Misshapen

For Round 7 of our contest, we asked you to send us original works of fiction that have a character come to town and someone leave town.

Fallen tea cup. i
iStockphoto.com
Fallen tea cup.
iStockphoto.com

"Please don't say that," Mommy pleaded. "You know it hurts my feelings."

Contrary to her tone, she held a fixed smile that spoke to a larger contentment. Her skin appeared almost bloodless, virgin. One might say she never looked better.

"I'll say what I want."

Daddy, on the other hand, had seen prouder days. His words slurred from slanted lips, twisted in a disapproving grimace beneath a crooked eye. His white gloves gave him the appearance of a performing musician; his bald head gave off a dull sheen. Had he remembered his hat, perhaps he would have been in a better mood.

"I think I should go."

"Maybe you should."

Following his cue, he swatted a tea cup onto the ground.

Cassie sat in between the sparring couple, who seemed to pay her no mind. She moved her head back-and-forth, oscillating between scowls and furrows, tight-lips and slack-eyes, giving them a life they otherwise failed to demonstrate. She paused to get the timing right.

"What about Cass?"

"What about her?"

They looked at her in unison before turning back toward each other.

At this point, Cassie would, if asked, direct them to say, "I love you." Then, Daddy would playfully touch Mommy's arm and she would flash her secret smile. She thought it would be so easy for them to just say, "I'm sorry," and go back to before. But she felt like they forgot. After an endless moment, he spoke.

"Fine. I'll go."

He began to hop away until she interrupted.

"No, please don't go."

He turned back.

"I want you to stay."

He stared out from his good eye, the other being an unsightly black hole, and held her gaze, unable to say the right words, before swiveling and hopping to the edge of the table where a black convertible awaited.

After a few running starts, he flew clear over the city of little blue people with funny white hats, soared over the village of fuzzy bears with varying emblems on their chests and landed in the town of Bedrock.

From the land of blue people, the resident female turned her head from the flying spectacle to the abandoned figure on the table. She took a few valiant hops then made the magnificent jump upward into the land of Shortcake. She approached Mommy and buried into her chest.

"It's OK, Mommy. Please don't cry."

She heard her name barked, reverberating through corridors like a solitary drunk. It came again, followed by impatient footsteps.

"Cassie! Did you hear me?"

Cassie met her mother's eyes with a detached expression.

"Come on! We're gonna be late. Did you brush your teeth?"

She shook her head, still maintaining pursed lips.

"Well come on! We gotta go."

Cassie continued to stare, still lost in a world of tea cups and blank expressions.

"NOW!"

She sat herself up from a seated position and jogged past her mother, whose eyes followed her for a moment before turning back to her daughter's room.

She noted the bed, tucked and smoothed. In her play-corner, she saw the two figures, a beauty queen and a Martian, embraced. She saw the toy tea cup on the floor and her skin momentarily iced over. Her head perspired like the initial signs of a hangover, and she immediately longed to hold her daughter.

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