Monday, December 7, 2015

Et Ascendit In Caelum, Part Four

I should’ve throttled that little shit, Libby thought, staring at the floorboards of her kitchen. There was a nail sticking straight up out of one of them, and another that looked poised to do the same. He hired a hack to do this, a regular hack.

“What’re you glaring at, ma?” Fynn asked, ducking into the kitchen. He was three-quarters of his full height, which seemed to make him most comfortable these days, and it took him a moment to locate the source of Libby’s angst. “Oh, c’mon, are you still getting mad at the house? It’s not that bad.”

Libby turned her ire at her youngest son. “Not that bad? The bathroom’s a hole in the floor, the roof looks like shit, the front porch wobbles, there’re nails sticking up everywhere, and the wood they used is some of the worst garbage I’ve seen in ages! Most of it is cracking already! This ‘house’ is gonna fall down in two years, tops!”

“Then… build a new one?” Fynn seated himself on the ground, reaching for a plate of cookies on the kitchen table. He’d made them himself, and carefully nibbled the outer edges of his first cookie. His eating habits seemed to become more and more peculiar the older he got. “You like building. And you probably are better than the guy who made this place. Might as well.”

Libby snorted. They’d arrived at their new home more than a week ago, and she’d complained bitterly about it every day. Every element of the place annoyed her, from the narrow bedrooms to the low, slopping shingles. It was too cold at night, too hot during the day, creaked constantly, and lacked in furniture. She hated the whole thing, and hated whatever bastard had set it up in the first place. If she ever met the guy - and she was certain it was a guy, somehow, just certain - she would slug him one, right in the nose. And cheek. And chest. And genitals.

“I’d have to tear this place down first,” Libby grunted. She seated herself beside her son, sighing as she glared at the cabinets. “Would take ages. Maybe you can do it for me? You’re strong.”

“What, you don’t want to reuse any of this quality wood?” Fynn smirked, gently rapping a knuckle against the table. “Yeah, I can do it if you want, but let’s spend a little while longer in this one, see if it suits us after a while. I don’t think one week is enough time to decide whether it’s awful or not.”

Kid, you’re growing up too fast. Libby cocked her head, observing Fynn. He’d grown from a baby to a not-so-awkward teen in record time, his rounded baby fat replaced by… well, okay, an equally rounded face, but it was a handsome face. He was a rather exotic alternative to the pasty men that usually inhabited the Indy Plains, and Libby knew he’d be beating lusty women off with a sword if he ever moved into a city. Or she’d be beating them off, she wasn’t sure yet.

There was another thought in there, too, a subtle note that she was forced to acknowledge every time she looked into Fynn’s eyes. A familiarity. But it was too sad for the moment, and she pushed it away.

“Where’s that spider of yours?” Libby looked to Fynn’s shoulder, raising an eyebrow. “He off hunting again? I thought you said he was going to make tea.”

Fynn shrugged. “Hunting, I think. There are lots of mice ‘round the house that make for good meals. Bet he finds them a bit dopey at this time of day.”

“Yeah, I guess.” Libby smiled inwardly at the thought of rat cousins being turned into meals. “Though I could’ve sworn someone told me he was a vegetarian. Or something like that.”

Fynn shook his head. “Ahh, what’s it matter. He eats what he eats, ’n that’s good enough.”

Grabbing a cookie for herself, Libby peered through the (crooked, annoyingly crooked) kitchen window. From here she could see only the tips of trees, already coated in the first hints of frost, thrust into a clear blue sky. She wondered at the frost, realizing that the seasons seemed much less abrupt these days. That was a good thought, too - a single, blanket, mass snowfall out of nowhere could very well crush their crappy house, and everything in it. Libby crunched her cookie, considering the weirdness of the world, and how relatively normal she was compared to everything that happened in her life.

He would probably say I’m not normal at all, Libby thought. He’d probably say I’m just as weird as the rest. Then I’d slug him, and we would bitch for a few minutes. Doesn’t seem like much of a normal relationship for a married couple, so… maybe he’s right, in a way.

Lost in her thoughts, Libby barely noticed when Fynn kissed her on the forehead, got to his feet, and ducked out the front door. She assumed he was off to explore the valley again, keen to learn more about this place he now called home. She called for him to put on boots, and he complied, tromping away from the house and off into the distance, the top of his head suddenly much taller and rivalling the trees for space through the kitchen window.

He’s just a giant version of his dad. Libby stared at the remains of her cookie. Just a big, stupid, giant version of that idiot. Almost wish he looked completely different.

Libby wondered where her husband was. She knew, but… she wondered. 

As she wondered, Fynn came charging back to the house, flinging the front door open.

“MOM! C’MERE!” Fynn tromped inside, slammed his head on the door frame in his haste, cursed as the wood split around his forehead, and ran for the living room. “QUICK, QUICK!”

Jolting off of her butt, Libby ran. She dashed out of the room, at full speed but with a sense of slowness, feeling every inch of the passage between the kitchen, the hallway, and the small living room at the side of the house. She had time to carefully inspect the side table in the hallway, the bland painting of the bird hanging on the wall, the stupid woollen carpet she usually tripped on, and the goosebumps rising on her skin. The bumps seemed to appear more quickly than everything else, and her heart thudded, hoping, hoping.

The man she found laying on the couch in the living room, when she finally got there, was not her husband. But he was pretty damned close.

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