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“I’m sowwie!!” he bawled, drowning out the trainer video. “I’m sowwie I just wann’ed some hunnie’ and I went to get it but I couldn’t get it open and I tried to open it and it wen’ everywhere and I’m sowwieeeeeeee!!!....” It ended in a hunniesyruped blubber and rubbing of the face. Aerope staggered over to him. (Good God, did running always make her this sore?)

“Shh, shh,” she said gently, “don’t cry. I’m not mad. Don’t cry.” Awkwardly she patted his ribs, since it was one of the few places that wasn’t hunniesyrup-covered.

He bawled harder. “I’m sowwieeeeeeee!!!” His face started turning red from all the pressure in his bloodstream. Aerope took his hand with a grimace.

“Come on,” she said. She dragged her wailing child up the spiraled staircase to the upstairs bathroom. There she stripped off his clothes and piled him into the autowash. He was still screaming.

Wearily she woke the appliance’s touchscreen and selected “Eryx>>wash and dry>>all over.” Anything to note? Yes, “hunniesyrup.” Would she like to clean the kitchen as well?


“Eryx,” she whispered, “I need you to tell me something. Where did you open the hunnie’?”

He stuttered out something that sort of sounded like kitchen.

She returned to the touchscreen and said yes, she would like the kitchen cleaned as well. It informed her that a hydrobot had been deployed and would take care of the mess shortly. She didn’t bother to thank it.

Eryx was still screaming.

Rubbing her temples, Aerope walked over to the bathroom’s dispenser. She needed to replace it; it was the only thing left in the house that still used physical buttons. The pill options were limited because of it--good for when you didn’t want a son accidentally requesting euth pills--but it also meant that an accidental bump against it would leave you with a useless pill and a needless bill to your bank account. At least it had a button for dreambars.

There was a sick, tight little feeling in her gut. Ignore it. No need to be worried. Parents do this all the time. There’s nothing wrong with it.

It was still there.

She pressed the dreambar button. A rainbow package with a goofy sleeping cartoon cloud on it tumbled into the pickup tray. Big, fluffy letters spelled out “Dream Bar,” in case the wrapper was somehow unclear. Aerope retrieved it, tore it open, took it to her son.

“Eryx, I have something for you.”

He pried one eye open.

She swallowed. “It’s a candy bar. You want some?”

Both eyes opened and stared at it. Then his mouth opened. She quickly stuffed it in.

“Is it good, sweetie?”

He grinned and nodded. She’d heard it was sweet. Somehow, that just made her feel sicker. She forced the sensation away and said, “Here, have more.”

In two minutes flat he’d wolfed the whole thing. Thirty seconds later he was fast asleep. After staring at his intensely peaceful face, Aerope stood up shakily. Tremors ran through the muscles in her body.

He’s probably happier now, she told herself. Not screaming or crying or being fearful. Just bliss. She told herself that she really believed it.

Funny how hard it is to lie to yourself.

Submitted: February 16, 2013

© Copyright 2022 Iskah E Shirah. All rights reserved.


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