As the sun rose that morning, Coralina was delighted. She was doing summersaults, her broken arm spinning around with her body, and singing. It seemed like nothing could damper a child’s mood. Her sister Beth was quietly watching her.
“Daddy? Coralina seems way too happy.” Beth said, looking nervously at her dad.
He still had a frightened look in his eye, and he nearly jumped when she spoke. “I know.” He said, with a soft breathiness. It was like that hum, that static electricity sound had never left. He was terrorized. He was frightened, he was terror itself. His hands were literally trembling as he was trying to turn on the stove to make food.
But he had this sudden thought, what if he turned the switch on their electric stove and something caught on fire. What if he was trying to cook the eggs, a towel caught on fire, then the house?
He reached for the knob on the stove and then hesitated and put his hand back by his side and he turned to stare at his two daughters. Coralina did another summersault. His whole body shuddered with fright.
“Coralina quit horsing around. It’s dangerous.” He said, his voice cracking with terror. He turned back to turn on the stove again, but his hand he couldn’t seem to will to do it. How could he turn on the stove, when he wasn’t sure if it would kill them? Finally he told everyone to come eat cereal. That was the best he could do, feed them cereal. It was too terrifying to do anything else. Kelly was on the phone, and he could hear her frantically speaking, “Can’t you please take the girls today? Please mama?”
There was a long pause, while he carefully and gingerly got out a bowl. He was worried it might shatter, and he longed to have a plastic bowl instead of one of the sharp, dangerous ceramic ones. He carried it to the table delicately.
“Mom, please.” Said Kelly, her voice sounded anxious and frantic.
He carefully set the bowl on the table, and then he went and got another one. Carefully he carried it also to the table. He imagined he would trip, and the bowl would shatter and impale his jugular. Or worse… His children.
“Hi, Karen? Is there any chance you can take my girls today. We’ve had a bit of an emergency situation come up… And I know we are very close but… Oh. Okay I understand. No… I’m sure will be fine. Thanks.” Kelly hung up the phone. She sat scrolling through contracts.
He went to the drawer and he got two spoons out, one for each daughter. The more he looked at them the more uncomfortable he felt. They seemed dangerous, inherently so. As if they were the perfect kind of weapon to torture someone for a very long time.
Maybe he could find one of those toddler’s spoons… The plastic ones with the oddly long handle.
He realized he was starting to sweat.
“Hi Molly I know we haven’t spoke in… Okay.” And Kelly hung up. “Fuck. I can’t find anyone to take the girls. I don’t know what to do with them.”
“We can’t leave them with someone! They’ll get killed.” Mark said his eyes narrowing on his wife. “Why did we never baby proof this house! Coralina is doing summersaults, and we have the stupid ceramic bowls. It’s ridiculous.” And he took the milk jug and he thumped it on the table.
The loud thump of the milk jug made all of the silverware and bowls rattle. Mark instinctively ducked under the table. He wasn’t going to let it get his jugular.
“You are in the middle of the fear stage. It’s not as real as it seems.” Said Kelly. As she scrolled her contacts again. But the truth was they didn’t have very many friends. It was slowly becoming evident to Kelly that she was going to have to take the girls with them… Take them with. Hey girls, want to go kill a witch.
What a family outing.
She wished desperately Mark was himself, but he was clearly starting to lose his mind. He would chicken out even starting the car at this point. Her fingertips pressed into her skull as she tried to get the panic to settle.