Perspect!ve Pie of the Skye by Lyndsey Reese
Editorial intern Mariel Murray on today’s bonus story: What I like most about Perspect!ve Pie of the Skye is the effortless sway between the worlds of dark alleys, penthouse vistas, and cramped elevators. Reese cleverly scatters hints, weaves details together as the story progresses, and makes for a jarring end that sent me back to the beginning the moment I finished, combing every line for answers.
Perspect!ve Pie of the Skye
I can’t believe I’m going to tell you this, Bobby says. But I know you’re a keen business bitch. Ha ha. Your words! You’re so goddamn funny, Cryndsey. Ok. This place is the ultimate luxury diner at the top of a golden high-rise. We’re talking views you only see in the best science fiction novellas. We’re talking chrome accents, we’re talking decadence like the number one top leaked celebrity home video.
Listen, there’s gonna be a door at street-level in a back alley. Somewhere in Soho. I can’t say where. Ok? Quit asking. Ha ha. You. So you walk up, press buttons, beep bop bop, right into a keypad. Very mystifying. You’ll wait a little. You’re bad at that. But anticipation is the thing. Maybe you’ll be smoking your very last cigarette, or sending a text to your girlfriend who’s been distant lately. Maybe you’re thinking about how your dad coughs so much in the night and cries all day, or you might be reminding yourself that depression is a disease in your brain and not a moral failing, or maybe you’re just really missing your dog who lives with your mom in Oklahoma.
But then you’ll start to think about the mystery before you.
We only want mystery lovers. People who’ve got heart-thumpers like big questions, who really consider and lean into the unknowability of the universe. And people who love pie. Yeah, they really gotta love pie.
When the door opens, whoa. It’s an elevator. You step in. Joop joop, up you go. Just like the rabbit hole but in reverse. Around floor two you get subtle atmospheric music, so down low you almost think, am I crazy? Am I hearing this right? Did a female vocalist just whisper in my ear? Am I alone? Is anyone ever truly alone? Don’t the ghosts of our former selves follow us everywhere we go? We’re not trying to creep you out or anything, just get you ready. Get you wondering. Maybe you won’t even know if you’re going up or down yet. Billy and I are working out the elevator concept.
But ok! Finally you reach the top. You might be a little freaked out if Billy gets his way, but if you are, no big deal. The doors open and you step into the dining room. Your ghosts will whine a bit when you leave them in the elevator. Especially yours. They’ve got you on a short leash. But you have to leave them. We have a strict policy regarding non-alcoholic spirits because we give you the height to be your best self. We really do. But you won’t even notice the ghosts. Because this dining room is silver everywhere. Even if it’s nighttime, it’s all glitter, gleam. My old GM knows this guy who’s in paint. It’ll be custom. And above you, WOW. It’s a glass dome and you can see everything! The entire sky! I told you it was luxury. Ha. I’ve been thinking about calling it Perspect!ve Pie of the Skye. You like it? Thank you.
Next Crynds, you’ll sit down at the bar, open a flashy menu, and holy mother of god, there’s every kind of pie imaginable. Banana Cream, Blackberry Rhubarb, Mince, Strawberry Caramel Nutmeg with Crumbles, Walnut Explosion, Unusual Apple with Cranberries & Jalapeños, You Name It. The ‘You Name It’ will be the most exciting. Whatever you want, bam, in a pie. We care about fostering creativity. Lemme make a note to put that in the mission statement. Ok.
So you’ll get your pie. Wow, that’s some pie, you’ll think. But this place is more. Did I tell you that? It’s pie but it’s more. You’ll forget who you are up here, truly. But not in the bad way. In the beautiful way. Your memory will gently be caressed clean by the height and the hypnotic comforting shimmer. Hmm, hmm. Like that. That’s what shimmer sounds like. Sweet, succulent white noise. Feel it?
You’ll see the East River over to your right and the Hudson to your left. I’ve kinda been skipping this part because I can’t do it justice, but the view. Crynds. The view. It’s like you’re the diamond on top of a rich person’s sundae. The buildings roll into the distance like choppy uneven waves; the streets are the ocean floor and you’re sailing on the surface, a beautiful celestial navigator. You’ll be dressed to the nines and thinking, I’m so lovely and fluid and graceful and I can see. Why can’t I see like this every day? What do I do down there all day? Where do I put my hands? How do I get anywhere?
You’ll chart the distance from all your grievances and sore spots and little nagging hurts. You’ll look out our broad windows at the sky, and you’ll think, I can make out where my life is going from here, I can see it stretch out to the horizon and double-back. I can see it curve up against the atmosphere like the thin pencil outline around a metal protractor.
The line will be so thin, the line of your life, you almost won’t see it at first, but it’ll catch your eye because it’s yours. You’ll recognize yourself. You’ll point and think, Whoa, look, there are my hopes, curving upward, and there’s my dog and her short life, and there’s my grief, and there’s the time I met you and lost you with my foolish heart but then found you again in your compassionate wisdom.
You’ll keep looking and you’ll realize, Oh my god, I can see the future from here! Look! There it goes. The line of my life cups around the earth like a shielding hand. There’s my sweet little unborn girl, and there’s all of that disappointment I won’t be able to handle very well at first but later I’ll grow and I will, and there’s that vegetable garden finally, ha! I’m so glad! Look at those tomatoes! And you’ll sit below it. You’ll watch that line climb until finally it reaches the zenith. And above you like that it’ll be so beautiful. It’ll be so beautiful because everything is. You’ll be filled with understanding so deep and wide and pliable that your heart will get heavy. I’ve never felt weight like that, but I’ll know I can carry it. Hmm, hmm, I can feel it. I’ll stay there with it, with the weight and the understanding. I’ll let it push down into me.
And then after a little while, you know, that’s it. This isn’t going to be Narcissus’s pool. This is just for regular people. People who need a view. I’ll rub my neck, sore from all that craning, but I can’t even tell you how much energy I’ll have. So much! I mean, why am I sitting here? Why don’t I get out there in my life already! So I pay my bill and tell the barman, you’re a good guy. I tell the lady to my left, it’s going to be ok. I see myself in the mirror behind the bar, and think, Hey, I’m not half bad. I pick up my jacket, fold it real nice over my arm.
Then the elevator door opens, and ding! I meet my ghosts. The bells around their necks are tinkling, all soft and light. Very soothing. I’m so happy and fresh! The ghosts are a little disheveled, maybe kinda cagey. You know ghosts. I greet them all, cause it’s weird, but I missed them a little. Hi, Bobby-from-high-school. Oh, hello, Bob-of-youthful-anger-and-rage, you’re looking dapper as usual. The atmospheric music comes on again. Oh, it’s very nice. How’s your woman, Freshman-year-of-college-Bobbo? Robert my man! Bobby-from-2013, you depressed fuck, I knew you’d be here! Aw, look at your mope-face. Don’t mope, I’m back.
We start moving. The elevator passes the 79th floor, the 78th, the 77th.
Oh what have you been up to? Oh yeah? That’s great. You’ve always wanted to try that. Yeah, I just had the most incredible night, I gotta tell you. My ghosts come down from the ceiling, sliding like condensation. They crowd around with little woofs and sweet kisses for my hand. We descend faster and faster. Ok, guys. Ha ha. I get it. You missed me. Being in an elevator is a controlled fall. I missed you, too.
I look into their faces. I see their blemished skin. Their watery hung-over eyes, the pink scar on the youngest temple and the extra-long beard on the one who’s crying, who never stops. Why won’t he stop. The elevator descends past the 4th floor, the 3rd but maybe we’re not moving. They pry open my mouth. Robert reaches his spindly hand and now there’s no more music. They wrap their thin transparent fingers around my throat and tighten. They say in their dead united voice. They say, don’t you dare ever leave us again.
Lyndsey Reese’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in [PANK], McSweeney'sInternet Tendency, Redivider, Hobart, and Vol. 1 Brooklyn.