RORSCHACH’S CEILING • by Samantha Bryant

“There’s a face in it.”

“A face? I don’t see it.”

She pointed at the shape on the ceiling above their bed, twisting her wrists and fingers like a belly dancer as she gestured to the parts. “See? Look. It’s like a dog or a bear or something. The little white patches are the eyes and the roundish part is a mouth or muzzle. Those sticky-outy parts are ears.”

“If you say so. All I see is water damage.”

Megan rolled over and kissed him on the corner of his mouth, keeping her lips closed against morning breath. “That’s the trouble with you. No imagination.”

David laughed, sitting up and throwing the covers off the both of them. “You found me imaginative enough last night.”

“Last night was wonderful,” she agreed, pulling one of the pillows over her chest. “But it wasn’t about imagination.”

David picked up his phone from the bedside table and checked the time. As much as he would have liked to prove his ability to be imaginative in the sack, he had to get cleaned up. He had to be at work in thirty minutes. They couldn’t afford to endanger his job.

Megan lay back down and stared at the face in the ceiling while she listened to the sounds of David bumping around in the shower. It was a tight stall and she laughed to herself each time she heard him bang his elbow against the door or knock something off the little shelf. The face in the brown blot on the ceiling was laughing, too, but she couldn’t tell if it was laughing with her, or laughing at her.

It was clear she wasn’t going to be able to fall back asleep, so she got out of bed, pulled on a long tee-shirt and went to the kitchen to start the coffee pot. She stood at the sink, listening to the comforting steam and drip noises the device made, waiting for the scent to fill the small room. The sink basin had a brownish stain around the drain. It looked like a cat to her, one with an open toothy mouth. Yet another home project to handle someday, when they had the money.

The shower stopped running and Megan poured coffee into a travel mug and added milk, after sniffing it first to make sure it hadn’t turned. She was screwing on the lid when David came around the corner tucking his shirt into his pants. He smiled when he saw her and her heart made a little flip in her chest. She wondered how many more years it was going to take to get used to the way his smile made her feel. Obviously three were not yet enough.

He took the coffee mug from her and hugged her, his day’s-growth beard tickling her neck. One last squeeze and then he was gone, his truck bouncing down the street and out into the world. And she was alone.

Megan turned around in a circle, trying to decide which way to go. It was strange, having these long days to herself now that she’d lost her job. It was the first time since childhood that she hadn’t had a structure to her day imposed from the outside. She felt unformed, like a chick still inside the egg. Blank.

She felt she should use the time to do something important, something productive, but everything she could think of to do required money and it wasn’t fair to spend money on nonessentials if she wasn’t earning any. She padded to the door and picked up the newspaper from the stoop, shaking out the plastic wrapping to leave the early morning rain outside where it belonged.

When she turned to go back in, the morning sun spread her shadow long across the hallway, filling all the space to the back door. It looked like a giant, an amazon, a force to be reckoned with. This was not the shadow of a weakling parasite, no matter what her inner voices tried to tell her.

She crinkled the newspaper in her fingers, thinking about the want ads inside, so well named. She wanted so much and too many mornings had been already been spent in mourning for the job she’d thought would be her career.

With a new sense of urgency, she went to get dressed. This would be a day that required pants.

Samantha Bryant teaches Spanish to middle schoolers. Clearly, she’s tougher than she looks. She writes The Menopausal Superhero series of novels, and other feminist leaning fiction. When she’s not writing or teaching, Samantha enjoys family time, watching old movies, baking, reading, gaming, walking in the woods with her rescue dog, and going places. Her favorite gift is tickets (to just about anything). You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @samanthabwriter or at

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