So, as a cautionary note, this tale remains in the throes of re-working although the small section presented here has seemed safe enough so far. This “spiritual destruction” story seems fated to end up at novella length, marking it for the literary graveyard of such masterpieces. Some stories just refuse to be constrained by the demands of the business!
The next “running story”, which is named Porcelain, should be ready to go next week. Thank you as always for reading!
She asked the question and received no answer.
“Is anybody listening?”
It was not the first time she had found herself asking questions to empty places on the ceiling. And, except for the time that her shitty brother had whispered, “Yes Anna, what troubles you?”, though the air vent between their rooms, she never received an answer. So, in that regard, this time was not any different. It was however the first time that she had really expected an answer, so the disappointment was poignant. After all, with a spell haphazardly cast, a dead puppy, fifteen stolen dollars and the fiery destruction of Tom Wilson’s garage on her soul, she figured that some kind of answer, albeit probably an angry and scolding one, would be forthcoming.
Nothing. Nothing at all happened and she just stared up into the darkness wishing that she did not have to get up in the morning. Get up and go downstairs, walk past her mother’s perfectly arranged living room, past the azaleas, into that gingham kitchen and the wonderful smells of french toast. That was an aroma she felt was a universal delight. Buttermilk, cinnamon and a little sugar, the edges of the bread caramelizing, an open jar of maple syrup daring you to dip your finger in. And of course, a big canister of powdered sugar with a silvery shaker top. It was so wonderful. And it would be horrible because Anna knew that tomorrow morning, no matter how good it smelled, she was going to be nauseous.
It would not be the cooking. Her mother, despite other flaws, was a marvelous cook. It was the soft steel of her father’s eyes that was going to do it. She sat down and he fluffed back his newspaper to peek over it and ask, “What’s the news baby blue?” It happened every morning exactly the same way. Rain, shine, weekday, weekend, holiday, it even happened the morning of his own mother’s funeral. It was just what was done. Half hearted, nonchalant answers would not cut it either. She had tried that at some point in what to her was the distant past of her early childhood. In actuality that had been just three years ago, when she had finally been old enough to think it was just a bit silly and boring to answer the same question every morning. And oh please on the baby blue nickname. That was not even funny as far as Anna was concerned. Apparently she had managed to get the umbilical cord wrapped around her throat on the way out of her mother, popping out into the world half-dead and with a blue face. Anna’s mother always tried to reassure her that despite the nickname her father really had been very concerned when she was born. It had really shaken him up and he uses humor like that to hide it. That was what her mother had told her. I bet, was what Anna thought of that explanation. Still, it was what he called her, was going to call her tomorrow morning. And then he would wait patiently, paper slightly folded and held against his arms. He would wait, no matter what she mumbled or how long it took, eyes locked on her until she looked him in the eye and answered intelligently and in clear, proper sentences. It was not necessarily an unkind look, just a questioning one. What she was up to that day? Or what she was thinking about? It always made her nervous, even when she had little or nothing to hide. And she was going to look into those eyes tomorrow and throw up. She just knew it.