Happy #FlashFictionFriday, everyone! This is a piece for my Valley of the Faun collection. I hope you like it.
Ever since I can remember, my father has loved to fix things. He may complain and throw a fit when something breaks, but, deep down, I know he’s thrilled. It’s even better when something has broken so resolutely that he has to buy some new specialty tool to be able to fix it.
Of course, there’s only so much fixing one person can do before they run out of projects. When this happened to my father, he didn’t wait patiently for something to break so that he could fix it.
Instead, he started breaking things.
It started out simple enough, he “accidentally” tore the roof off of my dollhouse while I was playing with it and then promptly fixed it, making several upgrades along the way. He took a sledgehammer to my rocking chair. Luckily, I wasn’t sitting in it at the time.
It started out simple enough.
Eventually, he got tired of simple handyman tasks and wanted to fix something bigger. That’s when things started to get complicated.
He dropped a cherry bomb into the engine block of my first car. I was late for school, but, when he was done, it ran smoother than any teenager’s beater had any right to.
I’m not too proud to say that he tried to break me. He tore me apart with harsh words and unkind slaps so that he could build me up better, stronger. I am who I am today because of him.
He went too far, though, when he broke a hole in the fabric of space and time. I’m not entirely sure how he did it. I was away with my mom for the weekend. He’d broken their marriage, but she hadn’t let him fix it.
When I came back, there was a hole in the air in our garage. I almost drove my car into it because I didn’t see it at first. I thought I was looking into the garage as it was at that moment, but I was looking into it from a week ago.
I slammed on the breaks, stopping half in and half out of the garage.
What tipped me off that something was wrong was that I saw myself enter the garage wearing the same white, cotton, eyelet sundress that I wore for a date I lied to my father about. He thought I just felt like dressing up.
I must have screamed because my father came through the real door and saw week ago me driving away instead of coming home. He hollered, but past me didn’t react. There was a slight shimmer around the edges of the hole that my father must have noticed before I did.
He edged along the far side of the garage until he was standing beside now me. He scream-whispered for me to park my car on the street and close the garage.
I did, slipping inside the garage as the door lowered.
I watched my father scratch his chin and mumble incomprehensibly. I watched in horror as he grabbed a push broom and began poking it with the handle.
As he poked the rip in time, it stretched and leapt farther back. It now showed two months ago. I could tell because I was putting up the snow shovel for the season, content that I wouldn’t need it for several months.
My father swore under his breath and stabbed the rip with the handle of the broom. Lightening cracked inside the single car garage and the view shifted to somewhere in the woods. I watched a family hike by.
My father launched the broom at them like a javelin. He narrowly missed the youngest child’s head. The family turned around but didn’t seem to notice us watching them. Just the same, they hurried on their way.
My father went to his toolbox and pulled out a pair of clamps. He grabbed the edge of the rip, screamed in pain, and let it go again.
I wanted to run to him, but I couldn’t move my feet. I’d only been gone a few days and somehow my father was on the verge of destroying our lives.
He hollered for me to help him, but still I didn’t move. He turned around, tears streaming down his face, and ordered me to come over and help him.
Slowly, painfully, I moved one foot, and then the other. It felt like my feet were made of lead and my legs had somehow atrophied in the last couple of minutes.
When I was within grabbing distance, he leapt forward and grabbed me by the wrist. I resisted, but he was stronger.
I lost my balance and fell into the rip in space and time. I fell for what felt like hours, every second of it a higher degree of agony than the last. Just before I finally landed, hard, I begged for death’s sweet release.
I looked around and thought of a rhyme my father used to tell me.
The frightening part isn’t when you drop,
The scary part is when you stop.
I started to giggle, and then, the giggles turned to sobs. Shock had taken over and was washing over my like ice water. I had the distinct feeling that I wasn’t alone, that someone was watching me.
Slowly, I turned my head. At the edge of my vision was a creature that couldn’t be there. He was a man on top, strong and handsome, and a goat on the bottom, twisted and wrong.
I opened my mouth to scream, but he put his hands up and rushed at me. He put his sweaty hand to my mouth and pressed his cheek against my ear.
“Don’t make a sound, or they’ll get us both,” he hissed. “If you promise not to scream, I’ll take you with me.” Slowly, he took his hand away, and, when I didn’t scream, he hoisted me over his shoulder and ran away.
“I’m Spiaire by the way,” he hissed into my ear as we bounded through the trees. “I’m taking you to the witches, they’ll know what to do with you. After all, you’re one of theirs.”
I didn’t know what he meant, but I didn’t have much time to think about it before a half dozen of similar creatures broke through the trees, chasing us.
Spiaire spurred himself onward, nearly dropping me in the process. I heard a woman shout in front of us, behind me, and he cut to the left.
I squeezed my eyes shut, afraid of what I would see, and didn’t open them again until he set me down. I looked at him as he dropped to his knees. He turned me roughly around.
Before me stood the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. She looked at me, brow raised, and laughed.
She held out her hand and said, “Greeting, strange traveler. I am Tabitha, a fire witch. Who are you?”
“No one, just Emily,” I said.
She laughed. “No one is no one, everybody is somebody.”
“I’m not,” I said shaking my head.
“We shall see,” she said and she turned to go down a stone passageway.
I watched her go and wondered just who I was supposed to be.