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Snippet #930

located in Life, a part of Almost an Allegory, one of the many universes on RPG.

Life

The container of experiences that a living creature goes through, whether asleep or awake.

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As I walk out of the bathroom, my bare feet sink into cool, gritty carpet. A picture hangs on the wall opposite me. In it are Edna, David, and some older boy. It occurs to me that I am probably wearing his pajamas.

Exiting the hall, the trip is shorter than I remember it being, and I round a corner to find Edna waiting for me with a teacup and saucer. Separated by a small dinette and two barstools, she stands in her kitchen, itself an extension of the living room where the theme of aging joy begrimes the floor tiles and counter backsplash, miniature pink tulips decorating the latter. Whether they are hand-painted or stenciled, I can’t tell, but the acrylic shimmers underneath the uneven light spilling from a milky glass fixture overhead. Taking the shadows into account, the ceiling looks like the blurry projection of an Iron Cross. As for my host, she is wearing a terrycloth robe and lines of unease, doubtlessly reconsidering her offer. Despite this, the porcelain in her grasp is not trembling with the obnoxious indictment of insecurity. Poor though she may be, this symbolizes an enviable confidence.

It starts rattling as soon she releases it to me.

“Thank you,” I say, grateful my words are as bleary as my eyes. Shutting them, I lift the tea and deeply inhale its therapeutic curls of steam. Lack of familiarity with the scent becomes a refuge of inquisitiveness—a silly distraction to ponder while ignoring Edna’s inspection.

“You’re welcome,” she finally speaks, her tone difficult to read.

Pausing for a sip, I add, “For the pajamas, too,” doing my best to seem content as a stray pulled out of the rain ought, even managing to coerce a half-smile to my face along with some pretense of humanity.

She nods, matter-of-fact, and looks beyond me and into the living room, where David is. Following her, I see the sofa is now a bed, complete with plain sheets and pillows. The shadow of the frame, dominating the bulk of the room, obscures my tread marks across the carpet.

“Sorry about that.”

She ignores me, and calls out, “David, go to bed.”

“I am in bed,” he counters, and I detect a quaver of frustration in his voice. His manner isn’t rebellious, but entreating.

“Sable is sleeping there tonight. We discussed this.”

“The floor is fine,” I offer, but she gives me a glance that tells me no guest in her home, small as it may be—as is obvious by the fact that David’s sleeping quarters are apparently a fold-out in the living room—will be sleeping on the floor.

“I’m not a baby, and it is big enough,” David insists. Now he tinges it with aggression.

This kid must have very few friends, and is willing to take advantage of whatever he can get. As for me, it really doesn’t matter, so I try to make light of the situation, and joke, “Is he harmless?”

“Are you?” she looks me in the eyes and says, not snapping defensively as expected, but with a measure of delicate concern.

Holding a stare is not my forte, and I avert mine to the specs of debris floating near the bottom of my cup. No, only my intentions are harmless, otherwise I am an impotent, insipid child whose selfish negligence is as lethal as any killer. A shrug is my answer, but, reflecting on its insufficiency, I force out, “Nobody should have to suffer.”

In response, she takes cup from me, washes it, and turns out the lights. On her way to her own room, I hear her say, “Good night, boys.”

Standing there in the dark, I have no idea what to do. No, I know what to do—sleep. Sleep like the dead.

“Lay down, Creepy,” David chides, and I hear his fist thump the pillow beside him.