Friday, October 4, 2013

Prompt: He didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know

Oof. I hit the grass hard, but I didn’t dare rest on my back. Ebbe would stab at me with his walking stick. He reached down a hand to pull me up, but as I wrapped my fingers around his wrist, his gaze shot up past me. At the look on his face, my heart sank. Mom.

I twisted around to see her standing under the wisteria gazebo Dad had planted the year they bought the house. The year I was born. The year Dad died. Just standing there, with her hands at her sides, staring at us. How long had she been there?

She didn’t look at me, just Ebbe. “Danny, take a walk, please.”

“Mom, please, we were just—”

“Danny,” she said sharply, without raising her voice. There was no arguing or pleading with that. I jumped up without Ebbe’s help. He reached up and patted my shoulder, and I gave him a small smile before I turned back and huffed past Mom, stuffing my hands in my denim jacket pockets. She didn’t acknowledge my passing, just waited. I hesitated one step behind her. I wanted to say something, touch her, beg her, hug her. Anything. I shook my head and kept walking.

When I returned, I stood on the porch and watched through the frosted windows. I could see her moving around the kitchen, making dinner for the first time in months. Since she got her big promotion at work, Ebbe had taken over more and more keeping up the home, keeping up with me. If I stood out there any longer, I wasn’t going to want to go in. I pushed through the front door and carefully hung up my jacket on the coathooks, rather than tossing it on the wing chair like usual.

I walked as far as the kitchen entry and leaned on the open door frame.  She kept chopping vegetables and didn’t look up at me. “Mom—”

“Danny, I’m sorry. For everything. You don’t understand now, but someday…”

Suddenly furious, I punched the whitewashed wood and shouted, “Someday? Mom, you’ve been too busy to notice, but it *is* someday. I’m grown up. I’ll be out of here soon. And Ebbe is the only one—”

“How dare you?” She slammed the knife down on the chopping block, scattering celery bits everywhere. “I’ve done *everything* for you—”

“Everything but be here,” I shot back. I knew the house was empty around us. I could feel his absence as strongly as I always felt his presence. “Ebbe’s been here my whole life, Mom. How about you?” I jeered. “And now, *now*, you what…kicked him out?”

She deflated. Like I had poked her with that knife she still held. Her shoulders hunched forward, and I suddenly realized she had been crying. I couldn’t remember ever seeing her cry. Not. Ever.

“Danny, it’s not like that. Ebbe promised me he wouldn’t…try to…influence you.” She sniffed and drew in a deep ragged breath, reinflating herself as she stood upright again. Her voice had a hard edge I had never heard. “He swore a blood-oath to protect you, not to expose you.”

“He what? What are you talking about, Mom?” I stepped into the kitchen, hand up, pleading. “Mom, what did you—”

“I’m sorry, Danny. Ebbe’s gone. It’s for the best. I know you won’t believe me now, but maybe someday…” She drifted to silence, looking like she had more she wanted to say. But she shook her head and started sweeping up the celery with the blade.

I sagged against the door frame. “You sent him away? From me…from us? Mom, that’ll kill him.”

“Danny, don’t be so dramatic. It won’t kill him—”

“Yes, yes, Mom, it will,” I said as I jumped up, determined to go find him. “He saw it in his dreams.”

“Danielle Cassandra Atreus! Enough! That is why I told him to go! He wasn’t supposed to fill your head with such nonsense!”

I grabbed my jacket and punched my arms into the sleeves. “He didn’t, Mom. Ebbe never said a word. He didn’t have to.” I took a deep breath and looked her square in the eye. “I see his dreams. I see yours too.”

She blanched. I didn’t wait for her reply as I pulled open the door and marched out, slamming it behind me. Under the gazebo, I stopped and breathed deep. I looked up at the full moon rising. “Help me. Help me find him. I can’t do this alone.”

I opened my eyes wide to let the moonlight shine in. I looked down and saw the silver ghost of Ebbe’s footprints. “Thank you,” I whispered as I followed them out into night.

Dogs in house
None, and it feels very strange!

Time writing:
~50 minutes, including a little research

October word count:

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