Content warning: racism, including racial slurs. I brought Annie to my math-racist’s because I’d stolen a laptop from the Syndicate. I’d stirred the vipers’ nest. Their reach was long, and I didn’t have anywhere to take her. Last year, they’d killed Annie’s mother—a trained policewoman—using crooked cops from our own precinct. So Annie went where … Continue reading DP FICTION #66A: “Finding the Center” by Andrew K Hoe
I freeze time. The frothing soap suds in the sink become glaciers. Dust motes hang in the air like stars. And I move.
I catch Sadie’s plate of mac n’ cheese before it splatters to the floor. While I’m there, I wipe down the table, fix Sadie’s pigtails, then — what the heck — I run downstairs and start a load of laundry.
Then I’m at the kitchen sink, water streaming, motes spinning, and Sadie’s three-year-old voice bubbling merrily on. “— I so happy to go to my Nana’s house!”
“Me too, sweet pea.”
The baby’s crying woke me from dead slumber. My heart pounded, but I didn’t move. I dreaded holding my baby. Guilt, it seems, overpowers fear. I draped my feet over the edge of the bed to search for slippers.
The screaming reached pitches no human throat should emit. I winced, accidently brushing Sean’s sleeping shoulder. He’d turned off his audio inputs, since he had work tomorrow. My maternity leave lasted another eight weeks, and we’d agreed I’d handle nights but I was tempted to shake the bed so he’d awaken.
My slippers slapped the cold floor. Ocean lay in her bassinet, her howls rising in peaks and valleys above and below my ears’ range.
Sean couldn’t hear her. I could return to bed and cover my head.
Ashamed, I steeled myself. Pinfeathers prickled my palm as I supported her head and lifted.
Vague green eyes searched beyond my face.