Reads: 182

Aerope was intensely grateful for her husband. The man made no less than twenty-thousand dollars a week where others made five; his family had settled in the center of the Dome an unknown number of generations before; and he was unrestrainedly generous. When she had asked him for permission to remodel the kitchen, he had handed her his credit card and whispered the PIN into her ear. When she had said that she didn’t like the carpet in the front hall, he had taken her carpet-shopping and the old one was unceremoniously taken away. (It was an old, beautiful family heirloom, but he made no comment on it.) And when she had insisted on getting another window in the living room, he brought men in the next day to knock down half the wall. It was before this window she now sat, on a sleek sofa that produced sweet tea at the tap of a touchscreen button. Her hair was up, her dress was cool black cotton, and her lips pinched in a pucker as she drank from her glass. Needs more sugar. She put the cup back in the preparation tray and instructed the sofa to add more sugar. It gladly complied.

A tiny form appeared on the distant green horizon, rapidly expanding in size with each second. It could be a Street-cleaner--no, its motions were fluidly human. It could be a neighbor--but adults never ran like that. They jogged, privately, in the comfortable prisons of their home gyms. Perhaps it was one of the neighbors’ children--only none of them had sparkling blonde hair like the enlarging form did. Aerope sighed and leaned back on the sofa. The only thing was to wait and see which son of her’s it was.

She remembered her tea.

The form was now big enough to vaguely discern. Aerope saw black denim, red hightops, and a big purple shirt with a Modernistic gray satchel flying behind.


Suddenly Aerope’s mouth twisted open in a soundless shriek. Good God! The boy had dark, glossy blood streaming down his chin. Elbows too, and where his jeans were torn open at the knees. The blood fell, drip, drip, drip, onto his shoes, leaving glistening maroon stains in memorandum. White laces flapped behind like broken kite strings. And--

He was laughing.

Aerope fainted, and the tea spilled all over her.

Submitted: January 28, 2013

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