. My mother was a taxi driver and my dad was unemployed. I had big dreams of being a musician—” he stops for a second to wipe the sweat off of his hands, “—but that never happened.” He lets out a shrill laugh. “So, I’m here to talk to you today about why drugs are awful and you shouldn’t do them. For example: cocaine! Cocaine is a drug that costs a lot more money than it used to, believe me. But cocaine is a white powder that you snort up your nose.” He wiped his nose again. “And it makes you high. Does anyone know what high is?” A few precocious children that are still trying to feebly grasp at their innocence raise their hands. “Well, getting high is when you feel really really good for a little while!” He glances offstage quickly before turning his attention back to the audience. “But it feels bad after! So you shouldn’t do it, or something.”

Continue to PARAGRAPH 7.

 

PARAGRAPH 6: It’s always stifling in the gym, but you try to make it work. You make eyes at Susie Barnes, sitting about three rows to the right of you. She’s fine as hell and you know it. You turn your head to the front, and don’t pay attention.

What’s wrong with you? Pay attention, you rascal, you! Go back to PARAGRAPH 4!

 

PARAGRAPH 7: You put your hand up and wait patiently for him to call on you. “What?!” he suddenly says in your direction, turning dilated pupils on you. “Mister,” you ask, “do you buy cocaine with money, or can you trade it?” There’s a moment of silence, and then he laughs harshly. “Kid, you can get cocaine by doing lots of stuff. You can buy it with money, or sell other drugs, like a trade, or you can sell yourself!” There is a murmur off-stage, and he suddenly changes the subject. “Does anyone want some stickers?” Everyone around you cheers, and you decide you’ll wait until the end of the meeting for any further questions. He talks some more about a sad man he knew that took lots of cocaine, and now he drives around in a beat up 2007 Ford Fusion – whatever that is – and goes around to schools all the time, and that it’s a horrible job. After that, he finishes by tossing stickers into the crowd to the small, eager hands that awaited below.

To ask the man more questions, go to PARAGRAPH 8.

To grab at the stickers and never ask questions, go HOME.

 

PARAGRAPH 8: You make your way through the crowd before the D.A.R.E. man can leave and tug on his sleeve. He smells like old milk and fire smoke. “What is it, kid?” he asks. “Do you like your job?” “Yeah, it’s great,” he says off-handedly, and reaches into his pocket to pull out a CIGARETTE. Your teacher always says that cigarettes are bad. “Is that a cigarette?” you ask dumbly, and the man turns his attention to you. “You ever try sherm?” You make a note to ask MOM what sherm is, and shake your head no. He waves a funny-smelling stick thing in your face. “This is what grown-ups do when they’re bored. ‘S called a joint. Your Mommy and Daddy probably use this when they’re at home, after they’re done…” he thinks for a moment, then says, “doing their taxes.” “What’s in it? Did you buy it from your friends?” You don’t mean to annoy him; you just have so many questions! Frustrated, the man reaches into his pocket and pulls out a TWENTY DOLLAR BILL. “Here, kid, if I give ya twenty bucks, will you get lost?” You’re fairly sure you could buy France with that kind of money, and he just shoved it into your hand like it was disposable. You take off with the money and jump onto the bus.

Continue HOME.

 

HOME: You jump onto your familiar yellow friend the school bus, amidst the harsh words slung around by careless children and the broken eyes of today’s youth. You take your seat next to your AMBIGUOUS FRIEND, and the bus rumbles away from the school. You stare out the window and talk to no one, thinking about all of the video games you’re gonna buy with your twenty dollars. You hop off the bus and go to YOUR ANTIQUATED HOUSE, and you’re greeted by your confused caricature of a middle-class generic white woman. She is wearing a bathrobe. “Timmy!” she says with surprise, “you’re home early!” “Yeah! There was a D.A.R.E. meeting, and school got out early because the meeting was over, and I got twenty dollars!” you tell her. She nods. “Right, honey, but why don’t you wait outside? Dad and I are doing our taxes—can you play with the dog for another forty-five minutes?” You nod and obediently and go to the backyard. It was a great day.

THE END. Super job, or something!