|A House Divided
Author: Beppo PM
I know, I know, the title is cheesy, but it really fits the story somehow. Basically, a little kid has a non-argument with his mother. *Reviews please!*Rated: Fiction K - English - Angst - Words: 1,333 - Reviews: 1 - Published: 03-15-03 - id: 1257780
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's Note: I just kinda churned this out one night when I was feeling especially angsty. It's based on a true story, if you couldn't tell. It's one of those incongruous stories that is depressing, but my beta readers seemed to like it anyway. So…whatta you think? That is, *cough cough* review, please!
A House Divided
He had been excited about the evening. Going to dinner at a restaurant, and then shopping . . . really, he could take or leave the shopping, but it was only for the evening, and he was excited anyway. That is, he was excited, until he came to the realization that it was his fault. All of it. Everything was his fault.
He had been dutifully trotting behind his mother and sister, going into a clothing store, and then a shoe store, and then one that sold candles. He cast a longing glance at the comic book store. Never, not in a million years. His mother hated comic books.
She turned back to glance at him. "Toby, we're going soon. Do you need to use the bathroom?"
He shook his head silently. He was, by nature, a quiet little boy, quite a bit quieter than his mother's genes could account for. He looked desperately around the mall. "I'll be in the bookstore until you come back."
His mother nodded briskly, and then left with his sister. He went into the store. He had six dollars in his pocket, he could feel them, and in a bookstore he would only be able to afford something on sale.
He looked through the boxes of one-dollar calendars, finding a few he might be interested in, if only for the pictures. There was one of Dragonball Z, his favorite cartoon, and also one of Star Trek, which he liked mostly for the aliens. He examined the outside of the box once more. Yes, all one dollar. That meant . . . he had four left.
He wandered over to the bargain book rack. There were cookbooks, and some about raising dogs, and an address book with flowers on it . . .
And below them all, wedged between books of poetry, was a Quest book. He lightly ran a finger along its spine, afraid it would vanish. Quest, alone with the bargain books. Someone in the bookstore, he thought derisively, had no idea what they were doing.
He pulled it out from the shelf reverently. Wizard's Quest was the first comic book he had ever read, and it was still his favorite. Elves, humans, sword fights, horses, magic . . . it had everything. He had bought a few issues in the past, when his mother hadn't been paying attention, and he had borrowed a few more from the library.
But this book was different, one he had heard of from the collectors he knew. It was a collection of the earliest ones, impossible to find. Expensive online, and unavailable in stores and catalogs . . . and here it was, sitting in front of him, in all of its full-color, glossy pages, cover inserts, shining-maroon-hardcover glory.
He absently stroked sword on the front as he looked for a price. Turning it over, he felt his excitement dim somewhat. $8.99, more than he had. Three dollars, he only needed three dollars.
He put it back on the shelf and walked slowly through the store, occasionally pausing as he pretended to look at something. In reality, he was thinking hard. His sister had gotten a much more expensive meal at the restaurant, he knew, and then later had insisted upon buying a pillow at one of the specialty shops they had visited. He felt his muscles tense in excitement. Perhaps he could still convince his mother to loan him three dollars. If he didn't get the calendars, so be it, they paled in comparison to Wizard's Quest anyway.
His mother had returned. "Toby," she demanded, "are you ready?"
He froze. "I . . . found . . . "
Her attention had wandered. "What?"
He stumbled on. "A couple calendars . . . and a book . . ."
She shrugged. "So, go get them."
He didn't move. "I need some money . . ."
Her stare heightened in intensity until it was officially a glare. "How much?"
He shrugged, squirming under her gaze. "Maybe . . . three dollars?" He gave his most winning expression.
"What are you getting?"
He suddenly felt queasy, enough so that he was worried about throwing up on the store's blue carpet. He shuffled his feet, sighed, and led his mother to the rack of bargain books. He pulled it off of the shelf and held it up. "It's a Wizard's Quest book," he explained.
She stared blankly. "A what?"
He fumbled in his eagerness to explain. "Quest. It's like," he cringed, "a comic book." In its defense, he opened it to a page in the middle that he had seen, elves dancing. He had gazed upon it in wonder when he had seen it. It was beautiful.
She sneered contemptuously at it. "You know how I feel about comic books: worthless wastes of time. You're not getting it."
He could feel something sliding in his stomach. Not, so much now, like he might get sick, but more of . . . hopelessness.
She didn't notice his shocked, pleading expression. "What did you say about calendars?"
He mentally shook himself. "I . . . right. Over here." He trudged to the box, pulling out the two he wanted that he had wedged in the front. "They're both a dollar."
Pinching her lips tightly together, she handed him two bills and some change, and then walked with him to the register. He shyly handed the calendars to the cashier, and waited patiently while she rang them up for him and handed him the bag.
As they walked to the door, his mother coughed deliberately. He looked at her. Her expression was one of studied callousness. "I didn't see that second calendar before you got it." Her voice rose very slightly. "I was under the impression they were both Star Trek."
He could feel his muscles tighten involuntarily, defensively. All you would have had to do is ask. He had forgotten, of course, that another item on the list of things his mother didn't like was Dragonball Z, as she didn't like any of his anime or manga interests. She disapproved, on the grounds that they were just imported comics.
He remained silent, dropping back behind her as they rejoined his sister at the front of the store. He forced his tortured mind to turn to something other than Quest, to not dwell on his failure. He couldn't help, though, letting his gaze sweep longingly over it, sitting alone on the rack. . . .
Perhaps he could try again. He could convince her, he was sure, if only she would listen! It had its merits, as did everything. If she would only look through it, read it, and see it through his eyes instead of through her own. . . .
He could hear (or maybe feel, he wasn't quite sure) something cracking somewhere. It seemed so loud to him, and he was amazed that she didn't hear it. It seemed as though she should, but once again she was oblivious to what was happening to him.
They were getting ahead of him, walking down the mall, until she stopped and turned around. For a split second, he thought maybe she had heard after all, maybe she had changed her mind . . .
Until she tapped her foot impatiently against the mall's tile floor. "Toby, we're going. Hurry up." She turned back around and strode briskly down the mall, chatting breezily with his sister, still clutching her pillow.
Suddenly feeling dangerously tranquil and detached, he followed.
A/N: What are you doing reading this author's note? You're wasting valuable time that could better be spent…reviewing! *confetti poppers and noismakers are heard in background*