Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Double Line of Future Headache

The boy peeled the last part of the banana off and bit it halfway to the end. He threw the end into the dry waterway in front him.

“Hey, you shouldn’t throw that icky part like that!” the girl said. The girl was younger but she was clearly taller than him, even when they were sitting there.
“Shut up. It’s icky anyway. You said so. Who’d want to eat it anyway.”
“But you shouldn’t throw it around!” her voice sounded squeaky.
“Shut up. You are so, so, so stupid. No one cares if I throw it there.”

The girl was shocked. “You called me stupid. Mother said you should never call me that,” she said.
The boy smiled, finally getting even on her sister. “Mother also said you should never come to the waterway with me. I bet…” he suddenly stopped as he felt something soft on his neck. He jumped up and scurried around, frantically trying to get the thing away. When he saw that it was the banana, he relaxed. Astrid meanwhile was laughing very hard.

“You stupid! Stupid Astrid!” he said. He suddenly laughed, realizing the words rhymed. After he sombered, he then looked hardly at the ground. Suddenly a scoop of dirt jumped from the ground and flew straight to Astrid’s face. She ducked to the side but she wasn’t fast enough. Some dirt was caught in her hair, which she quickly flicked away. With a swipe of her hand, she retaliated and another scoop of dirt flew from the ground towards her brother’s face. The soil however stopped in mid-air, right in front of him. The boy smiled smugly. Astrid however didn’t stop. She closed her hands together, looked straight into her brother’s face. A dozen scoop of dirt flew from the ground, one after the other. The air was full of dust. But the boy was still smiling and his face was still clean.

“Shield. Serves you right for not paying attention to father. Always crying when he teaches...” he stopped short. A pile of dirt dropped on the back of his neck. He looked back at her sister and Astrid was showing her tongue. A scoop of dirt flew up again but this time Astrid didn’t dodge. It stopped right in front of her. “Shill. Serf you light fo not paying…” Astrid said with her tongue still sticking out.

Max tried the same trick by hitting from the back but her sister had her back covered too. Dirt was floating on her front and back as she jiggled and danced mockingly. This further enraged Max. He stared very hard at the ground that they seem to tremble. Finally, a big chunk of soil came out of the ground and hurtles through the air towards Astrid. The chunk shed a considerable amount as it hits the invisible barrier but a huge chunk of it still hangs in the air. It then withdrew back, before slamming against the barrier. Max kept repeating that and Astrid was about to give up when they heard the sound of a spray. They turned around and saw a small boy looking at them, a respiratory inhaler in his mouth. The floating soil dropped around Astrid and Max.

“erm, Astrid.Do you think we should bring him home?” Max asked.
“I think so. Last time Daddy got angry we didn’t bring Alex home earlier.”

The boy with the respirator spoke. “What are you guys playing?”


The boy’s name is Oliver. He lived three blocks away from their house. Max and Astrid’s new house. They invited the boy to their house and he agreed to come along. No one was at home.

“We’ll have to wait for dad,” said Astrid.
“Okay. I think I’m gonna get myself a soda,” said Max.
“Can you get me one too? And one for Ooo… Oliver too.”
“Alright,” Max voice came from the kitchen. It seems they have forgotten their recent fight.

Astrid looked at the boy. Oliver was very small. His skin was pallid and dry. His front teeth jutted out a bit while his eyes were slightly bulging. And he was always holding the inhaler, tightly in his hands as if they would roll away any moment. He was probably in kindergarten, Astrid thought. “Would you like to play a game, Oliver?” she asked.

“What game?”
“Well, we called it Scrapple. I don’t know what other people call it.”
“How do we play it?”
“It’s easier to play than explaining it, I think,” Max said as he came into the room. He gave a glass of soda to Astrid and Oliver each. He then searched one of the unopened boxes at the far end of the room and pulled out a box of Scrabble. It was just like a regular scrabble, except every player got a blue cube. On each person’s turn, the player will throw three tiles unto the blue cube, which magically will bounce the tiles. Naturally the person will aim them to be bounced unto the board. If anyone manages to form a word, the player gets a point. Most of the fun was in throwing the tile and avoiding from getting hit, so the children were still having fun although neither managed to form a word yet.

Their father arrived as they were playing. “Hullo there, who have we got here?”
“Hi dad,” they said.  Max continued, “This is Oliver. We met him at the, outside.”
“Why are you late Dad?” Astrid asked curiosly.
“My Car broke down,” he said, before adding hastily, “don’t tell your mum.”

“Your Car broke down, again?”
“Yeah, didn’t you just got it repaired it last month?” Astrid asked.
“I bet father experimented with it again, right father?”
His father just smiled. And winked. Max seeing their opportunity told about the incident at the waterway.

After a lot of finger pointing and names calling, the children finally finished their story. “I thought we told you to be careful. Your mom will be furious about this,” his father said, his face worried.
“But it was an accidenttt,” Astrid protested.
“You could have prevented this if you didn’t play with it, you know.”
“But it’s not fair! You could play with your Car,” Max said. “Yeah!” Astrid echoed.
“Okay, okay. It was an accident. Let me think for a moment please. The last time this thing happened, and I tried this, was five years ago. The reason last month we had to move was I wasn’t sure I could do it. Alex was older but I’m still not sure I can fix it this time.”

“Fix what?” said a voice from behind. They all jumped. When they turned around and saw Jack closing the door, they sighed a relief. “Can you please knock, next time?” father said.

“Why? What’s your secret? And where’s your Car, dad?”
“The boys blew their secret. Again,” said father.
“I’m not a boy,” Astrid chirped.
“Not again. Did a teacher see it too this time?” Jack asked.
“No, it’s that boy,” father said, pointing to Oliver who was captivated by the blue cube. By now, he has forgotten the scrabble and was throwing the cube itself that floated after bouncing.

“Him?” Jack asked. “He doesn’t even notice what we are talking about. Are you guys sure he saw you?”
So the children retold their story, with less quarrelling this time. After they finished, Jack looked at Oliver again. “Him? He seems harmless enough.”

“Quite right. What’s harmful about this boy?” said a voice from behind. “If it’s harmful, it should be you lot,” she laughed.
Their bodies froze when they heard mother’s voice. She was holding a grocery bag in her right hand and some files in her left.

“Jack, take this to the kitchen. There’s a lot more in the car trunk,” she said. “So, what is it about this boy? By the way, where’s your car Will?”

“I think you better sit down, honey.”
“And why is that?” she asked, her left eyebrow raised.
“It’s about the boys…”
“I’m not a boy!” Astrid said but was quickly silenced by the father and Max.
“What about them,” mother asked, still wary.
“Well, they did something. Something small. Only a small thing. And this boy saw them doin...”
“DO YOU WANT TO SAY SOMEONE SAW YOU DOING HOCUS AGAIN?” she said. Mother always refers to the abnormal things they can do as hocus. Especially when she’s mad. Her both eyebrows are raised then. “Maximillian! Astrid! Answer me!” Before they even could, she continued, “Do you know how much we spent moving around? Do you know how many forms I have to fill? It’s barely one month, and you guys did it again.  They still sent hate letter to our old address. And God knows how our old neighbour got our address and he is forwarding them here. And now this happens. I won’t be surprised if they’ll burn us on stake unless we move. We can barely scrape by and I don’t know if we can afford to move again. You children are really naughty, you should be grounded forever!”
“It’s not that bad honey,” father came to the rescue. “It’s just a small problem. The children just can’t help themselves, maybe ground them for a week or so, but I think we don’t need to move. We'll probably can solve this too.”

“That’s not fair,” Astrid spoke, “Father did some experiment too.”
They tried to silence her but it was too late. Mother’s eyes opened wide. “What did she said?” mother asked.
“Nothing dear.”
“What. Did. She. Said, William?”
“It’s the Car.”
“Don’t tell me you did something to the car again. Oh no. Oh no. Will, I thought you should know better,” she said. Finally she sat down. She lifted her head when she heard Jack coming into the room. “And you, young man. Don’t you go around doing your charm to every girl you meet. It’s barely a month and the cashier has already been asking why I didn’t bring my son along. I wouldn’t have that kind in my house!” she said. She then let her head slump back to her chest. Everybody was silent and didn’t say a word. Even Jack, who thought he was in the worst case, innocent.

Then their mother spoke in a very low voice. “It’s just that I’m very tired and all this and I was hoping that since there’s another new member of the family coming soon, I thought we…”
“What?!” father said. “Are you saying we’re getting a baby?”
“Really mother? Are you? Are you pregnant?” said Jack.
Mother’s face was covered with her hair, only the slight bobbing of it showed that she nodded. Father shrieked and hugged mother, followed by Jack. The children were a bit slow, however. “Boys, you are getting a baby!” father explained to them. They also screamed happily, that Astrid forgot to say she’s not a boy. Everyone hugged mother, clamouring, shouting of joy, promising to behave themselves and said lots of other things that one can’t hear what the other wanted to say. Slowly they became quiet in the end and happily gathered around mother.

Then they heard the sound of a spray. They all turned around and saw the forgotten Oliver, who looked back at them with his big eyes.

“Can I come back and play tomorrow?”

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