The following short story is taken from a collection of similarly absurd tales of strange people in even stranger situations.
I sneeze again and another bit of my brain shoots out my nose and onto the tile floor. I brush it aside with my shoe and say a silent prayer that nobody around me noticed. I think I got away with it this time.
The doctors told me there’s basically nothing to do about it except try to sneeze as little as possible for the rest of my life, which is harder than it seems. Especially because I’m allergic to pollen, which is almost everywhere, and dust, which is just about everywhere else.
I sneeze again and a bigger piece of pink brain-matter hits the tile floor. This time I think someone noticed. There’s this young mom telling her daughter not to look over at me. She definitely saw. I try to slyly brush it under my chair but I step too hard and it smears on the floor a bit. It makes a truly awful squishing sound as it streaks across the tile. I mouth the word ‘sorry’ to the mom but I don’t think that makes up for it.
One of the washers buzzes off to my left and I get up to change my laundry. It takes me a while to find my clothes. I can’t remember which washer I put them in in the first place. Maybe that was the part of brain I just lost. This happens a lot. I forget small things like this every day. Luckily it usually isn’t anything too important.
I swap the load into a dryer and put a couple of quarters in the machine. I think I set it right but I’m not a hundred-percent sure. Oh well, if the clothes shrink, they shrink.
One, two, three sneezes on the way back from the dryer to my seat. I caught most of the brain in my handkerchief but I think some of it got away from me. A man behind the counter says ‘bless you’ and I say ‘yep!’ back but that doesn’t quite feel like the right thing to say at all.
Back at my seat I pick up my book and start reading to pass the time. It’s a sci-fi about some space explorer named something or other and he has to... dammit! I was really enjoying that book. I guess I could always start it over. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve had to.
I feel another sneeze coming but luckily I’m able to find a lightbulb on the ceiling above me and stare at it before it’s too late. That’s one of the techniques the doctors told me about I think aloud to myself. It only works half the time but that’s a lot better than nothing.
I check my driver’s license to see if it’s my birthday today. It’s not. I do this at least once every day ever since a particularly bad sneeze attack a few months ago, or at least some time ago.
I sneeze into my arm and ruin my shirt. I also can’t remember quite where I bought it from. I take it off and toss it into the dryer with the rest of the clothes and then sneeze a few more times on my way back to my seat. I bend down to collect all the little brain bits from the ground and consider eating them for a second but remember that my doctor told me eating them wouldn’t add them back to my brain so I set them back down and take what I’m pretty sure is my seat.
A man walks up to me and tells me I have to put a shirt on if I’m going to be in here and I insist that I am wearing a shirt, only to be surprised when he walks me over to a mirror and shows me that I am, in fact, not wearing a shirt. I am also quite handsome. I sneeze on the mirror and a particularly large piece of something pink and slimy hits it. The goopy stuff takes forever to slide down and hit the ground.
I buy a shirt with the laundromat’s logo on it from the nice man and put it on and I feel warm right away. I don’t think the shirt has been washed before because it is very dusty and that makes me make a loud noise with my mouth which sends gross pink chunky chunks flying everywhere and now I don’t know my name but I really think I should.
The dryer buzzes and that means my meal is ready. I’m very hungry. I don’t remember the last time I’ve had a bite to eat. Maybe last week?
Last Week! Of course! That must be my name.
I walk over to the dryer and open it to see no food at all, which feels wrong. I grab the clothes out anyway and pull the fuzzy fun-stuff out of the dryer grate and ball it up. I toss it around a few times, like people do, but it makes my nose all ticklish and I have to make a lot of loud nose noises really quickly and see more pinky glop-glop stuff all over the ground.
I think I am being escorted out of the clothes wash-dry place but I’m not sure. Either way, this nice man has a very strong grip. He shoves me out onto the sidewalk and throws my clothes after me. I think those are my clothes at least, but I wish they weren’t. They’re not very pretty.
On the ground around me is a lot of pollen which I know is a bad thing because I remember that at least. I say ‘no thank you’ to the pollen and shake it off of me with one great big shake!
Instead of going away it goes into the air and I get tickle-nose again. I try to look at the sun for some reason but that is about as useless as the wheel. My itchy-nose makes so much gunky on the sidewalk that my head feels very light and I can look behind me very quickly if someone ever tries to sneak up behind me. Which they might do because I am an international spy. Of that much, I am almost certain.
I bend down to tie my shoe and realize that not only am I wearing flip-flops (must be because I am a spy) but also that I am face-to-face with more pollen. Next thing I know I am glooping very loudly and a lot and then I can’t see anything at all. Total darkness. I can still hear though. I can hear better than most men. It’s my special skill.
I hear a person nearby ask me if I’m doing okay. I tell her I’m a spy and that I am allergic to pollen and something else. I shouldn’t have told her about the spy thing, I don’t think.
She says she should get me out of the road, but I don’t know what that is. It may be code for something. I make gwampy four times in a row really quickly.
She tells me ‘gesundheit’ (I imagine that’s how it’s spelled) which makes me feel sad for this poor woman and her clearly made up words. I tell her that can’t be a real word and that it’s okay if she isn’t all together ‘up there’. I point to her head. I know exactly where it is because of my enhanced hearing.
I goop again and then I don’t remember what happens next.