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Friday fiblet: Life Choices

“I never ashked to be here!!” she screamed, poking a ringed and spiked middle finger up at each of them.

The lisp was new, arising from her latest fashion statement, a split forked tongue, Emily had had each half pierced with little dumbbells, and they made a slight metallic clicking, not quite a ring, as she let loose a flood of incoherent abuse at her parents, She raged like a demon from some designer Hell, split nostrils flaring, purple dreadlocks twisting about chaotically from the smart elastic woven into them, facial tattoos running through color changes as her face heated up. Cyber-modded spittle flew wildly from her lips, trailing dramatic skeins of faux smoke.

This could go on for an hour, Adam knew. His daughter had had her endocrine system cranked for extra rage capability, or something – he couldn’t keep up with the routines of teen fashion. He’d never needed any enhancements in the rage and anger department himself, quite the opposite. What he felt now, though, was more like the ghost of anger: a dull throb beneath his eyes, a tense numbness to his tongue, a greasy cladding of despair chilling his muscles. His hands didn’t even know whether or how to clench any more, they twitched at the ends of his arms like futile spastic cuttlefish.

He closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them in mild surprise at the noise against the window. For lack of anything else to throw in the carefully stripped room, Emily had ripped her huge caltrop earrings loose, heavy chains and all, and flung them at the glass. That had taken some doing, her earlobes had been specially reinforced to carry those fist sized lumps of cast iron. He watched Emily frothing spastically back and forth between the walls, blood flinging out from the remains of her ears, working herself into a higher frenzy. He probed within himself for anger, for love, for anything besides weariness… and he came up empty.

He turned to Beatrice, managed to catch her downcast eyes. With her limply frizzled blonde hair and pale lips in a paler face, she looked even wearier than he felt. That was as normal for her as it was unusual for him, of course. Even for her, though, the dull hopelessness in her eyes was forlorn. She didn’t even flinch as he rasped hoarsely, “I think we have to admit it. You… we’ve failed again.” He didn’t even see a spark when he almost blamed her alone for the debacle. Her face held less life than a mildewed dishcloth as she simply nodded in resignation, in surrender.

He began to feel a flicker of resentful rage glow in him again, at Beatrice rather than Emily, for being so… so passive, bloodless. With a peculiar, forced kind of relief he fed the ember. “No, let’s be honest about it. YOU failed again! How the fuck is any kid going to grow up right with a goddamn mannequin for a mother?”

Yes, he was beginning to feel like he could breathe again. “You don’t give them any boundaries, nothing to, to get a grip on. You’re like a, a damned sponge!” His thick hairy fingers, seeming more suited to a butcher than a software designer, curled up into his palms. Over his shoulder he could hear Emily pounding her fists on the floor and hissing like a giant cat. It helped in a way, like background music.

Beatrice just dropped her eyes again and shook her head loosely. “No,” she whispered. “You were always too harsh. All they ever felt from you was anger, all they got was control. I tried to balance it out for them.” Was that a tear trickling into the lines under her eyes? Fuck her if it was, Adam decided. He was building up a good head of steam now, feeling the beginnings of creative flow. Fuck her, the useless porridge.

“Really worked out well, then, didn’t it? Carol drank cleaning fluid, Daniel shot up half his class before they got him. You think your passive bullshit didn’t…” Suddenly he was distracted by a thump, or rather the first of a series; Emily had tired of being ignored and was slamming her head against the glass wall between them. Bloody smears were starting to be left behind there. Fuck this, Adam thought, this has gone on way too long. I should have ended this years ago now. Time to start over.

“Control point!” he snapped. “Delete Emily. Execute!” Letters of fire appeared across the wall: YOU ARE ABOUT TO PERMANENTLY DELETE EMILY. ARE YOU SURE? “Yes! Execute.” he said firmly. He heard Beatrice gasp in pain, and shot her a look of hot annoyance as Emily vanished, along with all the blood she’d flung about so profligately. Beatrice had covered her face with her hands and her shoulders were shaking. On the spur of the moment he made the decision. It had to be Beatrice’s passivity that was fucking things up. If they were going to try for a fourth child…

“Control point, adjust Beatrice, assertiveness plus… fifteen percent. Execute.” ADJUSTMENT OF RUNNING PROGRAM REQUIRES REBOOT. REBOOT NOW? “Yes. Execute.” As Beatrice flickered out temporarily Adam, in spite of the fine flood of creative fury he was experiencing, found space in a quiet corner of his mind to wonder if he were really doing the right thing. Was it possible he was making the wrong decisions? Could the failures possibly have been in some small measure his own fault?

Maybe. He supposed anything was possible, but he decided once again to leave his own parameters untouched. There was no sense in making radical life choices too quickly.

~ by BT Murtagh on February 7, 2014.

fiblet, fiction, Writing