Molly entered the kitchen to see Michael already awake and cooking breakfast. “You’re late! Mother will be home soon.” He paused and changed his tone to something more pleading. “Please help.”
“I was still asleep.”
“I would love to sleep in too!” said Michael, losing the softer tone he had before.
Molly’s eyes flickered to the patches on his skin and quickly walked into the room to help him. “What do you need from me?”
“Could you see if the milk is still good?”
Molly ran to the fridge and opened it. The hinges groaned open and a sweet smell filled the room. “I hate this thing.”
“She tried her best, now hurry up and help.” Michael continued to chop up a carrot, shaking the entire time.
Molly reached into the fridge and pulled out the carton of milk. She opened the cap and took a deep breath. “This doesn’t smell like milk.”
“Is it sour?”
“No, it doesn’t smell like milk, period. Sour or not.”
Michael grimaced and said in a defeated voice, “I guess it will have to do though.”
Molly walked over to Michael with the jug of milk and began to help him prepare the stew. She followed his instructions, him being a bit more experienced in this kitchen. She measured the right amount of “milk” and mixed in the butter over a low heat, while Michael continued to cut what he was very adamant was vegetables. She hadn’t seen all of these vegetables before, and some felt like they still looked familiar, which was a confusing set of emotions for her mind to handle while stressed about finishing the meal before Mother returned home.
While turning down the heat to a simmer so the stew could stay hot for when Mother returned, the two heard the door open. And then they heard the sound of sharp hard clicks along the stone floor of the front room. “Children! Where are you? Not hiding again I hope.”
Molly opened her mouth to call back and let her know where they were, but Michael reached out and covered her mouth and raised his other hand to put a finger to his lips.
The clicking got closer and closer, until Mother’s head peeked around the corner. Her kind calm smile was the first thing the children saw, with her rosy cheeks and soft features. “Ah, good boy.” Her voice flowed into the room like honey, and the rest of her followed. From her long slender neck, to her thin carapaced body, and her 4 spindly legs that ended in sharp black points, she walked towards Michael. She rested a cold but otherwise human hand on his cheek. “A child should be seen and not heard.”
She turned around and started to walk out of the room. She looked back and said, “I hope breakfast is ready. I want to relax by the tv while eating. Could you be a dear, Michael, and bring it for me. Molly, you can go to the corner or your room. Just be quiet.”
Molly helped Michael anyway. They gathered together a tray and a bowl and even got Mother a glass of…something from the fridge. They set it up in just the way Mother likes, with her favorite silverware, even the items she would not use today, just in case.
“Please hurry! My show is about to start and I want to be eating now. You children are so slow. I ask you to do one thing and…” She trailed on for a while as the two children brought her the tray. Michael and Molly went to two different corners in case she needed them facing into the corner. Molly rubbed the patch on her hand from the time she turned to see what Mother was watching.
“Michael, be a dear. I worked so hard today, and I would like to rest my legs.” She pointed down in front of her and Michael followed. He got down on the floor on all fours and waited there. Mother stretched out her long sharp legs and accidentally dug one point into his side. Holding back tears and his voice, Michael winced, but that was still too much. Mother noticed.
“Are you getting bigger? You’re growing way too much. I don’t want to hurt you, you know that, right? So this isn’t my fault. You’re just growing too much. You need to stop changing. You should be Mother’s boy again! But no, that’s not good enough. You need to change. And I do so much for you! I feed you, I give you shelter, I make sure you have clothes to wear, and all I ask is for you to show me a little respect and stay exactly as I remember you.”
Mother turned to Molly, who was trying to see what was happening but stayed facing the corner. “Molly!” She turned back to Michael, “See, now I need to involve her too.” And then back to Molly. “Don’t look right now, but get the sewing kit.”
Michael started to cry as he felt blood run down his side. “Ugh, that girl is going to have to patch you up now, fifth time this month. And she will have to clean this floor too. I hope you’re happy with what you did.”
Molly walked towards the other room but stopped in the front hallway. The front door was wide open. Mother left it open. Molly took a step towards it, and then another. She looked back toward the living room and realized that Mother could not see her, and she was too busy yelling at Michael in the first place to even be listening. This was it. This was her time to leave, find her old family. The family before Mother, if she could remember them again.
Molly closed the front door and locked it, like a good daughter should, and headed toward the bedroom with the sewing kit. Michael still needed a new patch after all.
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