Reunion (part 10)

Tracy woke up early, before sunrise. Tom had assured her they could leave at dawn, and she waited for the first sliver of sun as a sprinter waits for the crack of a pistol. She tiptoed down the stairs, arms wrapped around suitcases, and gently deposited them by the door. When morning came, she would rouse her husband with breakfast in bed if that’s what it took. They were leaving.

She’d learned the house well enough that she could navigate in the dark. The stairs creaked, as they do under the strain of desperation. She prepared excuses, “Couldn’t sleep, just wanted to get an early start,” and felt safe knowing that soon she would have a hundreds of miles buffer. As the last duffelbag dropped into place, she noticed an underline of light from the kitchen, and shadows of footsteps.

“Oh hi, I hope I didn’t wake you,” she rehearsed. She muttered the words with different shades of mock surprise as she worked up the courage to act nonchalant. “I thought I could sneak a piece of that delicious chocolate pie.”

She opened the door and acted startled to see the little old man sipping tea and making notes at the head of the table. Her surprise became real as she realized who it was. This was David, her husband’s father. “Oh hi,” she said. She couldn’t say anything more. He said nothing at all.

She didn’t want any pie. She pulled a glass from the cupboard and poured some water from the flap on the front of the fridge. She drank it in a few gulps, and filled her glass again. “I haven’t seen you since the wedding. How have you been?”

The man made no reply. He batted at his teabag a little, and resumed sketching whatever diagram or schematic happened to be on his mind. She wondered if he could hear her, or if in his brilliance the passion of his work overrode all senses. “Do you love your wife?” she asked. “Do you love your son?”

He stood up. “I’ve never heard anything so ridiculous.” He threw his teacup in the sink, breaking it. As he stormed back to his basement workshop, he knocked more plates off their shelves and onto the floor, and slammed the door behind him.

As Tracy cleaned up the mess, a piece of glass found its way in her finger. “I’m sorry I’m so clumsy,” she rehearsed. “I just wanted a piece of that delicious chocolate pie.”

“You should have turned the light on,” her husband said. “You should have done everything different. Apologize to Mom right now.”

“I’m sorry,” Tracy said again. They were words his mother understood.

 

#absent-fathers, #abuse, #anger-management, #holidays, #misogyny, #preparation, #time-capsule

Reunion part 1

As much as she loathed his family, in the interest of peace, love and calenders, Tracy consented to a week in their moldy old mansion with their moldy old selves. Thomas assured her that they would be on their best behavior for the holiday season, and though she didn’t believe that he had any control over his domineering father or his mother’s infectiously low self-esteem, she didn’t want him to suffer alone. She didn’t want him to suffer at all. Were it feasible to legally seperate him from their bloodline, she would gladly file the paperwork.

“They’ll be fine, I promise. They’ve mellowed with age.”

She would become a notary if it would speed up the process. A quick law degree from a small, local college should be easy enough, if that would help.

“I worry that if I don’t maintain good relations with them, they’ll write me out of the will.”

His mother greeted them at the door and hugged her only son violently, with the full body contortions of a fish accidentally flopped up onto land. She embraced Tracy more gently. “Thank you so much for coming. You don’t know what this means to us.”

“Oh, great,” Tracy affirmed. The woman needed constant affirmations, as she recalled. “Glad to be here.”

“Daddy’s in his study, but I’m sure he’ll be out for dinner.”

She insisted on carrying Tracy’s bag through the labyrinthine corridors of their empty home. With the added weight, she moved slowly, but she would not allow Tracy to take over.

“I’m fine,” she insisted, with a sudden burst of venom. Tracy did not push the issue. She glanced at her husband, but he didn’t seem to notice anything was wrong.

“Aren’t you going to say, ‘Thank you?'” he prompted as his mother dropped her luggage at the foot of a bed. Tracy swallowed and repeated the words, which the old woman didn’t seem to hear.

“Oh and Mom, can you make me a hot chocolate? You make the best hot chocolates.”

#abuse, #christmas, #entitlement, #family, #fiction-in-parts, #holidays, #old-habits

Bully

Although he was proud of his son for discovering his identity so early in life, Sutherland had worries. While he was fine with whatever a seven-year-old thought gay was, probably not much different than what other nine-year-olds thought of close friends, he didn’t have much faith in the youth of Polk County Public Schools. They would be ruthless, if not yet, then soon.

“Son, you have to watch your lisping. I’m your dad and I love you no matter what, but other people don’t know you yet, and they’ll see any sign of weakness as a chance to attack.”

Allen nodded seriously at this advice. He was a good kid, sensitive and socially focused. When Sutherland corrected him on his walk, “You’re swinging your hips too much. You’ve got to make your motions deliberate,” the boy followed his advice exactly, and asked clarifying questions.

“What should I be doing with my arms?”

The boy would be great at choreography someday, Sutherland thought.

He remembered how unhelpful his own father had been, about everything. Interests in painting and guitar had been personality flaws. With a little encouragement, he might have gone to art school, but the way his father sneered at him about impracticality turned him into the vague professional he was today. He was not his father. He would do all he could to help his son be the best person he could be.

“You cannot wear that shirt. They’ll kill you. You go upstairs and you change it right now. And stop that mincing!”

The boy complied as best he could, without complaint or will of his own.

#abuse, #good-intentions, #identity, #parents, #self-fulfilling-prophecy, #society

Compliment (The Fetishists – BBW)

Shortly after Valerie hit thirty, some of her friends started making playful jokes about her body. “Who’s the father?” was a favorite, and the least subtle. Her friends were terrible and she hated them, but she could not deny the motivational merit of their abuse. She started going to the gym, and even after the comments stopped, she maintained her routine every morning.

“Excuse me,” someone said, poking her in the shoulder. His finger was now covered in her sweat, but he didn’t seem to mind. Valerie almost apologized, and she hated that that was her instinct.

“What is it?” she said. “People don’t usually talk to each other in here. There are rules.”

The man looked nervous. He was young and a little chubby, though not in the way men usually are. All his weight went straight to his chest, and he tried to hide his figure by slumping his shoulders.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I just wanted to let you know that I think you’re beautiful. Don’t think I’m hitting on you or harassing you. I’m not. I just like seeing a confident woman. You have a good day.”

Valerie resumed her workout. Her earbuds blared Ride of the Valkyries as she climbed the final mountain of the elliptical’s Himalayan Trek. What the hell did he mean by confident? She wiped down the machine and changed in the locker room. The flaps of skin that poured over her waistline could suspend her in water like a jellyfish.

“You’re beautiful just the way you are,” a towel-clad stranger said, noting her distress. It was just the sort of thing they tell fat people.

#abuse, #aging, #awkward, #body-issues, #haters-gonna-hate, #misogyny, #negging

Deathbed

Waking up had never felt so important. As David Blanchett gasped himself awake, the crowd around him murmured in relief. They had thought he was gone, and he had been.

“Dad, we thought we lost you.”

“It’s a miracle.”

They crammed around the bed, trying their best to hug him through the wires and the tubes. They touched his hands. He tried to squeeze back.

“Give him some space. He’s had a long day.” The doctor pulled away Kaitlin, the youngest, and the rest of the family dispersed behind her and out the door. Kaitlin lingered another moment, and as Timothy, the oldest, grabbed her shoulder, she took a deep swallow. “I love you, Daddy,” she said, and as though she’d said something wrong, scampered off into the hallway.

A few days later, he left the hospital. The kids were at school, but his wife drove him home. “What do you think it’s going to cost?” she asked.

“I don’t know. You can’t really put a price tag on your health.”

Regina seemed to contemplate this premise until they were home. She opened up a can of beans and emptied it into a plastic microwavable container. When it was hot, she set it in front of him and made to leave.

He coughed. “I thought we might celebrate later.”

“But darling, you hate celebrations.” She kissed him on the forehead and got in the car.

When the kids came home, they rushed past him to the living room, where they had an Xbox. He followed after.

“What’s that you’re playing there? Some game?”

“Nothing,” said Timothy, shutting off the console. The rest of them scampered off behind him. “Please don’t be mad. It’s my fault.”

David said nothing.

“Aren’t you going to hit him, Daddy?”

#abuse, #family, #father, #microfiction, #parents, #patriarchy, #second-chances, #terrible, #violence

Apologies

A nice breakfast would work. She woke up especially early to mix dough for the cinnamon wheels, which were his favorite. Her recipe used yeast, so she had to start it several hours in advance. With that time, she could finish cleaning the kitchen, the bathroom, all her favorite parts of the house, where she was so lucky to live.

She was scrubbing the floor when her uncle bellowed, “What’s all the racket? Don’t you know I’m trying to sleep?” He was standing behind her, red-faced and unmade. Tabitha could think of nothing to say more articulate than “I’m sorry.” When she said it, her uncle mocked her, “I’m sorry,” and stomped off back to his room.

When the rolls were in the oven, Uncle Bert came out again. “I’m late for work. I have to go. Try to do something productive today, huh?”

“Oh. I made cinnamon buns. They’ll be done in a minute.”

Her uncle smirked in exasperation. “Sure, I’ll tell that to my boss. Sorry I couldn’t get to work on time, my niece insisted I eat junk food. Are you trying to embarrass me?”

Tabitha lowered her head and swallowed. “I’ll save them for you.”

“Don’t bother. They’re only good warm.”

She watched his car drive out down the gravel path. She’d have to spend the rest of the day figuring out an appropriate apology for wasting all that flour and butter, which isn’t free. Not to mention the rat poison. She was really sorry to have wasted that.

#abuse, #apology, #cinnamon-rolls, #microfiction, #murderers

Ogre (masochism)

Though the caravan was lined with lights in all manner of color and size, they did little to clarify the evening. Glorn could not see far, and he could not hold his hand over his eyes to find the balance between glare and dim. His hands were secured over his head. He could break the rope at any time, and he took comfort in the thought, but it was just a thought. A number of baseballs struck him in the chest from where he could not see.

“This brute comes from a race that doesn’t feel pain, so throw as hard as you can!” Edgar announced. The balls seemed to come in a quicker rhythm. Their impact was not precise enough to be a massage, but Glorn was not uncomfortable.

“Eight hundred years ago, these monsters were employed by the great Genghis Khan in his takeover of The Far East, until they threatened to take over themselves. Your abuse, ladies and gentlemen, is all that is keeping this one docile. Three balls for just one dollar! Five swings of the the whip for ten!”

A child stood on the platform behind him, with his father. Glorn heard the three of them talking — Edgar and the customers — about the proper technique and protocol for whip swinging.

“The follow-through is important. Think about where the tip is headed.”

Edgar demonstrated with a strike of his own, well-practiced. No one would hit hard enough if he didn’t show them that they could.

The boy’s attempts were sloppy and soft. Edgar told him to try a few more times.

“I think that’s enough.”

“No, Dad, he likes it!”

The whip snapped just once more, and the baseballs stopped coming. Glorn snarled at the empty fairground.

“Pervert!” someone shouted.

It kept him docile.

#abuse, #fairground, #microfiction, #mythical-creatures, #paraphilia, #the-fetishists