Read an excerpt from A SEMI-DEFINITIVE LIST OF WORST NIGHTMARES!
A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland follows the story of Esther Solar, a young woman who believes she and her family are cursed, and her attempts to try and work through her many phobias with the help of an old classmate and petty thief, Jonah Smallwood.
To find out how Jonah intends for Esther to get over her forty-ninth fear, read the excerpt below.
The forty-ninth fear on Esther Solar’s semi-definitive list of worst nightmares was moths, thanks to the repeated watching of The Mothman Prophecies and The Silence of the Lambs, and one particularly traumatic run-in with a common house moth when she was in middle school. (The insect flew into her mouth.)
Esther sat on her front porch in the rain, elbows resting on her knees, dressed as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Her semi-definitive list of worst nightmares was folded open next to her. 49. Moths and/also Mothmen was circled.
Jonah pulled up on his moped and ran through the rain with his hands over his head. Esther was relieved to see that he had not, in fact, dressed as the Mothman, which was much appreciated.
“Damn, Jackie O,” he said when he saw her. “Not enough people can pull off white gloves these days.” Then he sat next to her, not so close that he was touching her, but close enough that she could feel the warmth radiating off him as his skin dried his damp clothes. He smelled intensely of himself and was, like her, dressed for another decade, with orange corduroy pants and a pale blue silk shirt with ruffles, his hair a thicket atop his head.
“Pretty sure I told you I was reupholstering a couch today,” she said, tapping her phone. Esther had sent the message when she woke up that morning in a panic that she would have to see him again. It seemed worth a shot. After he hadn’t replied, she’d resigned herself to the fact that Jonah Smallwood was a parasite who could not easily be shaken off, and had come to sit on the porch to wait for him in an ever-increasing state of dismay.
“Which is why I brought this,” he said, unzipping his backpack and spinning a staple gun around his fingers.
“Are you ever going to let me skip a fear?”
“What excuse can I try next week?”
“You have to graffiti public property.”
“That’s not fair. You know I won’t do that.”
Jonah grinned. “Yeah, that’s the point.”
Cut to: A shot of Jonah and Esther from behind, now inside her house, kneeling in front of a ratty sofa. He turned to her, in profile, and said, “Did you really go out and buy a couch to reupholster just so you wouldn’t have to face your fear of moths?”
Esther turned to him. Their faces were very close together. “I found it on the street and dragged it two blocks to my house, but yes.”
“That’s nasty. This couch is definitely some kind of crime scene.”
“Which is why we have to reupholster it,” she said, holding up the empty staple gun and clicking it twice.
Three and a half hours later, Jonah, Eugene, and Esther were sitting on the reupholstered couch. It was hideous, a lumpy, yellow, floral monstrosity. They were not very good upholsterers. Or perhaps they were excellent upholsterers, but the couch was simply beyond redemption.
Either way, the situation wasn’t good, couch-wise. Fleayoncé didn’t seem to mind too much, though. She sat on Jonah’s shoulder, purring like an idling lawnmower while he played absentmindedly with her ears. A long tentacle of drool hung from one side of her mouth.
They were watching The Mothman Prophecies and passing a bowl of popcorn among them.
“Where did this hideous couch come from?” Eugene asked between mouthfuls of popcorn. Esther and Jonah both shrugged without looking away from the screen. It was up to the part where that one dude, Gordon, gets a prophecy from his sink that ninety-nine will die. Jonah paused the movie.
“You want me to believe you’re scared of some talking sink?” he said.
“That sink, with the help of moths, predicted the murder of ninety-nine people,” Esther said.
“Psychic sinks are not to be trifled with,” Eugene added.
“Punk ass sink needs to sit down and reevaluate its life choices. C’mon. Enough procrastinating. Let’s go find some moths.”
“Are you sure you don’t want to watch The Silence of the Lambs first?” Esther asked hopefully.
“Fine. But if my sink starts making prophecies, you’ll be the first to hear about it.”
“Eugene, man, do you wanna come with?” Jonah said.
“Where are you going?”
Jonah whispered something in his ear. Eugene shivered. “God. No.”
That’s how she knew it was going to be bad.
To continue reading the excerpt, click here.
A Semi-Definitive List Of Worst Nightmares will be released September 5th.