This is the story of Number Thirteen, a lonely young soul whose skin was as white as snow because even Sun would shun her. Of course, Moon deigned to suffer her presence but only because he’d cover his face with clouds so that he wouldn’t have to look at her. Number Thirteen felt distinctly unlovely indeed.
You may be wondering if Number Thirteen had tried to turn things around at any point. Well, as a matter of fact, yes! She once pretended to be Number Thirty-one but, predictably, nothing good came of this. The real Number Thirty-one happened to find out what Number Thirteen was doing, and posted a scathing expose of her fraudulent behaviour on Facebook. If Number Thirteen wasn’t a social pariah before, she certainly was now.
Still, it seems that she didn’t let this stop her. She also tried to split in two once, to self-identify as Number One and Number Three. But this turned out even worse! Do you think it would be easy to operate with two parts if one of them looks like a pointy stick and the other has rather puffy flanks? Whether anorexic or grossly overweight, neither was good for her health.
So, instead of changing herself, Number Thirteen tried to date other much cooler souls in the hopes that their innate coolness would rub off on her. She dated a Number Six Six Six who was a little too bestial for her liking, and had an obsession with five-pointed polygons and red food colouring. Then there was a Number Sixty-nine who gave her genital herpes and mouth cramps. And after that came a soul who was to be the worst of them all. He called himself Number Seven Seven Seven, and would often coerce her into wearing a bad ginger wig while whispering quotes from the Gospel of QAnon whenever they made out.
You would think after these dating disasters that Number Thirteen would have given up. But no, not at all! Even with the terrible luck she’d always had of just trying to fit in, she was a cheerful, optimistic soul. Social shunning, superstition and all that other numerology bullshit be damned! She threw herself into the practice of yoga and qigong instead, often pouring cold water over herself before and after, even visiting Tuvan throat singing classes on a weekly basis. She piled her plate so full with extracurricular activities that she didn’t have time to sit around lamenting her lot in life. In short, Number Thirteen lived her life so thoroughly that she eventually grew to feel less empty and lonesome.
One day, Number Thirteen was sitting on the porch with her cat. Of course, the cat was a black one—could you honestly imagine her petting a white cat? Said cat was purring in her lap, soaking up the attention like a thirsty perennial in a tropical downpour. As such, it was the best Friday that either of them had had in a very long time. They just enjoyed each other’s company without a care in the world.
A fat snot-nosed kid was passing by on the street when he suddenly looked at Number Thirteen and her cat, and began to scream blue murder. There was an equally scared woman beside him—presumably his mother—and he pulled on her skirt as he poked a dirty finger toward the porch. It was more than Number Thirteen could bear. With quiet resolve, she placed the cat at her feet, stood up, then slowly approached them.
“You’re cruising for a bruising, kid,” she snarled, towering over him.
“Behind you, lady!” he shrieked, jabbing his finger more animatedly. “Over there!”
Number Thirteen spun on her heel, and to her great surprise was a human-sized Donut just standing there. Donut was flanked by eight… no, nine, ten… twelve, maybe thirteen human-sized Scones. Yes. Thirteen.
“I am the Hole at the Centre of the Universe!” declared Donut in an authoritative James Earl Jones voice. “The Great Nothing! And yet would I gather all unto me. Yet would I grant succour from the existential storm that is being alive.” Donut waved a hand at the human-sized Scones. “And these be my disciples, the Baker’s Dozen.”
The Baker’s Dozen all waved weakly. They clearly did not want to be there, and even seemed a little embarrassed by Donut’s self-aggrandising outburst.
“I see that you are silenced by awe.” Donut pointed to itself. “To be awed is human. To awe is divine. Therefore, you are human and I am divine.” Donut nodded in smug satisfaction. The Baker’s Dozen cringed inwardly just that little bit more. “You may taste of me and see that I am good!”
Number Thirteen gave a nonchalant shrug. “As you wish.” Then she looked over her shoulder at the kid and his mother. “Would you like some donut and scones over a cup of tea?” They both nodded dumbly. They didn’t really know how else to react—at the very least not wishing to be rude. The cat arched its spine, then stretched into a satisfying, cavernous yawn.
It was good by the way. Morning tea on the porch. Such a divine taste!
by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
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