Gentle Cozy Universe-Spinning Whispers

Gentle Cozy Universe-Spinning Whispers

Edward in Apartment 12c does not want to fuck Nya X but a lot of people probably do. He spends all day in the corner of his bedroom running data analytics and taking report requests from women who don’t understand SQL search queries, drinking espressos from his expensive machine too late in the afternoon. When the city slides into dark-enough, he needs her.

Edward cannot find rest without Nya X since his mother died and he watches her on YouTube precisely because he is not turned on when she dresses like a Russian nurse or takes measurements for a custom fitted suit from the other side of his phone screen. Nya X doesn’t play obviously sexy like the younger, trendier women desperately trying to mimic her magic, but who miserably fail with excessive cleavage or giggling.

Nya X is reliable, consistent, her voice sultry and accented, her ASMR kind. She keeps her makeup kindergarten-teacher-appropriate whether she is pretending to give a Tarot reading or trim a beard. Her transformations are exhilarating. She is a librarian clicking at a keyboard, shuffling papers; or, in another video she is an aesthetician massaging Edward’s skin with honey. In older ones she simply crinkles cellophane, runs her red fingernails across a giant microphone.

Edward and Nya X have been going on for years. His girlfriend picks fights when he insists on having Nya X in bed with them.

“Ed, will you ever turn it off? That damn eternal whispering?”

“I think she existed before YouTube,” Edward replies, drunk on the suggestion.

“This is the kind of call 1-800 porny stuff from 3 am commercials when we were small. I’m worried you can’t function without it.”

Edward scrolls backwards in the playlist queue and finds Nya X’s glowing face in all its iterations, across seemingly endless clips. “She probably soothed anxiety over the phone back then too.”

“She existed before MySpace and CD-ROMS. Floppy disks,” Edward’s girlfriend teases. “She existed before time itself.”

“Yes. And there is no one alive who remembers before that,” Edward says, ending the conversation.

Edward is not looking for a new mother figure but from the comments on recent videos he knows Nya X is a mother. He prefers visiting his mother’s grave when his sister can accompany him, but she’s busy in graduate school now and flakes often. It’s been a few months since they’ve gone. His mother’s birthday is next week, and Edward remembers how she pretended to hate the fuss their father made in celebration–a new charm for her bracelet, a set of leather driving gloves, loud happy singing.

Edward wishes he’d asserted his preference for eco-death with his father when decisions were being made. He was younger then, didn’t know about fungi shrouds or cedar chip body composting. Even after-the-fact he researches natural burials while his girlfriend watches porn. Natural decay isn’t cheap–but is anything worth doing? Something could be growing from his mother’s remains, photosynthesis in greenery nourished by her bones instead of smooth stone over her body lying in its dark quilted box, lined up with all the others, enriching nothing. Next week, with or without his sister in tow, Edward decides he will spontaneously choose at the flower shop whether to buy 62 flowers to commemorate his mother’s age, or 3 to mark the number of years she has been gone.

This can’t last forever—the nightly requirement for whispering to deliver Edward to fungi dreams. But for right now it takes him courage to swat the mosquito that has entered the apartment through the open window, to deny the gift of blood from skin, to watch the heavy moonrise from the bedroom window, to feel the heat of someone alive next to him. In Edward’s favorite Nya X video she thrums about sustaining foods and teas, softly opening packaging, pretending to feed him, and he drifts off thinking of his mother sitting in a small boat, gliding to the next place, singing to sea life in a language only they understand. If Nya X stops whispering, if YouTube stops serving him its ceaseless queue, the universe slides into dark-enough and the gods only know what happens next.


About the Author

Kate Gehan’s debut short story collection, The Girl and The Fox Pirate, was published by Mojave River Press in 2018. Her writing has appeared in McSweeny’s Internet Tendency, Split Lip Magazine, People Holding, Literary Mama, and Cheap Pop, among others. She is nonfiction editor at Pithead Chapel. Find her work at


Photo by Leon Bublitz on Unsplash