When Aaron Taubman walked through the front door of his one-story stucco house, he‘d never been more excited in his whole life. He peered across the living room, at his wife Diane sitting at the dining room table, and felt an electric current raise the hairs on the nape of his neck. She’d had that same look on her face that all men fear; the look that all men try to avoid. He’d better choose his words wisely.
“How was your day, honey?” He asked, letting his briefcase slide out of his hand and fall onto the couch.
“I’d like to say it was good but then I’d be lying.”
The glaze over her sharp, dark eyes set a fire to his chest that he thought was indigestion. The lines around her temples and along the corners of her mouth were as noticeable under the chandelier as if they were moles.
“What happened?” He asked, walking around to her side of the table to lay a kiss on her forehead.
“Sit down and I’ll tell you.”
He did as she asked. She slid a white envelope from under the salt and pepper shakers sitting in the middle of the table, opened it and slid out a colorful 4x8 photo. She put it facedown on the table and slid it across to him. She watched him look at the photo, watched the mystery on his face bloom into a mask of anger and disappointment.
“Don’t worry she’s gotten enough slack from me today.”
“Well she hasn’t gotten it from me.” He said as he stood up from the table.
“Just relax.” She said, waving her hand at him. “She doesn’t need it. Not now, anyway.”
“I told you.”
“You told me what?”
“I told you to send her to boarding school but you said ‘she wouldn’t like it there’. That’s what boarding school is for.”
“Excuse the hell out of me if I see a problem with my daughter being ten-thousand miles away at some boarding school in Sweden. I do love her and I do want to see her on a daily basis.”
“That’s what the Internet is for.”
“Don’t tell me that Aaron.” She said. “Look what happened to Jeff.”
“What about Jeff?”
“He’s...” She stumbled, then regained herself. “he’s...It doesn’t matter. What would she have learned in boarding school that she can’t learn here?”
“They send kids to boarding school for a reason, honey.”
“Your parents never sent you to boarding school.”
“That’s not the point, Diane.” He said.
“It’s not like she killed someone.”
Diane stood up from her seat and opened the wooden door behind her. Aaron’s heart pounded against his chest; sweat beads broke out across his forehead as he walked toward his daughter’s bedroom. The short distance between the other end of the table and her doorway seemed to stretch on forever. When he stood in the doorway of her bedroom, his rapid heartbeat ceased to a regular rhythm. The room had white walls and beige carpet with a small lamp sitting on a miniature white table.
All of this was familiar to him. The same thing had happened to Jeff before the truth came out and that farmer in South Dakota shot him in the chest.
In the far left corner of the room, a young brunette girl was sitting on a small mound of hay and twigs. A small television sat before her, spreading a muted blue glow across the wall; on the screen Clive Owen jumped off the ledge of an apartment building, leaped into a red Convertible and drove down a wet gray street.
“Hey, gorgeous.” He said, walking into the room.
“Hi, Dad. I guess you and Mom are really mad at me, huh?”
“No, honey. It’s okay. These things happen all the time.” He spoke in a reassuring tone. “Your mother and I are going have to get through it but don’t you worry. You have our full support.”
“Oh, thank you Daddy and don’t worry. I’ll go to school and do my homework and take care of it. I swear.”
“It’s okay. We love you no matter what.”
“Daddy, I love you.”
When she hugged him, he looked at the picture Diane had given him and compared it to the mound of hay and twigs sitting under her. He could also compare it to the three-foot pearly-white egg sitting inside of the nest, waiting to meet its mother and bring a new member to The Taubman Family.
Copyright: © 2011 Brian J. Smith
Brian J. Smith has been featured in Drabblecast, Darkest Before The Dawn, The Forbidden Zone, New Voices In Fiction, Crooked, Postcard Shorts, The Horror Zine, The Flash Fiction Offensive, Thrillers, Killers and Chillers and Withersin Magazine. His story “For Rachel” was featured in “And The Nightmare Begins…The Horror Zine: Volume One. He currently lives in Chauncey, Ohio with his mother, brother and their six dogs.