Marianne and Charlie came home from the bug museum and brought pizza with them. “We thought you might like a treat,” Marianne said. “We got the kind you like best, with extra tomatoes and mushrooms.”
“You can have my tomatoes,” Charlie said. “I don’t like them on pizza.”
“But there’s tomato sauce on the pizza,” Isaac said. He sneezed.
“It’s not the same,” Charlie said.
“All right,” Isaac said. “Did you have fun at the museum?”
“Yeah,” Charlie said. “Bugs look like weird aliens or baby dinosaurs or something. I think there should be a dinosaur book with giant bugs. Maybe they could be friends with the dinosaurs.”
“You should write a letter to the author,” Isaac said. He sneezed again.
“Are you okay?” Marianne asked. “Your eyes look pretty red. Did Cousin Reginald wear too much of his awful homemade cologne? How did your visit with him go?”
“He was doing well. But he brought a dog over to visit,” Isaac said.
“Oh dear,” Marianne said. “Doesn’t he know that you’re allergic to dogs?”
“I guess not,” Isaac said. “It ran into Charlie’s room and hid in the closet. We had a hard time getting it out. It’s a really big dog.”
“So, has cousin Reginald finally grown past his second adolescence?” Marianne asked. “It’s about time he did something normal like buying a dog.”
“Oh, it’s not his,” Isaac said. “It belongs to a medium he met somewhere. He’s borrowing it to see if her dog can really sense ghosts or something like that. He’s been visiting haunted houses.”
“And is our house haunted?” Charlie asked.
“I don’t know,” Isaac said. He sneezed twice. “I’m going to vacuum again after lunch. And open all the windows.” He went to the cupboard for his allergy medicine. He turned it over and shook it. It was silent. He pulled out the cotton. It was empty.
“I’ll go get you some more after lunch,” Marianne said. “Do you want to come, Charlie? We could get popsicles.”
So, after lunch, Marianne and Charlie left. Isaac opened the windows and started to vacuum. His eyes were itchy, and he kept sneezing. He vacuumed down the hallway and into Charlie’s room.
He picked up Charlie’s shoes to move them under his desk. Isaac started to sneeze terrible, explosive sneezes. He looked down at the shoes in his arms. “Oh, the dog was sitting on these, wasn’t he?” Isaac said.
He sneezed again. The world turned blue. He dropped the shoes and they seemed to fall slower than they normally would. He looked up. He couldn’t see the ceiling. Instead, light seemed to filter down through a murky haze.
Isaac tried to lift his arms. It felt like he was moving underwater. He took a deep breath. It wasn’t real. He could breathe just fine. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw movement. He turned. He could see something large gliding through the air nearby. Was it a large fish?
From far away, he could hear the front door open. “We’re home,” Marianne said. The light was suddenly brighter. Isaac looked around. Everything was back to normal. He left the shoes where they were. “Welcome home,” he called back. “I’m almost done in here.”
Marianne and Charlie came in, carrying shopping bags. “I can vacuum the closet, Dad,” Charlie said. “You should take your medicine. Then we can have the popsicles.”
“Okay,” Isaac said. “I think our house is haunted by the ocean.”
“Maybe you need a nap,” Marianne said. “Come take your medicine first.”
Isaac sneezed. “Good idea,” he said.