The Short Humour Site

Home : Writers' Showcase : Submission Guidelines : A Man of a Few More Words : Links

Writers' Showcase

Who Knows
by Pavelle Wesser

“Thanks for treating me to dinner me on my birthday, Aunt Ethyl,” Val smiled.

“I’m glad we could celebrate together, Val. Who knows, I may not be alive for your next birthday.”

“Don’t say that, please.”

“It’s true,” her aunt insisted. “Speaking of which, the time has come for me to entrust you with a family heirloom.” 

Ethyl scratched the place where her ear had once been and then reached into her purse to remove a small, red box, which she handed to Val.

 “Be gentle with this, Val.”

“What’s inside the box?”

“I don’t want to know, Val, and I suggest you take the same attitude.”


Ethyl once again scratched the place where her ear had been. “I’m sorry Val, I can’t tell you.”

“Aunt Ethyl, there’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you. What happened to your left ear?”

“I lost it.”


“How does one lose anything, Val?”

“Body parts don’t just get up and walk away, Aunt Ethyl.”

“In this family they do.”

Val shook her head as Edith signaled to the waiter for the check.


That night, Val lay in bed thinking about how she had always felt like there was a family secret no one was telling her. Her mother had been missing a finger and her father a toe, yet neither parent had ever been inclined to talk about why.

Val heard a low groan beside her in the bed and stiffened. She turned around to see an old, wrinkled man lying naked beside her. As her eyes adjusted to the dark, she realized that the man was missing his nose. She figured that asking him about its whereabouts might start them off on the wrong foot.

 “Who are you?” she asked instead.

The man pointed wordlessly across the room. 

“What is it?” asked Val. 

The man kept pointing.

“Oh, I get it!”  Val got up and walked over to the desk. She, at least, was decently dressed in a nightgown. She lifted the small red box for the man to see. “Is this what you want?” 

The man ran over and grabbed the box from her. Opening it, he smiled. On a square of cotton rested a nose. He put it on his face, where it fit perfectly.

“It looks good,” said Val.

“Thank you,” said the man and walked out.

“Don’t you want to get dressed,” she called after him, but he was already gone.

Just then, Val felt something trickling down her face. When she wiped it away, her hand came away with blood. She touched her face and screamed.

“Help!  My nose!”


“You shouldn’t have,” Aunt Ethyl later said, “I live everyday regretting that I unknowingly gave away my ear to a dead relative.”

“Why didn’t you warn me, Ethyl?”

“This is the family secret, Val, though some say it’s a curse.”

Val groaned. “Am I ever going to get my nose back?”

“In your lifetime,” reasoned Aunt Ethyl, “honestly, who knows?”