Each section is based on the Oxford English Dictionary’s word of the day from January, 2022.
I. caravette, n.
He packed his bags and threw them back behind the driver’s seat. His destination was not known, but still he headed east. The engine revved, the shifter clicked, and gravel stirred below. His horn honked twice, he waved his arm, and turned onto the road.
II. limbo, v.
The highway’s flat and straight until the city’s skyline spouts and overpasses form above his head so full of doubt. He ducked his head — no logic there — when under every one. And all the morning, he did chase his guiding light: the sun.
III. hagiologist, n.
He prayed to Bona, Pisa’s saint, as dusk became the night. She watches over travelers, when the sun is not so bright. His eyes were heavy, night was young; at some point he must stop. He hoped that Bona'd keep him safe; his head his arm did prop.
IV. chutzpasik, adj.
He drove nonstop throughout the night to see the coast at dawn. Not tired, he said, then shook his head when lines began to yawn. His car’s warm hood, while parked askew, sent steam into the sky. The sun did peek from o’er the sea; its beauty made him cry.
V. hagfish, n.
When hunger fin'lly sank its teeth into his quiv’ring ribs, he walked across the parking lot, and tore off trash can lids. He dug around to find some food inside curled fast food bags. A bite or two to get him through that morning’s final drag.
VI. belongingness, n.
He ate, returned to beach’s edge, and inhaled salty air. He combed his matted hair by wind and at horizon stared. He breathed in tandem with the sea — the tidal ebb and flow. He wanted this to last fore’er, but knew he had to go.
VII. driving box, n.
The driver’s seat was worn and cold and sighed when sat upon. He had to find a job so that he’d have new clothes to don. His wrinkled shirt from Applebee’s was fading, tearing more. It’d lasted sev’ral summers, but no longer could be worn.
VIII. up a daisy, int.
He drove until a hiring sign did fin’lly ‘pear downtown, then par’lleled parked across the street, the visor’s mirror down. A deep breath there, then slapped his face and stared into his eyes. “You got this, Adam,” said he then, and donned a clip-on tie.
IX. ghostbuster, n.
“For months now, we have heard these wails from down below the shop. We’re ‘fraid a spirit’ll one day rise, the floor our blood will mop. “Now, I’ve been told a spell exists, or something science-y, to rid us of this blight. Can you? We’d pay you handsomely.”
X. inadvisably, adv.
No hesitation in his voice, he took the job and said, “I’ve never failed to catch a ghost or zombie or undead.” The shopkeep pointed to the door that to the basement lead. His confidence successf’lly hid a plan to fake instead.
XI. gee-whizzery, n.
Atop the stairs, she left him there to go down on his own. Her glasses fogged with nervous sweat, her legs were heavy stone. He closed the door to hide his work and falsify results. So dark and cold, a thick’ning fog reveals something occult.
XII. zom-com, n.
A paw broke through the concrete floor with saggy, patchy flesh. Long nose and tail, now on all fours, teeth flared to eat afresh. Then Adam reached behind his back to find something to throw. He didn’t know ’til out his hand, it was a squeaky bone.
XIII. scrimmaging, adj.
Like lightning, pounced the dog on bone, whose squeaks to heaven cried. Its rubber shards like mist in fog; its tone grew low and died. The dog’s eye sockets, empty voids, to Adam turned at once. T’ward him a blur of fur did dash like he’s the prey it hunts.
XIV. bridle-wise, adj.
In grade school, Adam wrangled cows at Uncle Nathan’s ranch. When bored of ropes and tying knots, he’d settle calves by hand. His callused palms had softened since, but muscle mem’ry stayed. He took a stance to catch the dog in order to get paid.
XV. ghoulishness, n.
He caught the dog with thund’rous boom, the hind legs in his hands. The sound of crackling tendons popped like snapping rubber bands. Adrenaline had blinded him, so fearing for his life. Removed both legs, then broke each bone and grabbed his pocketknife.
XVI. summum malum, n.
To throat he took his knife to slice to separate the brain from body; with no signal then on concrete floor it lain. From out the neck, a thicker fog as black as void did rise. It filled the walls, and ‘cross the room, as red as blood, were eyes.
XVII. sitooterie, n.
Engulfed in black, no gravity nor distance clear, alert he was to all. A canvas rip below him revealed dirt. He staggered back onto his feet. A willow tree gave shade to chairs, a man in tailored suit with red eyes said his name.
XVIII. cardioid, n. and adj.
“Now Adam, why would you do that? My heart, you drive a stake.” His voice consumed all other sound, left silence in his wake. “You’ve killed my dog, I can’t forgive this slight upon my house.” He raised his palm, a flash of light, in flames, the willow doused.
XIX. garden bean, n.
While burning branches fell around his twitchy, icy hands, he balled his fists, assumed the stance that he, for ages, planned. He knew the man with eyes of blood would find him once again. His constant moving to escape from every demon sent.
XX. fantysheeny, adj.
His pocketknife, passed down to him on father’s bed of death, vibrated harsh — a phantom pain, perhaps his final breath. Unsheathed then clicked the blade in place, glowed yellow, orange by flame. “I’ll exorcise you with this knife that bares my father’s name.”
XXI. baje, adj. and n.
He lunged with blade in hand and dodged a fist engulfed in fire. He stabbed with a calypso beat against the well-dressed pyre. So many holes, his knife did leave, in that maroon suit coat. No blood did pour around its waist, no fibers drenched or soaked.
XXII. witching, n.
Despair set in; defeat was near — he’d die without a sound. Blue waves of light flowed ‘crossed his knife; he spotted dewy ground. He plunged the blade into the spot, then twisted it in place. His arm aimed toward the eyes of blood set in his father’s face.
XXIII. spirit-stirring, adj.
He felt a stream of water flow from blade through arm to chest. A geyser ‘rupted out his palm at he so finely dressed. He heard a scream, ethereal, while launching his attack. His father’s howling scream was there to take his body back.
XXIV. meet-cute, n.
The flames extinguished, eyes of blood evaporated then in mist unholy darkened sky. His father back again. The sky, grown black, engulfed the tree and everything around. He woke up ‘gainst the shopkeep’s chair, the basement door unbound.
XXV. ram-stam, adj., adv., and n.
He wiped his hair, and dust and ash cascaded to the floor. “Your problem’s gone, I guarantee. No ghosts will haunt your store. “About your door, I’m sorry that I broke it off its hinge, but can your help me to my feet? my lower back’s a twinge.”
XXVI. jai, int.
“Oh, thank you, thank you, so, so much! The door is no big deal, ‘cause you have saved us all. Can I repay you with a meal?” She blushed, and o’er her ear she brushed her soft magenta hair. She did not meet his eyes, because the floor is where she stared.
XXVII. toydom, n.
His heart still fast, like jumbled words, the pictures in his head. His vocal cords did vibrate, but he knew not what he said. She helped him off the floor and walked across the shop. Sunset. His body moved all on its own — strung like a marionette.
XXVIII. swag, n.
A wave had crashed along the shore as they had sauntered by. His lungs were full of salty air; he felt he’d never die. His thoughts and limbs back in control; his body fully his. He fin’lly asked her ‘bout herself; she said she goes by Liz.
XXIX. banteringly, adv.
The restaurant Liz chose was lit by candlelight’s dim glow. The sun, which set o’er harbor west, was split by masts of boats. They joked about the days they had way after food was done. The conversation was so nice, he felt no want to run.
XXX. drivel, n.
The truest form of ease, of home, is when you talk about whatever happens to come up, as free as geysers’s spouts. So, Liz and Adam talked all night until they kicked them out. But then, they just walked ‘round the pier — a moonlit walkabout.
XXXI. haggard, n.
Throughout the night, unceasingly, his thoughts returned to home: an aging farm, his father back to tend it on his own. He built a shell, their future pruned, he tried to not look sad. “As much as I would like to stay, I need to help my dad."