Reads: 223

Periscus was in his room, angrily changing out of his education uniform. He threw his navy tie onto the bed, and then his navy coat, and then his white shirt. Aerope stepped in quietly. Her son stiffened before setting to work on his belt.

“Please go away,” he said coldy.

“Periscus...” She sighed his name, as if she was breathing out all the energy left in her. “Please try to understand.”

“What, that you gave my brother sedatives five times stronger than he’s used to? That you did it and you don’t even feel bad about it?”

“That is a lie!” Her voice hiccupped slightly on the end. Her eyes stung with frustrated tears. “I felt like I was going to throw up.”

“And yet you still did it.”

“Y-...yes.”

“Exactly.” He pulled his belt off and threw it on the bed. His shoulders were tensed still.

“He was screaming, what was I supposed to do?” Her voice, like her tears, trembled, on the verge of breaking.

He sat on the bed. “Tranquilize him. Same as you always do when hysterics hit.” He started working his shoes off.

“He was flailing around--...” She steadied herself on the doorframe. “He was more hysterical than usual.”

“How so?” (Still cold.)

“He couldn’t calm down. I could tell he couldn’t.”

Normally Eryx could settle himself somewhat before they sedated him.

“Doesn’t make a difference,” Periscus said.

“I gave him the bar because I thought, hell, if I’m gonna knock my kid out, at least I can spare him a needle.”

“He does okay with them now.”

“Those things send him to Bliss. The sedation would just knock him out.”

Periscus’s head snapped up and his green eyes burned.

“That,” he hissed, “is a lie, and you know it.”

She stared back at him until her eyes ached, but he was right. They both knew it from experience.

“Fine,” she said finally, “I know it. I know dreambars are bull, but guess what: I gave it to him anyways. And now maybe he’ll sleep through the night.”

Periscus threw his shoes across the room. They missed the shoe rack by a foot.

“He’s only had issues sleeping since you put us in separate rooms.”

“What am I supposed to do, tell my friends that my sons don’t have their own rooms?” She laughed meanly.

“If it means my brother gets his eight hours...” He shrugged. “Then yes.”

“He was fine with the move,” she said defensively.

“That’s ‘cause you were pushing so hard for it,” he shot back. “He’s always trying to do things right so you’ll be happy with him. Why can’t you ever tell him he’s done something right? Why you always cut him down, huh?”

She flushed slightly. “Periscus Zhehms, I am as gracious as I can be with your Manic-Hysteric brother! What more do you want me to do?”

They broke apart--metaphorically speaking--and circled each other--metaphorically speaking--and tested their wasted energy reserves while looking for an opening in the other’s brass plating. Periscus had gone from velvet red to sickly white, as he always did after a bout of frustration. Aerope’s eyes had sudden cobalt around them, like she had been punched. Her painted red lips trembled. His orangey hair tumbled in ragged snips over his eyes. At last she broke away. Stepping out, she said over her shoulder, “At least he’ll get his full eight tonight.”

She heard her son mutter, “It doesn’t count.”

Her head suddenly hurt, and she went to get a caffeine pill. Without thinking, she wallowing it dry. It scraped her throat all the way down. Then she went downstairs, collapsed in a miserable heap on the sofa, tried to interest herself in the latest episode of Lonely Men without success. Dammit. And that’s what the show club would be talking about that night.

She closed her stinging eyes. Maybe I can sleep for a half hour...
 


Submitted: February 16, 2013

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