Monday, June 30, 2014

Mother May I?

Alice turned her chair to the side so she could look over her shoulder at her father while still eyeing the house.
“Are you sure about this Dad?” She asked, worry heavy in her tone.

Her father, a graying older man that walked with a slight slouch, his sweater making up the bulk of him, shuffled closer and leaned down to hug his daughter, a wide and tired smile on his face. “I’m certain kitten. The place has never felt right since your mother went missing all those years ago.”
Alice just shrugged, adjusting her sleeveless tank top as her nephew bolted past her, barreling into her father’s home. Well, for the next seventy two hours at least. Then it was the home of some other family that, according to her father, were really looking forward to a single story colonial home with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Alice and her father just laughed as Nicky, her spaz of a nephew, ran off into the house, ducking beneath his father carrying what looked to be heavy boxes.
“Hey! Watch where you’re going champ, you almost tripped me up!” He yelled down the hall into the darkened house.
“Sorry Dad!” He called back, making swooshing noises with his action figures as he ran into the master bedroom.
“Do you have those Joshua?” Alice’s Dad, Robert, asked, moving to help Joshua with the heavy load. Joshua was a middle-aged car salesman that worked at one of the most successful lots in the city, earning him a significant paycheck every two weeks.
“I got ‘em Rob.” Joshua said, just as the top box tipped over and fell between Roberts grasping hands and into Alice’s legs, resting comfortably in her chair. The box split open with a crash as plates broke and shattered all about, sending shards of glass in every direction.
Alice rolled backward, so as to get out of their way as they looked at the damage. “Here Josh, just give me the box and I’ll take it to the U-haul.”
“Not with a bleeding leg you will,” came her sister’s voice, walking out from the house, a towel in her hand. Jess’s chestnut brown hair was pulled back into a single pigtail, which trailed down to the middle of her back. Her red shirt advocating Gay rights was dusty and smudged with dirt, while her hands were glistening wet from a recent cleaning. She walked around the pile of broken glass and kneeled down to examine Alice’s legs, one of which had an inch long shard imbedded in her calf, blood dribbling from the wound slowly.
“Oh I hadn’t even noticed that I was cut,” Alice said, trailing off. The nature of her condition made watching out for injuries to her lower half a priority, as well as a routine treatment of pills for her weakened heart. She even carried syringes full of adrenaline meant to be injected into her should her heart have an attack or episode, either of which could kill her. She watched impassively as her sister cleaned her leg, wrapping a bit of gauze around the room after rubbing it with a rag doused in alcohol.
“That hurts when Mom does it to me. How come it doesn’t hurt you Aunt Alice?” Nicky asked, catching everyone’s attention. Robert fell quiet and Joshua admonished his son, telling him that was a rude question.
“Now, there’s no need for that.” Alice said with a smile, looking across the yard to where Nicky was standing in the doorway. “I’m a paraplegic, meaning among other things my legs and lower half do not function like yours do. I can go to the bathroom and clean myself alright, but I can’t walk or feel anything in my legs.”
“Why?” Nicky asked.
“Because I was injured when I was really young, and as a result of that injury I can’t walk.”
“Oh,” Nicky said, looking down at the ground for a moment. “Will you ever get better?”
“I already am better,” Alice said with a smile, folding her hands in her lap. “I have a wonderful career as an artist, a loving family and good health. If having all of those means I can’t walk, then I’m fine with that.”
Jess stood up, her hands on her hips. “Nicky! You know it’s rude to ask people questions like that.”
“Yeah, listen to your mother.” Joshua said, moving around the pile of broken glass towards the U-haul.
“Really guys, I’m not bothered by the question in the slightest.” Alice protested, raising her hands to try and calm them down.
“This is a lesson he needs to learn. What if he were to ask a boy in class that and he didn’t have a good enough answer for it? Not everyone is as accepting of their condition as you are Alice.”
“That’s because I don’t view it as a condition, I view it as a lifestyle. I didn’t choose this, but I have to live with it. Some people will make a big deal about it, but I say they can go to hell for all I care. I may not be normal in the sense that I’m walking around and have a family of my own, but I love my life.”
“Good for you honey,” Robert said, moving in to plant a kiss on her head. “Now everyone inside while I clean this mess up. Pizza should be here soon enough.”
“Are you sure you don’t need any help?” Jess asked her father as Joshua herded Nicky into the house, Alice rolling right behind them.
“I’m fine, just set up the living room so we can watch some movies and I’ll be right as rain.” He said, moving to get his broom and dustpan.
“Alright,” Jess said, not sounding entirely sure. “I’ll go inside and make sure everything is set up.”
Robert merely nodded, sweeping the broken dishes into a pile slowly before pulling up the trash can from the side of the street up into the driveway. Taking three full dustpans worth of broken dishes, he dumped the whole lot out into the trash can with three tumultuous crashes of crushing glass.
A shadow moving in the corner of his eye made him look up, the figure bringing a scowl to his lips.
“Go away,” He hissed, stamping his foot. “You’re not wanted here!”
The figure remained for a second or two more, more shadow and mist than anything tangible, before fading into nothingness.

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