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

Vice

No one knew his secret, that he was the Vice President of the United States.

Out fishing with the boys, sometimes the conversation would turn to foreign policy or federal interest rates. He had to bite his tongue.

His wife suspected something. She came home one night and overheard part of a conversation about diplomatic relations with China. She said nothing. They ate dinner. They tucked in the kids. They sat up reading on their sides of the bed, she the paper, he a spy thriller.

He coughed. “I guess you’re wondering what I was talking about on the phone earlier.”

“Not really.”

“There’s a new guy at work, you see, and nobody gets along with him. We’re just trying to figure that out.”

“Great.”

She wasn’t looking up. She wasn’t even listening. He would tell her the truth someday, when she was ready. If he could hold out three more years, it wouldn’t even matter. A few drinks in, he could reveal himself in an embarrassing little anecdote from the past. “You’ll never guess.” It would be meaningless and charming. He looked forward to that.

His wife made a exasperated noise. “Can you believe this pathetic attempt at health care reform? Ridiculous.”

He had engineered that particular compromise. “I know! They should be ashamed of themselves.”

That was all she wanted to hear. She turned over and went to sleep.

He hated keeping secrets, but it was necessary. She wouldn’t understand. Neither would his friends, or his children. They all hated the powerful, and complained of their sick pleasure, controlling policy and people. At the same time, he couldn’t help but think that maybe they were hiding the fact that they wanted to be powerful, too.

With a sigh, he tightened his collar and strapped himself to sleep.

#absurd, #holidays, #marriage, #microfiction, #paraphilia, #politics, #president, #the-fetishists

Saint

The lady was nervous. She had not been to see him before, he was sure, because he knew all his parishioners down to the last detail. Though he could not see her face, he would have known her by her breath, or by her hesitation. Those he knew learned not to hesitate.

When eventually she spoke, she spoke in ritual.

“Bless me, father, for I have sinned.”

He had no idea what a sin was anymore. Were it not for this impersonal furniture, he would reach out to her and squeeze the guilt right out. She talked of impure thoughts and impure deeds, of addiction and lust, but nothing she mentioned sounded bad to him. A lot of it sounded fun. She knew what she’d enjoy; her problem was she didn’t know how to enjoy it.

“Do not worry, my child.” He reached in his pocket and pressed a slip of pink paper through the divide. She studied it carefully. He had drawn on the paper a feather rubbing gently against his ceremonial robes. “You tickle my fancy,” read the caption.

He stepped out from his curtain. He pulled hers back and stepped in. They sat in the darkness together and he assured her, “It’s all right. You’re safe with me.”

She let him touch her. God was love, in his way, and to be touched by a man of God was love, too. He wrapped her thigh in his fingers, and she was forgiven. She touched him back under his robes, and was baptized with a million tiny ablutions, all over her face.

#absurd, #god-is-love, #holidays, #microfiction, #obscene, #sacrilege, #valentines