New short story i wrote.

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New short story i wrote.

Postby Mickal Redwater » Mon Jun 15, 2009 12:12 am

So i've been writing more again. Started a series of short stories to put into a book.. this was the first i wrote (Most likely not first in the book when its done). Let me know what you think. Only edited it once, so can't promise there are no typos or problems.

Light from the February Sun
By Michael D. Pagano

The sun was shining in through the kitchen window. 6:48, a little earlier than last month, a little later than next month. It was primed to be the perfect February morning in Illinois. There was no snow on the ground, but the grass had a hint of dew glimmering in the newborn sunlight. She remembered the mornings when she would smile back at this sunny day and prepare herself for the hours to come. Today, she just lowered the blinds and went back to preparing breakfast in the harsh florescent glow in her lousy apartment. It was February 12th today, her birthday. She was born at 7:39 AM, she didn’t know the seconds, and no one else seemed to remember them either (they thought it was silly to ask). The toaster beeped, and shot a piece of toast a few inches into the air. Back when it was new, after their wedding years before, she would jump herself, surprised by this levitating toast, than she would giggle with her hand in front of her mouth as he lifted his mug of coffee and smiled at her.
Today she just grabbed the toast, slathered on some butter and put it next to a bowl of storebrand Cheerios, probably with a name like Awesome-Os. (They always wanted something fancy, like Trix or Honey Combs, but she always had to remind them of their financial problems, usually rather bluntly). She put the other piece of white bread into the toaster.
She looked at the clock again. 6:53. The clock didn’t display seconds, what oven clock would, but she knew if it did, she would note the seconds as well. The bus would be outside their house in 27 minutes, and an unknown amount of seconds. Its these seconds that would bother her, because she knew that it only takes 1 second to be late. For this reason, she waited, staring intently at the clock for it to change to the next minute. The toaster beeped and catapulted another piece of slightly burnt bread into the air. She still gazed unflinchingly at the clock. 6:54. Back to breakfast.
She buttered this toast, and put it next to another bowl of Awesome-Os. On this piece of toast she put a few dabs of strawberry jelly, creating a smiley face, which to her looked like someone bleeding out of their facial orifices. She shook her head to get the image out. This one was for Nelly, who just yesterday had turned 6. They were growing fast, but not fast enough still. Sometimes they made her feel chained down to this world.

“Nelly! Matthew! Get your butts down her now or you’ll be late for school, and I can NOT drive you today because the car is in the shop and your father already left for work!”

She heard a load moan come from the stairway. Her eldest, Matthew, tended to be a bit of a brat sometimes. He was only 9 years old and she knew he would be a royal pain when he hit puberty in a few more years, but she hoped things may change. Already she would get calls from the principal of their school, whose name she could never remember, something that sounded too much like Spongebob that she always just pictured him as a giant yellow box with very unhappy eyebrows. This way she didn’t feel so bad when he would tell her the nasty prank her son had pulled off this day. Like how he replaced all the ketchup bottles with vinegar. He was a smart boy, but he never used his brainpower for good. She hated these calls, whoever they were from (sometimes the Police) because they always ended with the same basic statement: You are a horrible mother.

Matthew walked in with his bright green shit turned backwards. Now his back had a picture of some cartoon turtle with a sword and he let the tag stick up around his neck. His jeans looked as if the boy had put them through the paper shredder in the office (After he had first came down with these pants a few months ago, she checked the office but found no evidence for such) with holes not only in the knees but everywhere other than his crotch. Lastly, he had taken hair gel and tried to spike his hair into something that vaguely represented a Mohawk. He must have thought he looked like the modern age James Dean, if he knew who that was.

“Sup mamma. What kind grub we got today?”

She didn’t understand why he talked like that. She didn’t know how to prevent him from acting out, she took the approach of letting his father handle it. Sadly this approach had failed recently, as John wasn’t as home that much recently, probably because he was sleeping with his mistress. At least that’s what she believed. She looked at the clock again. 7:01, only 19 minutes (plus how many seconds?) til the bus arrived.

“Where is your little sister? I made sure she was ready 20 minutes ago!”

She never really was very good at the whole mothering thing. She loved her children very much, and she tried to take care of them as best she could, but she never really grew out of her own dependencies to allow herself to take care of others. With her daughter it was easy to notice her faults. The poor child was very sweet and respectful, unlike her brother, but she never really fit in with school. Part of the problem was that she let the girl do anything she wanted, especially if John was gone.

“Mommy! I’m a princess!”

The little girl ran down the stairs, stopped at the second to last stair, planted her feet, and jumped down to the floor. She looked up at her mother and smiled her beautiful smile. She had just lost her left incisor and had the perfect Norman Rockwell style smile you’d expect from someone her age. On top of her head she had a plastic yellow tiara, and around her waist she had a tutu. If she had wings in her toychest she probably would have had those on as well. None of that was a problem for her mother though, except she had also gotten into her makeup stash.

“Honey, you KNOW you aren’t allowed to play with mommy’s makeup”

The picturesque smile vanished as quickly as it had arisen. If every smile comes with a ray of sunshine, the room had just gone dark. The little girl began to cry, and the eye shadow she had tried to apply began to stain her tears as they flowed down to her bright red lips ( she thought that eye shadow went all the way around the eyes, and had a lazy looking oval of black around her eyes. She looked almost like a raccoon, and somewhat like The Joker.)

“But Mommy, I just wanted to look bwootiful like you!”

She sighed. She didn’t know how to take care of these children. Most people say that mothers have a natural instinct when it came to taking care of babies. They said it would all come to her when she needed it, that’s how genetics works, that if you are born with two X chromosomes you will eventually understand how to be a mother. However when her genes were supposed to take the course in parenting they must have been out drinking instead.

“I know honey, but little girls aren’t supposed to wear makeup. But I promise you when Halloween comes around I will help you be a princess and even put on the makeup for you, now come with me to the bathroom and we’ll wash you up.”

The little girl smiled a little, not enough to light up the room, but enough to know that she will forget this whole incident in just a few hours. She ran to her mother, grabbed her hand and they headed to the bathroom. 7:09. Only 11 minutes left and she knew it was going to be close this morning.

Thankfully her son behaved himself. He ate his breakfast in silence while reading some video game magazine. She wasn’t sure what the title was, but it had the word ‘Gamer’ in big letters on the front. It seemed like a silly name for a magazine, and as far as she was concerned it was filth. On the front was a well rendered animated man in a red convertible (she never knew much about cars) with a large gun in his hand. Underneath the tires of the car was a scantily clad woman (who she presumed was a hooker) with blood oozing out of her midsection in which the tire was now on top of. It was a despicable image for a 9 year old to look at, let alone carry out (she knew he probably had this game, since his father bought him whatever he wanted without worrying about how it would make him act).
When she was done cleaning up Nelly, she took her hand and sat her down to breakfast. The clock now read 7:16, which meant the little girl would not have much time to eat.

“Finish off the cereal and you can take the toast with you, honey.”

The little girl began happily munching down on the cereal. The next 2 minutes were carried out in complete silence. She preferred this. A few seconds passed after the clock turned 7:18, and she began to rush the children out of the house. She made sure they both had their bookbags with a lunch inside (she didn’t even bother putting Matthew’s name on his indiscrete paper brown bag, since he had always yelled at her for writing his name too ‘girly’.) Nelly had a cute pink Barbie lunchbox (she still had her doubts about what role model Barbie really was, especially the Malibu edition, but she decided it must be better than an angry intercity murder with a hooker under his tire). She quickly rushed them out of the house, but as they went out the door, she went back in quickly and turned the stove on. It was an old fashioned gas stove, and when she heard the gas starting to fill the stove, she hurried up and followed her children down the driveway. The door slammed shut behind her and the hissing from the stove was silenced.

As they stood outside in the chilly, but sunny, weather, she looked down the narrow road for any signs of the bus. She didn’t have a watch (because she learned long ago that if she wore one, her entire life would be consumed by its numbers) but she had been counting the seconds since leaving the house. 84. The bus had only 36 more seconds before it was late. She knew that the 7:20 pickup time wasn’t exact (she figured this was true because otherwise the time wouldn’t be so round) but it still bothered her when it was late, especially today. Matthew had his hands in the pockets of his jacket, while Nelly held her mother’s hand, she had mittens on but she still liked holding her mother close. Matthew started jumping up and down to warm himself up.

“You know you wouldn’t be so cold if you wore your mittens”

The boy never took advice from his mother. Ever since John had been spending late nights ‘at the office’ he had become more and more rebellious.

“Mittens Ma? Mittens? I can’t think of anything gayer to wear than fuckin’ mittens!”

She flinched at this. Which felt nice, since it was really the first emotions she had let herself feel all morning. She hated it when he cursed and had no idea where he got it from.

“Matthew! Don’t you talk like that to me. Or anyone else for that matter! We do not say those words.”

He just crossed his arms and stared down the street away from her. She tried to remember where she stopped counting. It was at 253 seconds. How long did that argument take? 20 seconds? Maybe 40? Couldn’t be much more than that. She guessed 40 seconds to be on the safe side and started at 294. To her best recollection that put it at just about 7:23. She looked down the street, but still did not see the bus,

“Mommy? When will Daddy be home tonight? He was supposed’ta read me a story last night, but he never came home.”

As was life with John recently. Just a bunch of lies that piled up until it tipped over and suffocated her underneath. It was great for a while, she really thought that he would be the one to save her. As a teenager she had a lot of fights with her family, and began to cut herself to try and deal with it. She doesn’t remember where she got the idea from, but she remembers the release she would receive as the razor slowly tore through the skin, and bright red beads of blood would arise, glinting in the light of her secluded bathroom. She remembers how all of her misery and impure thoughts would come leaking out with the sticky redness. Afterward she would sit there in ecstasy as she waited for the blood to dry. Then she would put on a bandaid (which she always carried in her purse along with the razorblade). She does not remember exactly how many times she had done this, but some nights when she’s alone and John is ‘MIA’ she would try to count the scars on her legs and arms. Most of them were on her legs so she could hide the scars under pants and long skirts. Never would you see her in a bathing suit. Even during the best of times with John she would wait as long as she could before taking off her pants when they were going to make love.
One day in high school, her parents discovered one of her scars. They were loving enough, but they never understood how she felt. Their solution was always “Get over it,” or “Go outside and be with people. That will make you feel better, all you need is some good old fashioned fun and sunlight! Maybe you’ll meet a cute boy!” They didn’t understand how much she hated the sunlight and hated being with people. However she always thought about meeting a cute boy. How everything would be better if she was in love. All she needed was a prince in shining armor to scoop her up and take her away to happiness. Sometimes she’d smile thinking about this, but other times it would cause her to dart into the bathroom and lock the door.
Then one day her parents were getting more worried, so they sent her to a therapist. His name was John. He treated her lovingly and respectfully and tried to help her through he problems. She fell instantly in love. At the time she was 16 and he was 28, fresh out of school. After a few sessions of her wearing skimpy shirts (still no short skirts, even though John already knew of her cutting) and trying her best to flirt with him, they had engaged in sexual activity. She thought of it as ‘lovemaking’ even back then, because she knew she was in love with him. For him, it probably was nothing more than a good lay, especially since they did it on top of his desk, with his tie still on and his pants merely around his ankles. Every week she would come back and they would do the same thing, talk for 20 min. and go at it for 40. When the money ran out, she didn’t know what else to do so she blurted out that she was in love with him to her parents. They were outraged of course, but she did not tell them about the sex, so they did not press charges.
After that, she just merely wrote him love letters every day for the next 9 months, until she gave birth to Matthew. She never told anyone it was his child, not even John himself. Her parents helped her raise Matthew until she turned 18 and she told her parents the truth, as well as John. They were married that year, and her parents never spoke to her again.
After that, there was 5 years of bliss, or so she told herself. Matthew grew up, and Nelly was born, and John worked 10 hour days 7 days a week, and when he came home he was usually too tired to do anything anyways. But she was happier. Not happy, she truly believed that was an unattainable goal, but she was happier than she had been for a long time. She loved him, and they had two beautiful children together. She never got a job, but stayed at home and took care of her kids the best she could.
Then one day about a year ago, she started seeing the signs. The evidence of another woman (or women?). She smelled perfume on his nice shirts before she put them in the washer. She found long blonde hairs on his dress pants (she was a brunette, not that it mattered, as they had not been intimate in months). She found receipts for motels that were only a few miles from their house. And he would come home later and later every night, and some nights not at all. She wondered how long it had been going on, but to her it made sense. Who would want to be with her anyways. She figured he just married her because of the kids. He wasn’t her knight; he was just some unlucky fool who knocked up a crazy girl.

She saw the bus coming in the distance. By her count it was now 7:26 and 23 seconds. She wasn’t so sure about the seconds, but she liked to include them anyway. She turned to Nelly and gave her a nice big kiss on the cheek. She tried to get Matthew as well, but he just turned his back and ignored her. Instead she just touched his shoulder.

“Be good today Matthew. Please. I don’t want to have to talk to your Principal again”

He just shrugged her off and got on the bus which had just stopped in front of their house. Nelly followed him on, but turned around and smiled at her mother, blowing her a kiss as she traveled to a seat near the front of the bus. The bus driver tilted his hat towards her in recognition and then started off.

She waved one last goodbye to her children, trying not to cry yet. She knew she would eventually, but for now she didn’t want them to see it in her eyes. She figured it was 7:28, and hopefully that gave her just enough time. She turned around and walked back into her house.

When she got back into the kitchen, she could immediately smell the gas that had started to fill the room. She closed all the doors to try and keep it from seeping into other places and maybe endangering the kids. She knew that they would check the whole house first, and she hoped they would have the whole situation taken care of before the kids were even done school. She grabbed the cordless phone and took it over to the over with her. The clock read 7:35, that gave her a few minutes to daydream. She stuck her head in (the gas smell was much stronger here, and she could hear it leaking in through the pipes). She was already starting to feel dizzy, but she was short on time so she figured it would all work out.

She knew it wasn’t an original idea, but she couldn’t remember who had done it. Some famous writer from the 50s or 60s or somewhere. She wasn’t a big reader, and she wasn’t making any kind of statement. She just wanted it done, and she didn’t want it to hurt. No one ever said she was that creative anyway.
When she started to feel even more woozy, she picked up the phone. She dialed John first, only to get a voicemail, which was probably for the best. She figured he was either with a client or fucking some girl, maybe both at the same time. She left him a quick message:

“John, I need you to come home as soon as you can. The kids will need you”

She hung up and dialed 911, she didn’t say anything, but she knew they would come anyway to check it out. She just hopes they don’t come in time. She figured she had timed it well enough that they won’t be able to do anything. She just wanted to make sure it wasn’t one of the kids who saw her first.

She thought of her kids, and the tears began to come. She had cried a lot over the last few years, more times than she’d like to remember, but usually she felt like it was about nothing at all. Sometimes it was about Matthew. Sometimes it was about John and his pretty little mistress. But most the time it was about having to wake up the next morning and start a new day. The thought of repeating this all over and over again for the rest of her life was just too much to handle. The pain she felt from just having to wake up surpassed her love for her children. And as for John, she just hoped that pretty little mistress of his was born with the maternal instinct gene. She looked at the clock and watched as it flickered over to 7:39. It’s too bad she never knew the seconds. The tears stopped, as did her heart.
Lancelot: Would it not be a comfort, just for a time, to believe that we create our own Heavens, and our own Hells?
FEL forever
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Mickal Redwater
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