Reads: 194

When she came to, Eryx had just reached the front walkway. Action had to be taken before he brought that mess of himself inside. Aerope leapt to her feet and wobbled on kitten heels to the door. (She wasn’t used to such tame shoes.) Flinging it open, she shouted, “Eryx McCovvich Twinntyne Jr., what in the name of all that’s holy have you done to yourself? Don’t you dare try to hug me, kid! What happened, huh?”

Eryx grinned affably, stretching his reddened mouth even farther. Aerope winced. With a rub of a tarmac-blackened hand against his bright hair, Eryx blinked his big rabbit-like eyes in the innocent fashion of children. (An appeal for mercy, his mother noted, vowing to grant no such thing.)

“Hi, Mommy,” he said brightly.

Aerope would not be distracted. “Well?” She absentmindedly tapped her left heel against the blue unglazed tile. “What happened?”

Eryx laughed. “I got in a fight.”

“Over what?”

“Nothing.”

Nothing? Nothing!? “Over Adeanaes hogging the arcade machine” she could handle, and “Because he called me Unreasoned” she could forgive--even “Because it looked like he looked at me funny” was permissible with sufficient grace. But “Nothing”? “Nothing”!?

Aerope’s temper snapped, and she began screaming at the boy.

“For Chrissake, Eryx! What’s wrong with you? You can’t just go willy-nilly fighting boys and ruining your clothes. It’s not proper.”

“I’m not proper!” he squealed back gleefully. It sounded more like “prerper.”

“Well you should be!” she spat, seizing his wrist. “Nearly six and still doing this. God, what did I do to deserve a son like you.” She dragged him across the stepping-stone path, around the house to the tiny back yard. “Why can’t you act more like Periscus?”

“I don’t know,” he said, in the suddenly ashaméd way of boys his age. “I’m sorry, Mommy.” He looked up hopefully, but Aerope angrily activated the spicket with a vicious attack to its operating touchscreen. He looked down again.

Aerope stepped back from the stream of water. “Wash yourself off and then stay here while I get a towel,” she said coldly.

He timidly approached the water like it was an extension of his mother’s wrath, and then faced briefly the woman herself. “I love you, Mommy,” he said cutely.

“Whatever.”

Her kitten heels click-click-clicked away in retreat around to the front of the house again. Suddenly there was a scuff, a sharp hiss of pain, a “Damn!” ground through clenched teeth, and then a click-thump, click-thump, click-thump. Eryx turned from the spicket to see his mother clear the house with a shoe in one hand and a nasty scrape on the bare foot’s underside.

Perhaps it would be better for women in heels to not venture out of doors.

Aerope pushed the mahogany front door open and reentered the house, taking care not to drag the torn sole of her foot across the carpeted entryway. Wincingly she limped to the downstairs bathroom where she awoke the first aid machine, put her foot in the appropriate hole, and selected the “foot>>bottom” and “nasty scrape” options on the touchscreen before hitting enter and sitting back as the machine washed, dried, medicated, and bandaged the wound. She briefly considered adding a foot massage--it was tempting, for the tiny heels made her feet ache--but, remembering the water bill accumulating outside, resisted. It was maddening how quickly bills for water, air, food delivery, Network maintenance, and basic electricity could rise, and those were just the essentials. Factor in conditioning for the air, flavors in the water, custom food purchases, nonessential Network use, and dozens of extra electrically powered niceties scattered all over the house, and it was no wonder why everyone let the Council run the city. After all, having everything in common certainly lightened one’s load of responsibility.

Aerope realized that she’d forgotten to select “economic” on the first aid’s touchscreen. That would add another two dollars to an already ten-dollar bill. Her husband always insisted that they weren’t poor, that they could use the more expensive functions without worry, but Aerope still would choose to be “economic” when she remembered to catch herself. It was an old habit that wouldn’t die, one of thousands of tiny vestiges from her prenuptial life. She hadn’t decided whether economic tendencies needed to martyr upon the chopping block of self-improvement.

The first aid machine chirped out a pleasant ding and released her foot. Testing gingerly her weight on it, she limped a clip-thump, clip-thump, clip-thump path to the linen dispenser. The thing’s touchscreen was told to get a towel, and one none too soft; a few seconds later, out dropped a rather rough red beach towel. Once, Eryx had told the dispenser to give him all of the towels, which he promptly dropped down the return chute. Aerope’s husband, even after he negotiated, still had forked over three hundred dollars to cover the boy’s little stunt. Those three hundred could have gone towards a motorbike for Periscus, Aerope had secretly thought at the time.

She went outside with the towel.


Submitted: January 29, 2013

© Copyright 2022 Iskah E Shirah. All rights reserved.

Chapters

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:


Facebook Comments

Other Content by Iskah E Shirah