A Cherub's Eyes

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A deranged father, a loving mother, and a child caught in the crossfire.

This story was written for school under the module, 'Literary Nightmares', and as such had strict criteria. Please take note that this story deals with some extremely dark themes, and is inappropriate for some viewers. Also take note please, I do not own any of the pictures used!

Submitted: January 21, 2019

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Submitted: January 21, 2019

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Cillian was awake before his alarm pierced the veils of his perpetual thoughts. Its shrill sound seemed to squeeze his lungs until his index finger came down against the button labelled 'cancel' with a precision refined over the past six months. He sat bolt upright; his body made of hard plastic, fastened together with hinges and bolts. 
Cillian had something very important to do; he'd been thinking about it all night.

He found his way to the kitchen, paused directly before the temperature controller, and proceeded to turn it up 5 degrees. Next, he went into the bathroom and twisted the taps in the bathtub as far as they would turn, before it felt like they would snap off.

As Cillian rose to leave, he came face to face with an obstinate man he knew both nothing and everything about. The man had a sunken appearance; gashes of purple; like blackened bruises, coloured underneath his eyes and in the hollows of his cheeks. His eyes were a little too blank; criss-crossed with red and white from one too many sleepless nights. The amber of his iris appeared more like a dull copper in the poor lighting.

"I'm having a brilliant hair day," Cillian muttered, tousling his locks gently, to better admire their shiny lustre. Next, he returned to the kitchen, and filled the kettle half way and set it back down; however, his finger remained firmly holding the lid open. He stared desolately down into his distorted reflection sloshing lazily from side to side. 
"Tea? Do I really feel like tea?" He questioned the silver kettle; the blue of his dressing gown dancing in its surface. He shook his head. The water sparkled and winked at him in a cheeky goodbye. The trivial decision seemed to weigh on him, and he began to suspect he made the wrong choice. He wiped a thin layer of beading sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand; it was already getting very hot in the empty house. 'Good' he thought to himself. He began to tap his foot lightly on the marble floor, the sound bouncing back at him.

Without warning, the doorbell's sickeningly sweet tune rang out, bringing vomit to the recesses of Cillian's mouth. It was like a lullaby in an octave too high. He marched to the door, but didn't open it. He thought critically to himself: 'Who might it be? Tracey from down the street with the foul smelling casserole? A psychopath with a chainsaw and a crooked smile? A policeman with the warrant for my arrest?' It didn't occur to Cillian, that there was no reason he would have caught the suspicion of the police just yet. He continued to wonder who it was, unsure about who he'd be most afraid of...the smell of Tracey's casserole alone made him ill; what would the sight of it do to him? He looked at his watch; 'it definitely isn't Louisa. That would make her an hour early.'

He was wrong.

"Cillian, open the Goddamn door, I know you're in there!" Louisa's voice was sharp and coloured with anger; he imagined it to be an unpleasant, deep tangerine, like an overripe blood orange. He contemplated opening the door as a million fragmented questions jockeyed for position at the front of his mind, the loudest being; 'Has she changed her hair, I wonder?'

A number of minutes passed in a mere three of Cillian's seconds.

Before he knew it, the door was open and there she was. A scowl in a red dress; metal keys clenched in one hand. She was the picture of beauty and grace. 
Cillian couldn't help but swoon. 
A small imposter with a mess of curls, a heavy bottom lip, and red cheeks, was tucked against her waist.

"Hello Louisa, darling, are you well?" he asked amiably. Somehow her scowl deepened. 
"You look like hell; what happened to you? —You know what, don't answer that; I don't want to hear your pathetic excuses," she hissed, stabbing the hand clenching the keys in the air with violent gestures. "This is your one chance, you useless piece of—" she stopped herself, casting a glance at the oblivious cherub in her arms, before continuing more calmly: "Don't screw this up, Cillian. I'll take him away for good; I'll make sure you never see him again." Her voice was black and red with palpable threat, yet it bounced off his resolve like a tennis ball off a racket. 
"Yes dear," he said compliantly, like he had so many times before. It earned him a seething look of what couldn't be conceived as anything but burning hatred.

As though a completely different woman, Louisa Carter, soon to be Louisa Johnson again, turned to the angel. Her eyes began to sparkle, her sneering lips became kind, and her cheeks became plump with the warmth of a mother's smile. 
"Now Stirling, you promise mummy you'll be a good boy," she cooed gently, before pressing her lips against his crown of ringlets. He reached one pudgy hand towards her, and after a few seconds of nonchalant indecision, chose to grasp firmly onto her pearl necklace.

As the mother and son shared their touching farewell, Cillian noticed that on Louisa's left hand, at the knuckle of her fourth finger, her skin tone was the same olive as the rest of her hand. He wondered how long she hadn't been wearing her wedding ring. He wondered if she'd notice he was still wearing his. 
She looked up, and for one split second, Cillian thought he saw an expression of guilt or regret flitter across her face; but when their eyes met, hers were shiny with a coat of distrust.

She shifted the child into his arms; it was warm against his chest. 
"Oh, I almost forgot" she muttered, delving deep into her leather handbag, and producing a roll of duct tape. 
'Pressure sensitive, waterproof, cloth backed, non-breathable tape' Cillian recited in his head. 'Should do the trick', he thought to himself. 
"You know, maybe if you'd spent less time on this handy-man bull, and more time on your family, things would be different," she snapped, thrusting it at him. "And for future reference; I'm not your slave. Next time you want something from the store, get it yourself." 
As soon as he took it, she turned on her heel; and as fast as she had come, she was gone.

The duo of man and baby waited silently as the Mercedes roared down the street with a screech of tyres and a cry from the engine.

"Just you and me now," Cillian said, more to himself than the child. "But don't fret; we have something fun to do. It's very important." 
The boy's round, vacant face, all blotchy and pink, stared blankly back at him. Stirling, at the ripe old age of one, had never known the extremity of the darkness that can lurk in the depths of a man's soul. He bubbled quietly at the mouth in response. 
"Yes, I rather agree," Cillian murmured.

The two wandered back down the corridor to the kitchen. Cillian sat the child and the tape on the spotless, white floor, and turned back to the empty kettle. Cillian checked his watch again, and began to busy himself in the kitchen; once again filling the kettle with water. He almost forgot the child was there. 
The cherub bobbed his head, and strung a number of incoherent syllables together. He began to squirm uncomfortably in the heat of the room. Cillian sighed, hopelessly. 
"I suppose we ought to get this over and done with; there's really nothing else we can do."

He fetched both the duct tape and the child in one swoop, and began picking his way to the bathroom. As they got closer, the impending rage of the water got louder.

As he walked, the child under his arm, he began to talk. "When you were first born, it was truly a miracle. You were a little angel; a cupid of love. You brought Louisa and I together." More quietly he added, "It's not like she had a choice I suppose...she couldn't take you away without my permission." 
He sighed, as they had come to stand at the door of the bathroom. Over the sound of the now flooding tub, he brought the child closer to him, so that it might hear the truth, and see reason in his actions: "But I'm afraid you're really not doing your job anymore; now you've just ruined everything, so I think you really ought to go now. It's what your mother used to want; now I want it too."

In a moment of purity, where reality seemed suspended in the air, waiting for a break from the water's wrath; waiting for a change of heart from a deeply damaged soul; the man cradled the angel in his arms. In the mirror of the cherub's glassy eyes, Cillian saw his warped reflection, and nodded firmly back at it. 
"It's for the best." 


© Copyright 2019 hjintrona. All rights reserved.

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