Picza Cover

The sunlight broke through the early morning clouds, heating the ground and creating an eerie steam. Daphne only partially noticed this. Perhaps as a young girl she would have stopped and admired the beauty.

But for now, she was sitting at the table, 3 bills opened, 2 unopened. With her lunchbox was packed for the day, if she left now she'd be at least 15 minutes early to the bus, so she figured she'd find any extra time to see if they could pay the bills.

Just then the front door opened, and Daphne heard the birds chirping. The smell of the fresh morning air came wafting in ahead of Dillon walked in, who—she knew by now—always smelled of polluted water, sweat, and the ocean bay. He wearily trudged in, dropping his duffel back on the floor. “Hey, Daph,” he mumbled.

“Hey,” Daphne said, comparing 2 bills side-by-side. “How was work?”

“You know, usual. Work.” He went to the fridge and grabbed a beer.

“One of these bills is your health insurance,” she told him as Dillon snapped open a bottle. “What should I tell them?”

As Dillon swaggered into the living room he held up his middle finger.

“And the mortgage?”

Same response—the bird.

She smiled bitterly. It was no use asking about the other 2.

“Any news on the raise?”


She sighed. Dillon turned on the TV and started scrolling through streaming shows. Daphne spent a few more minutes on the bills before tossing them back on the disheveled pile. Then she fetched her purse, lunchbox, and coat, and headed out the door. She kissed Dillon on the check. “Get some rest,” she said.

“Will do.”

She waited at the nearest bus stop. As soon as the bus pulled up to the stop, she boarded, popped in her earbuds, and sat down next to an elderly Hispanic lady whom ignored her. The bus pulled away. Daphne had to squint in the stark sunlight that darted in and out of her eyes in between the cityscape.

She got off on Market and 8th, and began her journey down the park blocks, past the treed area where, during the summer, street performers tossed hoops and played music; and was about to cross the street onto 10th when she noticed something odd in the bushes. She couldn't quite make out what it was.

Normally she'd ignore those mysteries and move on, but the curiosity got the better of her. She stepped back from the crosswalk, and peered further into the bushes.

Peeking out from under the bushes was a set of large eyes. They were looking directly at her.

“Who are you, little guy?” Daphne asked.

Just when she was about to get a good look at the creature, The eyes disappeared and the bushes rattled. Darn it! She had to find out what it was! Daphne looked both ways to see if anyone was looking at her, then adjusted her purse, and parted the branches to see if she could spot the creature.

It was gone.

She straightened up, frowning. She spotted something out of the corner of her eye. She turned and fully saw the creature, timidly looking up at her.

It was about the side of a small cat and walked on four stubby legs; its gray skin was about the same texture as a rhino's or hippos, and it's mouth was slightly beak-shaped. But it's eyes, facing forward, were cartoonishly large—white around the edge of the eyeball, but containing large black pupils..

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