Okay, this instalment is 178 words long. I apologise. But it’s time to wrap it up, new month tomorrow and all…
Part XXVI: All Grown Up
Tom and Ginny. I can totally see them together. He must be lonely. I know Ginny is, she almost said it to me once – underneath all the preaching, she’s only human. They’ll have obstacles to overcome, but they have two things in common now. I bet they can make it three or more – I’d like a handful of siblings.
‘I think you’ll like Ginny.’
We have breakfast. He tells me I’m spoiling my coffee by putting lots of milk in it.
‘Rebellion,’ I reply. ‘Part of growing up, I hear.’
He smiles. It already feels as if we did this every morning.
I ran away from my people to find out who I am. I still don’t know, but I’ve got closer. If I’m honest, though, I won’t find all the answers here. I’m as much a product of the research facility as I am of the Sheep Flockers’ camp. Once they are here, I’ll find myself. Together, we might even find a way to stay alive.
Tom’s looking at me. I take a deep breath.
Part XXV: Morning Ritual
I wake up because of the smell. Or I think I’m awake but it’s like a little girl me morning, so maybe I’m dreaming. I follow the aroma. Tom is stirring something rattly in an iron skillet. He turns when he hears my bare feet padding on the wooden floor. For a moment, it seems it is a dream, but then his face from back then turns into his today face, the lines and angles coming into focus.
‘What’s that? I remember that smell’
‘I’m roasting coffee beans. Like every morning I’ve been here.’
‘Coffee? Ginny loves coffee.’
Part XXIV: Sleep
I like my real name. So much so that I don’t react.
‘You alright, Lucy?’
I give the tiniest of nods.
‘It’s all a bit much, isn’t it?’
Tom sounds as tired as I feel. I need sleep. The state I’m in, I can’t make a decision anymore. This is the rest of my life we’re talking about.
‘You have a bed for me?’
He laughs one of those joyless laughs.
‘A bed for you? I’ve so many beds, you can sleep in a new one more every night for weeks.’
I choose the top bunk next to his.
Part XXIII: Normal Person
‘Didn’t factor that in, did you?’
I shake my head. I don’t think it’s a smirk, it’s an expression of concern, actually. Lost for words, I wrap my arms around my knees.
‘I know what it’s like to have your big plan blow up in your face, with things staying the same but getting worse.’
Would it be worse? Isn’t that what I want, for people to treat me like a person? Someone to laugh with, shout at, lean on, comfort, be silly with, fall in love with. Life’s not much fun when you’re surrounded by people who revere you.
Sorry again for the delay – I hope I’ll get the next one ready before I leave for the National Flash Fiction Day events this afternoon. In the meantime, check out the prompts for the Write-In and send us your stories – pretty please!
I’m being let down by (still) non-existent broadband.
But there’s good news and I’m one of the editors of The Write-In for National Flash Fiction Day, so get flashing and send us your stories!
Part XXIII: How Did He Know?
I can’t even get worked up about the smirk that’s taking over his face.
‘You are going to save them. But it won’t be anything like they’ve imagined. Best expect they will be treating you like the second coming once they’re here.’
It hasn’t occurred to me. If they follow me here, and it’s a big if, they’ll have to face science. In other words, the source of all evil they wanted to run away from. Just like I decided to run away from them because I didn’t like what they have turned me into.
How did he know that?
Part XXII: Lukewarm Anger
His expression is unreadable.
‘It was my fault your parents left. I told Tim that you’re my daughter, even though I had no way of knowing. Mel really never said, no matter how hard I tried to induce her to make a statement. But I knew Tim was ready to leave, so I lied. I thought he would go alone. When I realised what he was doing, I tried to stop him. He was so angry he punched me.’
I’d like to pull of that enigmatic expression of his. I want to be angry, but I must be too exhausted.
Part XXI: A Use for Thunder
‘What’s your worst secret?’
The question hits me like a punch.
‘Tell me what you don’t want anyone to know about yourself. And I’ll tell you the same about myself.’
Now it’s me who falls silent. Not because I don’t know what to say. The answer, the secret that would mean he’d have to tell me his, pops into my head as soon as he says it. But it’s too awful to say out loud.
I wait for a crash of thunder.
‘I like being treated like I’m the answer to their prayers. But I hate that I like it.’
Part XX: Brace for Impact
I’m not ready for ugliness, I’d much rather play happy family for now. It seems the right thing to do, though.
Old before her time – it’s what Ginny, the leader of the people who raised me who I won’t call my people anymore, says about me. Up until now, I’ve never agreed with her. This decision to have the truth out, it suggests to me that Ginny may be right about me.
I wait. Tom hasn’t reacted, not even acknowledged what I’ve said. I’d better brace myself. Whatever it is he thinks he shouldn’t tell me, I need to know.
Part XIX: Ugly Truth
Silence. For so long I can hear a clock ticking. Outside, static’s crackling again. Getting no sleep last night is beginning to take its toll. I curl up on the sofa and wait for him to speak.
‘Because of you and me.’ Pause. ‘He didn’t want you to grow up asking questions.’
I’m wide awake again.
‘I was looking for a lie, but there were too many lies in this family then. I’d rather not continue the family tradition.’
A longer pause.
‘Let’s make a new one, then,’ I say. ‘We tell each other the truth, even if it’s ugly.’