In order to attain the guise of being well-adjusted, a child’s education must begin as it slides onto the birthing bed. A doctor will snip off its umbilical cord and swaddle it in a blanket-modesty and a mysticism surrounding the bellybutton. Two lessons in a single slice. After twenty-four hours in an industrial incubator (or more, depending on the mother’s propensity for alcohol or her child’s unique condition), the child switches hands from a baggy eyed nurse to its swollen feet mother and stubbled chin father-usually. In this modern era, we must always note the exceptions. The child could be handed to its two fathers, two mothers, or travel home with a parent flying solo, among countless other combinations. No matter whose care it falls into, however, it must be taught to wobble about, to lisp proficiently, and to use the toilet without making a dreadful mess all over the floor.
This is much more difficult than it sounds.
Watson Belue accepted the challenge with a boundless grin and a dwindling diaper budget. In the absence of anything even mildly resembling a relationship, what else was there to do? Surely no midnight escapades nor Saturday morning coffees adorned his weekends. His daughter’s eyes were his own, and her wings simply an extension of his love. With little else to strive for, he would teach her to take on the world.
Victory travels in small steps; little Elizabeth learned a lifetime with each forward stumble. To meet the ceiling, she first had to leave the floor. Her hopelessly creative mind floated a plethora of ideas, though some more appealing than others. Perhaps if she attached a lifejacket around her ankles, she’d drift gently out the window, through the trees, and down the lane towards the city. Dodging a crowd of dumbstruck patrons, she’d stop at the art museum, and admire a Monet before traipsing home to her befuddled father.
A quick survey of the room revealed that Elizabeth did not, as a matter of fact, live in a lifeboat, nor a well stocked fishing shack. She sighed and hoped she’d be a functional fae soon. Toddlerhood was awfully boring. She could hardly crawl out of her crib, let alone take a bus to the beach.
The spoken word offered a brief escape. Her aunt, Scarlett, often told colorful tales of close to home melodrama, historical tragedies, and aliens. One went as follows:
“So Dante and I were messing around, as usual,” began Scarlett, “and he said, ‘Let’s do it in another room.’ And I said, ‘What?’ because we were already naked and running fast towards round two, and what sort of weirdo wants to stop in the middle of things to run naked around the house trying to find a better place? I should’ve told him to leave right then, but he started grinning all wickedly, and said, ‘Okay, maybe for round three.’ I was very pleased with that, naturally, and we started getting all heavy and things were going dandy when-”
Elizabeth hiccuped uncomfortably. Scarlett hadn’t quite figured out Elizabeth’s advanced handle on language yet, but would soon enough.
“Dante said, ‘I think the doorknob just turned.’ I dove under the covers, and your grandpa walked in.”
She paused dramatically. Elizabeth blushed for her.
“And Dante just jumped up, buck-ass naked, stuck his tongue out at my dad, and my dad did the same right back at him! Weird ass vampire shit. Sorry about the swearing, hon, I’m still trying to figure out what the hell happened last night. I can hardly process it in my own head, let alone somebody else’s.
So then my dad left without another word. Dante crawled back on the bed, told me to get dressed, waited until I finished and then pulled me downstairs. ‘What the hell was that?’ I asked him, and he just shushed me. I had no idea what to do. I’d never felt so out of control. I followed him, because everything fogged up-I was walking through a cloud. He whirled me into Angus’s room. Have you met Angus? He’s not as unfriendly as he seems.”
Elizabeth shook her head numbly.
“This next part’s sort of rough,” said Scarlett. Her voice dropped to a whisper. “I just-” she sighed deeply “-I just didn’t know who else to tell.”
“But Dante just…he just grabbed my arm and sank his teeth in. Didn’t ask permission, didn’t even look me in the eye. He just chomped down and started sucking, and my eyes rolled up to the ceiling and my knees started rattling and I wanted to scream but I couldn’t and the ceiling fell closer and the floor came forward and Dante licked his lips and nodded his head and that was that. That was goodbye.”
Elizabeth, while only understanding a terrifying fraction of Scarlett’s ramblings, nodded sympathetically. Scarlett smiled down on her, blinking once and then twice in quick succession. Elizabeth cocked her head to the side. She was the sort of child who preferred to rationalize every bodily function before sputtering a mangled condolence. Scarlett could do little but smile down on the child’s illegible, car crashing together thoughts.
Only the failings of the child can distract from the catastrophes of the adult.
Scarlett’s nails tugged at the bite marks on her wrist. Her stomach churned; her blood boiled. “I think,” she gurgled, and set Elizabeth roughly on the floor, “I think I’m going to be sick.”
She barreled through Elizabeth’s door, tore down the stairs, and sprinted through the sparsely decorated dining room. Beneath the coils of her intestines and the question marks swirling in her stomach, a darker thought stirred from its grisly sleep.
She tried to shove it from her mind as she curled over the toilet. She tried to smash it through the paper shredder as she coughed and sputtered violent cries. She tried to bury it beside her grandfather as the vomit spewed. She tried to crush it like a dandelion beneath her heel, but as the water swirled down the drain, it only rose once more. “I couldn’t be…” she whispered. “I’m an adventurous woman-not an unfortunate one.”
Her knees knocked together as she crawled to her feet. Her stomach curdled once more, and she fell back to her knees, back over the toilet, and screaming under her breath, planted her tremblings hands under her trembling shoulders.
An hour and many a paper towel later, Scarlett finally stood. She wiped a trace of vomit from her chin and sighed. Her head was heavier than a freight train, and her heart doubly so. She looked to the toilet, then to her hand, and then back at the toilet again. Slowly, like an infidel confessing his alleged sin, the question bubbled up once more.
“Am I…” -she took a deep breath and bit her lip- “pregnant?”
“Are you crazy?”
“I’m perfectly sane, Chester!” said Daisy. “I just forgot something important in there.”
“I don’t like spending any more time with cowplants than I have to. The nasty suckers bit off my grandma’s knickers-traumatized me for life, that did. If I had my way, they’d be paying for my AA meetings.”
“Wow,” said Daisy. Sympathy never came easy for her, but she could flutter her eyelashes as desperately as the best of them. “I, um, didn’t know you attended AA?”
“Yeah,” said Chester roughly, “and I didn’t know your bathroom was more bleached than my ex’s-well, I probably shouldn’t use that kind of language around a lady. Never know if she’ll have the brains to keep it to herself.”
Pushing his crass manners and veiled bigotry into her mind’s dusty lockbox, Daisy searched her pocket for an invaluable trinket. She’d found the ring in a cracker jack box, but after three cans of gold spray paint, thought it looked nearly as authentic as a blonde Elvis impersonator. His money spoke louder than his words, and her desperation more than her conscience.
They were married by the end of the evening and out of the house by dawn.
As Daisy and Chester eloped through the night and Elizabeth dozed Scarlett’s woes away, an unusual ringing buzzed from Watson’s computer. He cocked his head to the side and frowned skeptically. “Nobody e-mails me,” he murmured. His detective novels, while considered the best of the dime store heap, rarely garnered as much fanmail as the local milkman.
It certainly wasn’t from Julia. He hadn’t heard a word from her since she’d handed him Elizabeth, silent and mournful, into his aching heart. Whatever, thought Watson bitterly. Fuck her.
Cautiously, Watson approached the computer. He held a steady hand in front of his face-if a tentacle burst through the monitor, he would flail slightly less helplessly than a fish on the chopping block. After squinting into the screen’s glowering depths for a few minutes, Watson gingerly sat down, scrolled towards the top of the page, and opened the e-mail.
You are a beanstalk in a battlefield, Mr. Watson. Tell me: have you ever prayed to God?
Mystery! Romance! Awkward appearances from my Simself!
The Echo-Friendly – “Same Mistakes”
A/N: Sorry about the length of this one! I want to focus more on Watson (and JOHN!!) in the next chapter, and didn’t want to shoehorn it in with this transitional chapter. I really wanted to cover Daisy and Scarlett’s happenings and introduce Elizabeth’s character before diving into the denouement of Watson’s arc and the framework for Elizabeth’s. It’s great to be writing again! Also sorry if this is really rusty, it’s been a bit wheezy getting back into the Belues again. Things will pick up a bunch more this next chapter! (JOHN!!!)
Hope to be seeing ya’ll more often from now on! I’ll be fairly sparse next week-it’s show week for my school’s production of Almost, Maine, and I’m so pumped to be onstage!-but will be updating much more regularly from now on.
ALSO 5000 POSTS WOOOO! I’ll try to do a chapter of bonus shots or an extra for it. 😀
“Speak English faster or I’ll feed you to the cowplant.”
Um, Panda? That’s your granddaughter you’re talking to, not some weirdo in parachute pants.