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

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

Invalid

No hope of recovery meant that he didn’t have to worry anymore about the sorts of calamities that other people face. He would have no relationships. He would never have a job again, and though money was an issue, he wouldn’t have to worry about it. No one could move him from the house.

“Get up!” his brother shouted. “I know you can. You don’t fool me for a minute.”

Reggie made a sincere attempt. He held the walker with both hands and threw himself off the bed. He had no muscles, and the effort was extreme. When he collapsed in a pile of skin, his brother scoffed.

“You need to exercise more,” he said.

Reggie did his best to nod as he was lifted over the bedpan. Because his brother seemed particularly miffed, he wanted to finish quickly, but he had no control over his body.

Most of an hour later, something finally fell out of him, and he tried to apologize for taking so long.

“What’s that? Speak up.”

Reggie couldn’t raise his jaw once it had fallen.

“Why are you even alive? If you don’t die or stop faking soon, I may have to finish the job myself.” He threw Reggie back into his bed without pulling up the pajama bottoms. The blankets were on the floor.

He would never have to do his own taxes. He would never have to choose between his family and his career. Never would he have to stand in line at the DMV.

#family, #helpless, #optimism, #pitilessness, #sickness, #uncomfortable