The story below is called “Bats”, and I wrote and posted it a few years ago. When I found myself seasonally drawn to sketching a couple of bats, I suddenly remembered this flash piece and decided to dig it out again.
“He says he can find bedtime stories himself. Doesn’t want me to read to him any longer. Can you believe that? He’s only five years old.”
She wants to tell him how his eyes alternate between giving off red and golden glows in the moody candlelight. She knows he needs to hear something comforting and reassuring now. Things are bad enough as is.
“You’re a good father to him, my love. He talks to you, tells you what he thinks. All I get is no, he says no just once and when I try to talk him around his eyes glaze over. Okay, I do get a hug and a kiss on the neck, before he wiggles himself away from me and wanders off to sit at his little desk in your study.”
He wonders if she senses how much he desires to taste her neck. Is it his imagination or are there goose bumps making their way up along her slender neck? He lets himself be drawn back to her eyes, eyes like the core of a hurricane in this light, swirling clouds of grey interspersed with lightning. He knows he’d go crazy and hungry without her.
“I’m not sure he’ll go back to see Libby with me. Says he doesn’t fancy her anymore.”
“Don’t worry,” she says catching herself looking at his lips and longing for them to explore her neck and finding that very spot, “I’ll take him tomorrow and won’t take no for an answer. I’m okay with being the bad cop here, and it’s your turn to be at the hospital with Joe. The doctor says he’s responding well to the blood transfusions.”
His lips broaden into a smile for the first time this evening. She has no regrets about having gone off normal guys five years ago. For good. So glad that none of her attempts at normal relationships ever resulted in her bringing children into her life. Her life, yes, because she could never picture herself sharing a normal family life with those normal guys. She’d rather have a troubled and stormy one with this man.
“Libby is our best friend,” she says, “She’s not only known and loved Joe and Sam from day one but is also specialising in twin psychology. No way are we not going back to her.”
Sam looks stronger physically now that Joe has been in hospital for four weeks, and he’s become hugely assertive in what he wants and doesn’t want. He knows what this means but is not sure if she has yet progressed to that level of certainty. She suspects for sure, but will she stick it out with him and the boys once she is certain that she knows?
“Didn’t you tell me that you were well able to read by the age of four but didn’t let on to your parents, because they loved reading to you? You said you held back, because you didn’t want to frighten them,” he says, “I think that Sam takes after you, only that he isn’t political and just says things out straight. And hey, it’s not that unusual for kids to learn computers before they learn to walk these days. If everybody was as hooked up online as they are now when you were Sam’s age, you’d have got your bedtime stories off the web as well. It’s Joe who’s a lot more like me.”
Sam’s eyes are adjusting to the dark now as he knew they would. Funny how they always thought he couldn’t hear them talking when they kept their voices low. It was so easy to sneak out without them noticing.
Pity the nurse entered Joe’s room earlier just as he was about to extract the drip from Joe’s arm to get a quick dose. It had been so opportune that mum had gone out to get her coffee fix. Ah well, harvest time was approaching now.
He stood very still inside the shed, its door open. He could see the bats fidgeting up above. Not long now till they’d start whizzing past him on their way out toward the full moon and he could grab a few and drain them.
(C) Ash N. Finn, 2012