This week’s short story comes from another character profile from my current work-in-progress. I hope you enjoy it!
Four More Years
“Will it hurt?”
Mae, plucking anxiously at her braid of raven hair, gazed up with glassy eyes to her mother, who sat beside her on her bed, the faded Frozen comforter crumpled up at the foot. She was getting a little old for such things, nearly a teenager already, but she had an attachment to one of the few things that belonged to her before her world changed. Before all our worlds changed.
“At first, yes. But when it’s over you’ll never have to worry about pain again. It will all get better.”
Watching this scene unfold before me broke my heart and betrayed everything I believed in. I couldn’t just stand by and let this happen. Not yet.
“Kelly, don’t do this,” I begged, pushing through the cracked door. “She’s not ready. She’s far too young.”
My ex-wife, startled at my intrusion, shot a wide-eyed warning at me. After kissing our daughter good night, she switched the lamp off, shut the black-out curtains, and joined me in the hallway.
“Don’t frighten her like that, Al. You’re only making it harder for us.” She pushed past me toward the kitchen, our special place when it comes to family arguments and soul-crushing relationship meltdowns. I took a seat first, knowing full well that if I remained standing, something in the kitchen would be shattered by the end of our conversation. I raked my fingers through my hair, the same shade of black as my daughter’s and greasy with several days of not showering.
“We’ve talked about this Kell. Over and over and over again. Were you really planning on doing this behind my back? And right under my nose, as if I wouldn’t find out?”
“We may have talked about it, but we never agreed on an age.” Kelly leaned back against the counter, which still held dusty appliances long since used. “They’ve already started enforcing the amendment, Alistair. And I’ve seen what they are doing to the remaining humans. How they’re loading them into trucks and shipping them off to the factories. It’s only a matter of time before they come for her. And then it will be too late.”
“Too late? Too late? Kelly, once we change her it will be too late. Do you really want her to be a child for eternity? Do you think that’s what she wants?”
“How much longer? Five years? Six years? She may not make it that long, Al. I can’t stand the thought of her being turned into a slab of meat. Her entire life reduced to a mere five minutes of enjoyment for one of our kind.”
“That will not happen. I’ll make sure of it.”
“I don’t want to lose her, Al,” Kelly whimpered. She turned away from me, leaning forward on the counter now—the move she always made when she was ready to end the conversation. But it’d been a long night. And I didn’t want to continue anymore either. It’s been a broken record these past nine years, neither of us coming to an agreement, but Kelly always conceding to give Mae just a little more time.
“I’ll stay here from now on. I’ll sleep on the old armchair in the basement. We’ll keep her home. I swear I won’t let anything happen to Mae.”
“Can you promise?” Kelly turned back to me, the whites of her eyes filling with tears and blending into her irises, as red as her ruffled hair.
“Just give her four more years. Four more years to be a little girl before she gets her first taste of blood. Then I’ll change her. She’ll be just like us.”