As promised, I’m going to be trying to post every weekday, pending prompts for inspiration. Today’s post is inspired by Our Write Side’s Master Class series. You should check it out!
Prompt: One way window
You’re probably expecting it, but I’ll say it anyway – this is yet another glimpse at Videl’s life. It’s a bit on the longer side, too, thanks to a lack of word count limit, so prepare yourself!
One Way Window
“Do you enjoy torturing yourself like this?”
For the first time, Marcus’ sudden presence doesn’t startle me into jumping. Instead, I remain still as I watch the figures moving in the mirror. My mother attempts to take something out of the oven, her pregnant stomach making the movements difficult. She manages, though, once a man I don’t know rushes over to help her. He removes the turkey from the oven and places it on the stove before reprimanding my mom. I’m not good a keeping track of time anymore, so I’m not sure when my mom started dating, or when she met this man. Regardless of the timeline, though, I’m glad she did – glad she has a family and that my grandmother is nowhere to be seen.
“It’s not torture.” I place my hand on the mirror, tracing the line of my mother’s belly. She rubs the mound absently now that she’s sitting, watching her husband finish tending to the turkey. Biting my lip is the only thing that keeps me from crying.
“You sure about that?” Marcus’ voice is full of skepticism, but there’s something gentler just underneath the surface.
“Did you need something? Or are you here just to watch me cry?” I glare at him, and he at least has the decency to look away. My attention back on the mirror, I watch as my mother starts to cry. It’s a soft cry – her husband doesn’t notice until he turns around from the turkey. When he does, though, he immediately comforts her, wrapping her in an intimate embrace. He’s whispering something to her, petting her head in an attempt to calm her.
My mother wipes her eyes and coaxes her way out of the hug, smiling at her husband to reassure him she’s fine. He hovers for a moment before taking her word for it and going back to the turkey. Now that he’s not looking again, my mother lets the smile waver. She pulls something out of her pocket – I can’t really tell what it is, so I change the angle. The image shifts and I’m looking over her shoulder. It’s one of our selfies, our faces pressed close together in an attempt to stay in the frame. Seeing it comes close to breaking me, and I taste blood as I continue to fight the tears. Before I can stop myself, I wipe my hand across the mirror’s surface, making the image disappear.
“I can take you to see her, if you’d like.”
Marcus’ voice catches me off-guard. For a second I thought his silence meant he’d walked away.
“What happened to cutting all ties?” I finally look at him again, but his expression doesn’t tell me anything. He’s simply standing there – one of the few times he isn’t taking notes on his clipboard – watching me.
“She won’t know it’s you.” His eyes wander to the mirror that now reflects my image. It shimmers, and I change. My hair is pixie-cut and jet-black, my skin lighter, and my eyes a bright blue. “Loophole – if there’s anything the boss likes more than rebels, it’s loopholes in his own contracts.”
“So I can see her?” For the first time since my transition, I let the beginnings of hope trickle into my voice.
“As long as you don’t tell her who you are.” He pushes his glasses farther up his nose. “So? Do you want to go or not?”
I can’t do much more than nod. He dismisses his clipboard into thin air before taking my hand. A second later, we’re on a street I don’t recognize in the middle of a flurry. At some point, he must have summoned appropriate clothes for the both of us – we’re appropriately bundled and I can hardly feel the cold. There aren’t many houses around and even fewer cars. It feels like we’re in the middle of nowhere.
“That’s her house.” He points at the house across the road.
“And we’re just going to walk up and ring the doorbell?”
“Yes. We’re lost, our phones aren’t getting reception, and our car broke down. See?” He shows me two cell phones, both with no signal and then motions at the car at the edge of the road. “Just let me do most of the talking.”
He begins to pull me towards the house, but I stand my ground, reluctant and holding him in place. “Wait.”
“What?” He looks down at me, eyes slightly confused. “I thought you wanted to see her?”
“I do…it’s just…” I look between him and the house and his face changes, his expression hardening a bit.
“I’m not going to do anything – you have my word.” He crosses his arms.
“The word of a demon.”
“You say that like you’re not one, too.” He looks back up at the house again. “We’re not actually allowed to harm humans unless specifically ordered to, remember? Even if I did want to cause your mother harm, the consequences are too steep to bother.”
“And that’s supposed to reassure me?”
“Listen, if I wanted to hurt her, I wouldn’t need you here to do it. I’m not here to torture you – you do that just fine on your own. Besides, the last thing I want to do is put up with you for an eternity after hurting your mom. Now make up your damn mind – do you want to see her or not?” It’s the closest I’ve ever seen him to losing his composure. Was he offended?
“Then let’s go.”
The next thing I know we’re on her porch, waiting for someone to come to the door. She opens the first door and remains behind the outer glass one. I’m too stunned to say anything, suddenly shaking with the impulse to break through the door and hug her. Marcus must have noticed, because he tightens his grip on my arm.
“Good evening, ma’am. We’re so sorry to bother you, but our car broke down and we can’t seem to get a signal on our cellphones. Would we be able to borrow your phone?”
My mother’s eyes fill with sympathy, and I almost want to slap her for being so nice – she has no idea who we are! We are two literal demons knocking on her doorstep and here she is considering letting us inside.
“Honey? Is everything okay?” Her husband’s voice calls out as he makes his way to the door. I never really focused on what he looks like until now. His face is round and kind, with crow’s feet highlighting his eyes. He’s got a five o’clock shadow starting up.
My mother’s eyes move from Marcus’ face to mine, and for a second I panic. Her eyes widen slightly, some confusion mingling with familiarity. “Everything’s fine. These guys broke down – need to use our phone.”
“Oh – well come in! It’s freezing out there.” He moves past my mother and opens the door to let us in. This time I want to slap him. Instead, I resist the urge by tightening my grip on Marcus. He shoots me a glance, but his eyes don’t reveal anything.
“Thank you.” It’s the first time I speak, and I realize my voice isn’t disguised. My mom immediately whips around to look at me. Did she recognize it? “We really appreciate this.”
I stand there awkwardly while Marcus follows my mother’s husband into the kitchen where the phone is. For a moment, we just stare at each other. I try to think of something to say, but she beats me to it.
“Would you like to sit down? A tow truck will probably take a while and there’s no way you can wait out there.” She waddles towards me, carefully stepping around furniture to avoid her belly.
“We wouldn’t want to impose-”
“Nonsense.” She clicks her tongue, a habit when she dismisses ridiculous suggestions. “I’m sure you two are hungry as well?”
Marcus walks back into the room before I can say anything. “Dan’s invited us to stay for dinner.”
“Where are my manners? I’m so sorry – I didn’t introduce myself. My name is Maria.” She holds out her hand, and I reflexively take it.
“Vi-Vivian.” I can feel Marcus’ tension at my almost slip-up. “And this is Marcus.”
“Well, welcome to our home. Please make yourselves comfortable. Dinner’s actually almost ready.” She walks past us back to the kitchen. The shock is finally starting to leave my system, and I let my shoulders relax a bit. Marcus watches me with the expression of someone anticipating an explosion.
“You sure about that?”
“Yes.” I push past him and into the kitchen. “Do you need any help? I hate to just sit around.”
Dan is cutting up pieces of turkey. On the other side of the room, my mother attempts to grab some plates, but her belly is making it difficult.
“Please, let me.” I approach her slowly. I’m not really sure about what I can or can’t do, or how my presence affects her on a spiritual level. The last thing I wanted was to deal any damage.
“Thank you.” She smiles at me, moving out of the way. “It’s a good thing I’m almost due. I’m not sure how much longer I can take this.” She rubs her belly as I reach up and grab four plates.
“Is it a boy or a girl?” Marcus asks from his spot by the counter, the picture of ease.
“Do you know what you’re naming her yet?” The question leaves before I can stop it. I’m not sure why I want to know so badly.
“Eva.” It’s Dan who answers as he takes the plates from me and begins to serve the food. Marcus helps him as my mother and I make our way to the dining room.
“It’s a beautiful name.” I try to smile at her, though the longer I’m there the harder it becomes not to break down. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.
I force myself to eat as we make idle chatter over dinner. Marcus and Dan carry most of the conversation. I catch my mother staring at me sometimes. When she notices me looking, she quickly looks away. Shit. Is she recognizing me? Her eyes dart to my hands for the first time and she focuses on my jewelry – the ring and bracelet she gave me for my birthday. I hadn’t thought to hide them.
“Those are lovely.”
“My mother gave them to me.” Why didn’t I lie? At my words, she almost seemed to flinch, as if making physical effort not to break down.
“So how long have you been together?” Dan breaks the tension, though I’m not entirely sure he knew it was there in the first place. Before I can correct his assumption, Marcus speaks.
“About two years.” Has it really only been two years?
We’ve finished eating, and Dan grabs everyone’s plates and takes them to the kitchen before coming back. Before the conversation can continue, the doorbell rings. My time is up. Dan moves to get the door, Marcus following.
“It’s the tow truck.”
We start to gather our things as Dan and my mother look on, exchanging the usual pleasantries – thank you, it was nice meeting you, etc. Marcus leaves ahead of me, so I’m left standing on the porch to say good-bye. I want to hug my mother, to let her know that her daughter is okay, but the most I can do is just smile at her and thank her for her hospitality. Before I can walk away, though, she pulls me into a hug. I’m stunned for a moment, and then she speaks into my ear.
“I needed this. Thank you. And please, please, stay safe.” When I pull away, she’s smiling, and I’m not entirely sure she doesn’t know who I am. Before I say anything stupid, I thank her again and rush to the car.
We’re silent until the house is miles away. After some minutes of driving, Marcus makes the driver stop and let us out. He drives away, and it’s just the two of us again.
“I think she knows.” I fidget with my scarf, trying to cope with what I might have done and the possible consequences.
“Did you tell her?” Marcus’ voice doesn’t reveal anything – no annoyance or anger.
“Then you’re fine.” The response causes my eyes to snap to him. His expression doesn’t tell me much, either. “Loopholes.”
He takes my hand without warning and we disappear.
Hope you liked it! Be sure to check out the rest of the weekly prompts over on Our Write Side. There’s something for everyone!
As always, think happy thoughts!
Image Credit: Image found via Google Image Search on wishestrumpet.com