I challenged my friends to “send me a one word or first line prompt and I will write a story about it.” One of my friends, Katy, suggested “Dybbuk”. When researching what a dybbuk was, I came upon a few different definitions. I finally settled on “A malevolent possessing spirit believed to be the dislocated soul of a dead person who has been denied entry to heaven for serious transgressions (such as suicide). According to belief a soul that has been unable to fulfill its function during its lifetime is given another opportunity to do so in dybbuk form. They are, supposedly, able to leave the host body once the dybbuk has accomplished its goal.” So here you go, Katy! I hope you enjoy.
Sara watched the sun rise over the rooftops of the sleeping city. It morphed the sky into fabulously warm hues of red and orange. She laid her head back, feeling the rough texture of the shingles against her bare shoulders. The sky above her head was spotted with soft, bleached cotton swabs. As she lay prostrate, her eyes finally felt the haze of sleep overwhelming them. She slept soundly on the rooftop of her parents’ Palms Springs estate. A cool sea breeze ruffled her hair and brought in a new day and a new beginning.
It must have been at least four hours later when Otho awoke. He carefully sat up and took a gander at the view. It was gorgeous. Copper rooftops and palm trees until the beach and beyond that was the vast ocean. He steadied his step, trying to get used to his new dainty legs.
This was an interesting predicament. When he was told that he would be moving on to a different body, he assumed that it would be another male. He looked down to examine his new home he was surprised to find a bikini top filled to the brim and a pair of denim, cut off shorts. He snickered. Thunder was heard in the distance.
He was told that in order to gain acceptance into heaven, he’d have to find a way to redeem himself. With another body as a vessel, this was his chance. He’d already been transplanted into another body previously but was unable to figure out what the hell that guy needed. The thunder rolled.
“Yeah, yeah,” he thought to himself. He carefully made his way off of the roof and slid into the first open window. Millions of thoughts roamed around in his head like a herd of mice milling around inside the walls of an old rundown house. Was there going to be a time limit this time? What if he can’t redeem himself? Her thoughts were in there too. And the main thing on her mind was that, judging by the clock, he was going to be late for school.
Otho planted his bare feet onto the hardwood floors. The room was spacious and sufficiently filled with teenage memorabilia. He glanced at himself in the vanity mirror. He smiled at his blond hair, his brown eyes, and his pouty lips. “Yes. Yes, this will do just fine,” he murmured. More thunder. “Well what is it that you want me to do?” he growled. His voice caught him off guard. He looked around. Notes from friends. Soft, fuzzy pillows. Pictures of her with her friends. He moved the mouse to her desktop, on the heart shaped mouse pad. Her computer screen blinked to life. On the background was the name “Sara” with a picture of her in a bikini, hugging an attractive young man.
“Sara?” a woman’s voice called from downstairs.
“Um, yeah?” Otho replied.
“Sara, if you don’t hurry, you’re going to be late for class,” the voice replied.
He quickly threw on the first shirt that he could grab out of her closet and a pair of flip flops before running out the bedroom.
“And I even made you pancakes,” her mother whined. She stood in the kitchen, her hair slightly disheveled, wearing a gingham apron and a faint smile. “Good morning, dear,” she said. She motioned toward a plate on the bar.
Otho sat down in front of the plate. “Morning,” he mumbled, his mouth already filled with maple syrup covered pancake.
Her mother watched him intently and smiled. “You’re never this hungry in the morning.” Her smile turned into a frown. “Have you been skipping dinner again? Honey, you know that you don’t need to lose weight, right?” She was interrupted by a loud, impatient honk coming from outside.
Otho continued to eat his breakfast. It had been a while since he had a good home cooked meal. Pancakes, sausage, and eggs. He might not ever want to leave this body. Sara’s mother stared at him.
“What?” he asked.
“That’s probably Mandy. You should get going,” she said slowly, staring at her daughter. “Are you okay?”
“Ugh, yeah,” he muttered, shoveling the rest of his breakfast in his mouth. He looked up at her mom. Getting up from the barstool, he quickly gave her a kiss on the cheek. “Sorry, mom,” he said, spraying food from his mouth. But all she heard was, “Mmmmm mmm.” He looked around and headed toward front door, which was ridiculously tall with glass windows on either side. Each of which was equally as tall. He looked up at the tall ceilings and elaborate decorations. “Hmm,” he thought.
Waiting in the driveway was a yellow jeep with a petite brunette waiting in the driver’s seat.
“Come on,” she pleaded. “You’re going to make us late for class.”
Otho jumped into the passenger’s seat. “Hey,” he smiled.
Mandy gave her a cockeyed grin and laughed. “So…” she said, pulling out of their driveway. “You gonna tell me what happened last night?”
Otho thought for a moment. “Sara, I know you’re in here,” he thought. “What happened last night?”
“I mean, I totally understand if you don’t want to tell me but, I am your best friend and you’re supposed to tell your best friend everything and-”
“No,” Sara suddenly spouted. Otho wasn’t sure if he was more shocked than Mandy was.
Mandy looked over at her. “I didn’t mean…I mean…”
The rest of the car ride was spent in silence. Otho tried desperately to look through Sara’s thoughts but he couldn’t find anything indicating that last night was spend anywhere other than crying on the rooftop.
At her locker, Otho found a note taped to the door.
“You looked lovely last night,” she read.
Mandy wrapped her arms around her. “Oh, Sara.” She tried to console her. “Let’s go tell someone.”
“No,” Sara shouted.
Mandy tried to calm her down. “I’m sorry. I know that you said that we can’t. It’s just…this can’t keep happening. It’s just ridiculous and insane.”
She walked Otho to the girls bathroom so that she could splash some water on her face.
“I’m sorry,” Mandy said again. “I won’t bring it up anymore.”
Sara gave her a big hug. “No, I’m sorry.”
And that was that. They went to class and tried to act normal. Sara’s mind kept wandering to other things. Images of her mom and her family back when she was younger.
“Ms. Garder,” a stern voice called.
Sara snapped to. “Huh? Oh, I’m sorry, sir,” Sara apologized. “Can you repeat the question again? I-”
“It’s not a question, Ms. Garder. You don’t have a choice. The principal would like to have a word with you.”
Sara couldn’t move. In fact, it took all of Otho’s will power to finally get her out of the chair. He squeaked through the classroom until he got to the empty hallway. Mandy peered at her through the window of the door. She mouthed something but Otho couldn’t figure out what it was. He shuffled down the hallway to the principal’s office. He could feel his heart sink as he turned the doorknob. “What could you have done to be so nervous?” he wondered.
“Why, hello Ms. Garder,” the secretary said as he walked through the door. She was a stout woman with a thick southern accent. “In for more career counseling, hmm?” The woman’s smile was warm and friendly.
Otho could tell that Sara wanted to tell her something but he couldn’t force anything out of her mouth except a, “Mm hmm…”
“Well, Mr. Dyviak is in his office. Go on in. He’s expectin’ you,” she motioned towards the door and gave her another warm grin.
Otho stepped into Mr. Dyviak’s office. It was a small room with a bookshelf and a small loveseat next to the door. His office chair faced the window behind the massive desk that nearly took up half the space left in the room.
“Shut the door,” Mr. Dyviak said.
Otho did as he was asked. Sweat dripped from his temples. “What’s the matter, Sara?” Otho wondered. “The principal? What’s he doing to you?”
“It’s come to my attention that you’ve been somewhat unhappy with our agreement,” he said. His back was still toward Otho.
“Umm…” was all that Otho could muster.
Mr. Dyviak spun around in his chair, revealing his face and well tailored suit. He was a handsome man in his late thirties, maybe early forties with dark, inviting eyes and shaggy brown hair. He didn’t seem so scary.
“Do we need to go over the details again?” he asked. He stood up and walked up to her. He was taller than Otho expected. He placed his hand on Otho’s shoulder. “Meet me for dinner tonight at the Roxberry. I have a dress waiting for you at Macy’s. Just go there and make sure it’s the right size. Tell the associate that it’s being held for you by me,” he said. He ran his fingers across her shoulders. “You’re going to look stunning in it.” He walked towards the door and grabbed the handle. “I’m sorry that our date got interrupted last night.” He turned the knob but didn’t open the door just yet. “Wives,” he said under his breath. “Always nosey.” He opened the door and held it for her. Otho walked out with the taste of vomit in his mouth.
That night, he slipped on the tight fitting, sleeveless black dress with the plunging neckline and matched it with black nylons and the tallest heals that he could muster without falling down the stairs. He stuffed a black clutch purse full of the “essentials” and clop-clopped down the hallway towards the front door, trying his best not to roll his ankle.
Mr. Dyviak picked him up at Sara’s house. He watched Otho slide into the passenger’s seat of his sports car and licked his lips. Otho’s stomach turned.
“I thought we were going to go to the Roxberry?” Otho said as they drove further and further away from town.
“I decided that maybe we should have dessert before dinner,” Mr. Dyviak explained, pulling over into a secluded parking lot. Otho looked around at the deserted lot and finally stopped at Dyviak, who didn’t have such inviting eyes any longer.
“Mr. Dyviak,” Otho started.
“Yeah?” Dyviak said, unbuckling his seat belt. “I can’t really hear you, darling. Why don’t you come over here.”
Otho’s hand grabbed for the door handle.
“Our agreement!” Dyviak screamed after him as Otho jumped out of the car and ran through the lot. “You do as I say or you’re never going to see your mother again!”
Otho stopped and turned around.
“I can get her locked up for a very long time, Sara. You just remember that.”
Otho walked up to the car. Dyviak walked around to meet her at the passenger’s side door and pushed her up against the hood of the car. “Don’t you ever forget that,” Dyviak whispered into Otho’s ear. He grabbed a handful of Sara’s hair and pulled. His other hand wandered elsewhere. Otho immediately reached for the knife that he kept on a garter and jammed it as hard as he could into Dyviak’s abdomen. He could feel the warmth of his blood as it dripped all over his hands. Dyviak coughed and back pedaled, finally falling onto his knees. He looked up into Otho’s eyes but he looked different.
“You can’t take a life,” Dyviak’s voice boomed.
“B-b-boss?” Otho asked.
“You can’t take a life, Otho. That’s against the rules.” Dyviak looked up at him, his face no longer anguished because of the pain and yet he continued to bleed all over the pavement. “How is killing him fixing the problem.”
“She doesn’t deserve to be assaulted like that,” Otho explained.
“Yeah, but now she’s going to jail and without his help, her mom will end up in jail as well.” Dyviak looked down at himself. “He may be a jerk but death isn’t the answer. You of all people should know that,” he explained to Otho.
Otho threw his hands in the air. “Well, what happens now?” he screamed.
“Oh you know what happens now,” Dyviak laughed and snapped his fingers.
It was cold when Otho woke up. He lifted his head up and looked around. He was lying prostrate on the snow covered ground. Rolling over made his head ache. Lying still made his head ache. Thinking made his head ache. He groaned and stood up. The fur coat that he wore shielded him from the bitter cold bite of the wind that whipped his hair around. He reached down to clench his coat tighter to his body. That’s when he realized that a fur coat was his fur coat.
“A polar bear? Really?!” he roared into the sky. Thunder boomed loudly laughing at him. He had every intention of cursing the sky but he was shushed by a low growling that seemed to surround him. He looked around, trying to distinguish shapes in the quickly forming blizzard. One by one they began to appear. Wolves in the night, quite literally.
It was an amazing sight to see, a polar bear round house kicking a wolf in the face. The Inuit hunters that gathered around thought it was interesting as well, calling the rest of their dogs back.
“Well, if I knew this is what it was going to take for you to save a life and redeem yourself, I would have transported you into a bear sooner,” one of the wolves noted as he slinked away toward the hunters.
Otho let out a loud sigh as he sat back down in the snow for the last time.