I laid on my bed, staring up at the white ceiling as it turned different shades of green and blue. A ‘high’ is what they called it. A medical induced one, anyway.
“I thought weed was supposed to calm you, make you feel really chill.”
“Aren’t you chill now?”
I sat up slightly and glanced at the wobbly Reggie, who leaned back in the one chair in the room. Flopping my head back down, I sighed, “I would be if the ceiling would stop moving.”
“Ooh, whats that like?” he asked, the legs of the chair dropping down as he sat up straight.
“Like being in the belly of the beast,” I replied. Then snorted.
Reggie did, too. “Id say its more like floating beneath the ocean,” he nodded.
“Or, above it, as you stare down at the crashing waves below you, just waiting for the moment you fall.”
“You’re so dramatic.”
“This ceiling is dramatic,” I retorted.
I allowed the silent crashing of ceiling waves to fill my head for five minutes. Then, I spoke up again, “I’ve never been to the ocean.”
“That’s ’cause you’re lame like that.”
They started to turn pink and yellow. “Do you think people see monkeys as red when they’re high?”
“Why, are you seeing monkey?”
“No, just thinking about them.”
“I don’t know what people see when they’re high.”
“Haven’t you ever been high before?”
“Nope. I sell drugs, I don’t do them.”
“If I smoked my own weed, Id be out of a job.”
I exhaled. “What day is it again?”
He snorted, “Last time I checked, it was Friday.”
“Oh, yeah, that’s right. My dad came to visit me the other day, Wednesday.”
“Oh? He did? How was that?”
“Apparently, smashing a pudding cup into the table because it wont open is considered violent behavior.”
Reggie snorted. “Really? Is that what those bruises on your wrists are from?”
I raised an arm and stared at the red marks. “Nope. Those are from the male nurse I punched. Apparently, that’s frowned upon too, so they restrained me.”
“Why’d you punch a nurse?”
“Because he wouldn’t give me a replacement pudding cup. I was still hungry.”
Reggie burst into laughter at that.
I smiled a little, too. The ceiling seemed to shake with his laughter.
“I wonder if my dad will visit next Wednesday.” It was the only day we were allowed visitors
“If he’s not too ashamed to call you his daughter,” he snickered again.
“Hey, Reg,” I sat up again and stared at him. He dropped the front legs of his chair and looked at me, a smirk still on his features as he nodded my way.
“Sub, crazy girl?”
“… How did you even get in here?”
As I race through the infested forest of Belate, a jungle as thick as your amazons, running for my life so this lizard-snakes mother doesn’t chomp its jaws down on my blue behind, I try to run through brain exercises to distract myself from my impending doom.
Think happy thoughts, Tiberia. Think happy thoughts.
Ah, scalpels. Yes, scalpels make me happy. Specifically, my scalpels. Cleaning them in cloric acid, watching the silver shine through.
Money. Money makes me happy. Money makes me very happy. Perchance, if I had some money, I would not be running for my life, with a dead snake head in my sack, and its mother slithering behind me, “Ah!”
I jumped with a screech as the snake clamped down on my tail. The poor thing, I had just grown that back.
With its length, it whipped its head back and yanked me off the ground. In an effort to save myself, I pulled a scalpel from my boot, twisted my body and sliced my own skin, cutting my tail as close to its jaws I could get, and fell back down against the vine floor.
Dirt. I was now really happy for dirt. Nice, soft dirt. For if it weren’t for dirt, I would probably have a shattered collar bone, or worse, a broken spine.
And a tail that grew back. Yes, I was very happy for a regenerating tail. My balance would be off for a day or two, but my tail was a rather resilient limb, in that it would stop bleeding after an hour or two and slowly grow itself back. In fact, as most species would consider it a pest during battle, I cherished my tail, as it could hold the light when I did not have a proper lab with the proper lighting to do my work in.
I huffed and clawed at the ground to get back to my feet, blood spilling from my gaping would. That would need to be clamped soon, though, so I did not attract more ferocious animals.
Running once more while this mother Spiner finished off what little of my tail she had devoured, I scanned the area around me for a plant that would paralyze, or poison the beast. My eyes and nose were of average use to me, I was happy that my thirst for knowledge has trained them in the ways of botany.
There, in front of me were gooberries, a blue carnivorous plant that released a sweet paralyzing goo as it touched your tasteful, before shooting thorns from the fruit to rip an eaters throat and stomach open.
I had never been more happier to spot a carnivorous plant. I snagged the base of the plant and tugged as hard as I could. I was yanked off my feet, unable to uproot the plant with my strength, and fell flat on my back. Oh for the love of science, why did I have to be so weak!
The beast slowed its slithering, reeled its head back and dove straight down to swallow me in one blow. My mono-blade stuck in my backpack, I had no time to retrieve it before I was Spiner food. I let go and rolled away as far as I could, happy for my quick thinking skills. The large snake dug its teeth into the dirt, snapped down on the gooberries and swallowed.
I finally stopped in a pile of ivy, and covered my head counting backwards from three,
The Spiner’s stomach bulged out and exploded, shooting its guts twenty feet outward. If it had not been for my weak strength, it may not have swallowed those gooberries. And for that, I was very happy that I had spent my lifetime training my mind and not my body.
As I was a female of science and not religion, I did not put much faith into divine intervention. However, I did believe in luck. And I was very happy of how lucky I had been these past few weeks.
I stood and brushed the snakes guts and ivy from my chest and legs, happy and delighted to be born a Torbe, a species that was naturally resilient to most poisonous plants.
I took a moment to clamp my tail, hissing in pain. Then, I retrieved my mono-blade from my sack, cut part of the Spiner’s head off, the part with the venom, and retraced my steps back to civilization, to claim my reward.
“Life’s too short to not be nice to people.”
As for Evan, there was no “memory” of a conception date, rather a cruel nightmare that lingered in the back of his mind of the time Ashley cheated on him, for the last time. But, the moment was buried and never once surfaced as he stared into Ian’s tiny tired eyes.
HIS beautiful baby boy, whether the child looked like him or not, had nothing to do that night.
It had barely been a month into their marriage, and yet…
He should have known that this would have happened.
But, Evan chose to believe the oblivious side of his brain when his phone began to ring. He set his wrench down and reached for his pocket as the phone slipped out and slid onto the floor.
Evan slid out from under the car and sat up. Picking up his phone, he looked at the name on the screen. It was Ashley. She had run out of the house a few hours earlier, yelling about some meeting she had to be at. The woman had given him specific instructions NOT to call.
“Hey, Ashley,” he answered it, with a smile. Evan did not really care why she was calling, it just made him happy to hear from her.
“I need you to come get me.” Ashley’s voice was flat and direct. “I’m at the Hillside Inn. The one on Fiftieth Street.”
“Um, sure. Is everything okay?” he was already getting up and grabbing the truck keys off of the work table.
Ashley had not been to work in the last few weeks. Since they had gotten married. Ashley’s reasoning was that she was starting a family now, and she could not work if she had to worry about taking care of Evan all the time. He should have known something was wrong. No. He should have stopped her from leaving, or at least gone with her.
“Just come get me, okay?” her voice turned to anger quickly, “I don’t want to wait forever.”
Crap. She was angry. And that was very, very bad. “I’m on my way.” He grabbed a coat for her and locked the house up, heading to his truck quickly. “Do you want to tell me what is wrong while I drive?” He got in the vehicle and started it, backing up. He was not going to waste any time.
“Nothing’s wrong, just come get me!” And with that, the line went dead.
Evan floored it. He traveled down the freeway, hoping he would not pass by any cops as the needle on the speedometer crawled over the numbers. It steadied out at around eighty. He drove until he pulled up in front of the hotel, only slowing down when he had to stop. He opened the door from the inside so she could just hop in and they could leave.
Gripping her bare arms, the girl stepped up into the truck, and slammed the door. She placed her seat belt over her lap and pulled her knees up to her chest, slipping her heels off. The hem of her sun dress was pulled down over her legs as Ashley shivered. Her skin was dry, but her hair was wet, and the water dripped down her bare back. “… Thanks…” Her voice was small, almost nonexistent.
And in the palm of her hand, she held her mother’s arachnid pendant up, so it reflected the few lights that were on outside. She had not had it for the past few days. Ashley always made up the excuse that it was put away, or she did not want it getting dirty, and Evan had just listened. Although, why he had done that was a mystery to him. Up until it disappeared, she clung to it for dear life. The young woman had even worn it on their wedding day.
The pendant always meant one thing. Ashley had gone to see Brian.
Evan did not say a word as he drove. He was angry. Not at her, but at the man who could never seem to keep his fingers off the woman Evan loved so dearly. His jaw was a little tight, his grip on the steering wheel too hard. He took the long way home, giving himself time to try and calm down. But, nothing helped.
Pulling up in front of the house, he parked in the driveway. Evan got out and opened the passenger door for Ashley, the silence almost deafening.
She had kept her gaze forward, and away from him throughout the car ride. But, he could see the tears now, from where he stood.
She wiped her eyes, and took a deep breath, still staring forward. “Y-you’re just… going to have to wait for me to get over him.”
He did not know what had happened between the two, but with Brian, one did not have to let their mind wander far before they knew. And Evan stopped his before it even started.
Maybe, just maybe, it was too much to ask of Brian to leave them alone. Perhaps, Evan was wrong to assume that Ashley would stop going to Brian after they got married. Was it really too much to ask for her to stop? Just to stop cheating on him?
The girl had always been different, and she understood cheating in a different way. He always forgave her. No matter how bad it was, he was a sucker, and he forgave her.
Evan was not stupid enough to dilute his mind with the idea that this was solely Brian’s fault. He held his hand out for her, his heart breaking. It did not matter how much he fought for her, he never seemed to win.
Ashley took it and stepped down onto the concrete with her bare feet. She held her shoes in the other hand and followed him to the door.
He did not let go of her hand, and once they were inside, he did the first thing that came to him. Evan pulled her to him and held her. He would not let her go. He could not hold onto any hate, or fear, when it came to her. He closed his eyes, refusing to admit to what he felt inside.
Ashley dropped her shoes, and jumped onto his waist, knocking him down and pinning him against the carpet in the hallway. “Okay, I’m over him.”
Ashley had made everything right that night, and they never once looked back.
And when Evan looked at Ian, he saw only her, and not Brian Scarla.
“You’re going to be just as wild as your mother, aren’t you,” he smiled at Ian as the tiny thing tried sucking on his finger. “We should get back to your mother now, she’ll be waking up with your baby sister, soon-”
“Excuse me, sir. Are you Ashley Mitchells husband?” Evan was interrupted by a doctor rushing up to him.
“Um, Yeah, is everything alright?” Evan glanced behind him when an alarm went off above their room.
“Um, your wife is-”
“What? What’s wrong with Ashley?” Evan did not wait to hear what the man had to say. Holding Ian close, he pushed passed the door and rushed to their room, “Ashley!”
He was stopped by the backs of doctors, hearing their orders as they surrounded her bed. Someone said “Seizing,” and Evan pushed on one of them. “What’s going on. Is my wife okay?” He could not see her, or their baby girl.
“Sir, please, we need you to step back.”
“That’s my wife, whats going on!”
“Her stats are dropping. Please, we need to get her up to surgery.”
“Wait, no, what happened? When I left, she was fine!”
“Sir, please!” Then, little Ian started crying.