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Put on your goggles and lab coats. It’s going to be messy! Tell me what you really think. Be as mean or as nice as you like, I’ve got thick skin (and an even thicker skull!)
“Can you see me now?” Brody spun around and around in circles as fast as his five year old legs could carry him. The dizzier he got the slower he spun, but his mother didn’t have the heart to tell him that.
“Barely,” Randi said. “You’re just a green blur now.”
Brody kept spinning, and his mom kept washing dishes. Spring sunlight streamed in through the window. The thin, watery light still had too much winter in it. Pools fell on the kitchen floor looking cold rather than warm and inviting. Brody didn’t seem to notice. “How about now?”
“Take a break before you make yourself sick,” Randi said. “I don’t want breakfast barf on my nice clean floors.”
Brody collapsed in the middle of the kitchen, his eyes rolling around to keep pace with the spinning room. “If I go fast enough, do you think I will disappear?”
“Anything is possible.”
Brody considered that for a second. His eyes slowly focussing on the ceiling. “Is that where Daddy went?”
“I don’t think so, sweetie. Daddy and I—”
“But you said!” Tears sprang up in Brody’s eyes and he sat up, glaring at her. “Anything is possible.”
“Almost anything, then.”
“If I spin fast enough I bet I’ll go ‘pop!’ and I’ll be in another kitchen just like this, except Daddy will be sitting there drinking coffee.”
“And what would you do then?”
Brody shrugged. “Bring him back to the kitchen with you in it.”
Tears stung her own eyes, then, and Randi excused herself to go to the bathroom. She still hadn’t figured out how to explain to Brody that his dad wasn’t comingback. Marc hadn’t wanted any of this: her, the house, their son. He’d tried, he said. But he’d never been able to be happy with this life they’d built. Marc had never been happy with anything, for almost as long as she’d known him. But Marc had made a decision, finally, after years of letting life happen to him by default. No more ambivalent stares, shrugged shoulders, and “I don’t knows.” He’d finally had enough of all of Randi’s unsatisfactory choices and made one for himself: “Goodbye.” And it was going to take more than spinning in circles to bring him back.
When Randi came back to the kitchen, Brody was at it again. “Can you still see me?”
“Who said that?” she teased. Brody’s giggles filled the kitchen and he spun faster and faster. Randi wiped her eyes on her dish towel and went back to the sink. Dishes still needed doing; that would never change. She sank her hands into the warm soapy water and stared outside at the slushy grey yard. Somewhere under all that dirty snow, grass roots were stirring. It was only a matter of time.
Brody spun like a heard of tiny elephants stampeding in circles. In never ceased to amaze Randi how much noise one little kid could make. But his giggling filled the house and soothed her as much as the ritual of dish washing. It’s going to be all right, she thought. Time heals all—
Brody’s laughter stopped so suddenly the Randi thought her eardrums had burst. The kitchen was completely silent. But she could still hear the faint crackling of bubbles from the dishwater. Not deaf, then. She turned around slowly. Brody was nowhere to be seen.
“Brody?”she called. Her eyes scanned the kitchen for all of his favourite hiding places. “Where did you go?”
She was met with uncanny silence. No house with a five year old had ever been so quiet. Randi’s heart beat faster in her chest. “Brody!”
She walked from the kitchen, down the hall. Soapy water trailed off her gloves and left a path of bubbles behind her. She checked the bathroom and bedrooms. Nothing. The living room was empty, too.
Had she really heard a popping noise? Had Brody somehow managed to disappear?Impossible. He must be hiding somewhere in the house.
Not knowing what to do, Randi put on a pot of coffee and sat down at the kitchen table to wait. She forgot all about the dishes and the dirty snow. Her ears seemed to yawn into the silence, sucking up any noise they could in the hopes that Brody would give himself away and prove that she wasn’t going crazy.
When the coffee beeped, Randi poured herself a cup, still wearing her dish gloves.Her first sip tasted like coffee and smelled like Citrus Burst detergent. She couldn’t bring herself to swallow. Randi set the coffee down and went back to the bathroom where she stared at herself in the mirror as if she might be able to see madness blooming in her own eyes. She looked tired. Afraid. But not particularly crazy.
Voices and giggling suddenly rushed in to fill the void. It was like someone had unmuted the television. Brody’s laughter floated down the hallway toward her, and there was another voice, too. Randi moved into the kitchen as if she were sleepwalking.
There at the kitchen table, drinking a cup of coffee, was Marc. Brody lay in the middle of the kitchen floor laughing so hard Randi was afraid he’d gone crazy. She crouched over him, scooped him up into her arms and hugged him so fiercely that Brody squealed and pushed her away. She let go and he sat up, grinning. “Told you I could do it,” he said.
Marc stared at them both with a bemused look on his face. Then he broke into a grin, too. Randi hadn’t seen him grin like that since they were first dating. She had fallen in love with that smile long before she’d ever seen the brooding glower that replaced it. She’d always suspected it was her fault, somehow, when the Marc she loved was consumed by the other, darker one. But now—
“I’ve missed you,” Marc said, smiling at Randi. “I feel like I’ve been away for a very long time.”
This piece was written for the #BlogBattle Stories flash fiction challenge. April’s theme was “Shift” at 1000 words or less. This piece is 1000 words, exactly! Check out the other submissions HERE! And, as always, let me know what you think. Thanks for reading!
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