by Xyantha Reborn
by Xyantha Reborn
Flashes from the Past
It was so soft. But not soft like her teddy bears. It wasn’t…fluffy. Taking her finger, she poked lightly. A deep chuckle answered the curious touch. Viv giggled as dappled amusement danced about her, flittering teasingly against her skin.
“Don’t encourage her!” Mama scolded. She had just walked in from the kitchen, setting food on the table. She turned, walking towards them.
Hands lifted her under her arms, and Viv felt herself hanging for a moment before being deposited gently to the floor, hiking a shoulder at the intrusion of Mama’s displeasure. It felt rough and stinging, like when she washed her with soap too hard when she had a cut.
“Its fine, Flo. She’s just a kid, and she’s figuring stuff out,” Uncle Ray rumbled. Amusement still hovered around him, but the flitting had suddenly stilled.
Viv loved how his voice made his chest and tummy shake. She glanced to her mother, noting how a frown had spread over her face. Uh oh, Mama’s mad.
“It isn’t normal,” Mama said, crossing her arms over her chest the way she did just before she sent her to bed. “She’s always wanting to touch people’s belly, staring at fat folk.”
A wave of stinging disgust struck Viv, confusing her for a moment. That was bad? Big tummies were soft and nice...
“Don’t talk like that in front of her, Flo!” Uncle Ray snapped. “Children understand more than they let on.”
Mama stared down at him, making Viv shiver in anxiety. “Fat is disgusting, Ray. If we allow her to continue…she might get fat like you someday.”
“Is that so.” The amusement dissipated as a wave of…something rolled off her Uncle. Something jagged and sharp and hurting. The curling tendrils brushed at Viv’s arm, making her start to cry. Immediately, the tendrils snapped back, though they curled threateningly behind some sort of barrier. “Don’t cry, Viv!” Uncle Ray smiled. “It’s ok.” He patted her head softly. “You hungry?”
Nodding, Viv raised her arms. She was swooped up and deposited at the table.
“Don’t eat to much,” Mama said, leaning down and looking her in the eyes. “We wouldn’t want to get fat, would we?”
Viv didn’t understand…but it felt as if she was being squeezed in a vice. Turning her head, she nodded frantically, sighing in relief as the pressure released.
“Good girl. You too, Ray."
Uncle Ray frowned, sitting down. When Mama had finished putting food in his plate, Viv noticed it was more like a kids portion that an adult’s portion. She held her fork tightly, eyes darting as those tendrils snaked inward, stinging him.
“Viv was great at daycare today!” the ugly old woman said as she patted Viv’s head.
“I’m glad,” Mama said, and they kept talking.
Bored, Viv glanced over her shoulder and found Thomas looking at her. So she stuck her tongue out. He did it back and she grinned. Suddenly, she focused.
“I didn’t want to bring it up,” the old woman said in a whisper. “But I just wanted you to know that Viv has a ‘boyfriend’.”
“Oh?” Mama said, looking down at her.
“The only reason I mention it is that she just seems attached, and I like to let the parents know. Thomas is a real person, not an imaginary friend!” her babysitter laughed. “She is quite taken with him. Shares all her snacks and pokes his tummy! It’s pretty cute.
Vivian felt frost creep from her mother, and tried to tug her fingers from her grasp.
Holding her tighter, Mama did that not-smile she always did when she was mad, her grip tightening on her fingers until that stinging cold made her hand go numb.
Suddenly fearful, Viv tried to distract her by talking about all the fun stuff they had done today.
Mama waited until she was quiet, then said, “So I hear you like Thomas. Why do you like Thomas?”
“He’s nice?” Viv replied, half questioning. She looked down at her doll, but felt the frost go colder. Mama was getting more angry.
“That’s good,” she said. “But you shouldn’t share your snacks with him, and you shouldn’t like him too much.”
“Because he is fat. Fat is bad.”
“Wanna play?” Jess was standing in front of her, holding the prettiest pink ball Viv had ever seen.
She didn’t really like Jess, but she always had the nicest toys…She fidgeted, scuffing her worn shoe toe on the ground. “I guess,” she said at last.
A wave of gloating, suffocating satisfaction billowed out of her. “Ok!” Jess ran to the end of the driveway, bouncing the ball.
Trotting along behind, Vivia tried not to be too jealous that Jess had pretty pink and black shoes, and nice bright purple pants with pink flowers on them. Her shirt had Cinderella on it, too, Viv noticed with a sigh. And her pony tail was so pretty and nice…
If she looked down at herself, Viv would have seen a pair of dirty Velcro shoes, and old faded pants with a hole in the knee. Her shirt used to be white. Mama said they couldn’t afford silly things like hair ties and bows, so her straggly brown hair fell into her face and eyes.
“So, here is the game. I am a princess and you are going to be my servant. I’m going to tell you what to do, and when I get mad I’m going to throw this ball, and you have to go get it. Ok?” Jess said, sounding bossy as usual.
It always felt like she couldn’t breathe right – Jess seemed to push all the air away from her. Viv nodded, eyeing that pretty ball. “Yeah.”
It was a stupid game. Jess had no imagination, and kept throwing the ball into the street every time Viv did something the princess didn’t like. If Mama saw her going on the street she’d get a smack, but this was the only time she ever got to play with toys.
One particularly energetic throw put the soaring pink ball into a backyard.
“You’re gonna be in trouble,” Viv gasped, turning to face her.
Jess responded with a toss of her hair. “Nu uh! You are my servant, you have to go get it!”
“I don’t wanna,” Viv protested, shaking her head and darting for her door.
“If you don’t get my ball I will never, ever, ever let you play with my toys ever again Viv!”
Chancing a glance at her, Viv realized she was serious. It took a long moment to come to the inevitable conclusion. Darting a glance up and down the street, she ran to the gate of the big wooden fence and let herself in. The backyard was so nice – flowers and pretty things were everywhere. The grass even seemed greener, somehow.
Sneaking forward, Viv glanced left and right. The ball was bright enough that it didn’t take long to find. Snatching it, she turned and bolted for the gate, but let out a muffled shriek of surprise as her eyes met that of a boy, sitting on a big white chair and eating ice cream.
Big eyes met hers, and he swallowed his ice cream. Both hesitated for a long moment, and Viv was on the verge of dashing back out when the boy spoke up. “Hi…Want some ice cream?” he asked shyly. “You can have the rest, if you want.”
“Uh,” Viv responded intelligently, distracted. Big pulses of glowing contentment were coming off him in waves. That drew her forward, and she found herself at the edge of the table, looking at him.
“I’m Brad,” he said, waving.
“Viv. I mean Vivian,” she said. Brad had a big milk mustache, and big brown eyes. He was the nicest looking boy she had ever seen, she decided.
Brad grinned with mischief. “Want some? It’s chocolate chip!”
Although the site and smell made her drool, Viv shook her head. “Uh uhn, I ate.”
“Bradly!” A voice said sharply. “Did you eat all of that yourself?”
The pulses of contentment broke off, and a dark fogginess rose up. “Um, no, Mom!” Brad said quickly, casting her the secret look that adults didn’t know. The secret look that said ‘us against them, ya?’. “I was sharing with my new friend, Vivian!”
Vivia turned her eyes to the adult, making eye contact. They liked that. “Hi, thank you very for letting me have ice cream,” she said.
Her act seemed to please the woman, for she patted Brad’s head and smiled. “Just remember,” she said, pinching his cheek lightly. “You don’t want to eat too much or you will get fat.” She walked back inside.
A familiar and scary tentacle rose out of that fog. Vivia shuddered away from it.
Brad’s round and frowning face turned towards her. “What’s fat mean?” he demanded in a half whisper.
Viv shrugged helplessly. “All I know is the parents say its really bad. It’s like when you get a big belly.”
Her new friend protruded his lower lip and stared down at his pudgy stomach. “Do you think I am fat?” he asked anxiously.
His tummy wasn’t nearly as big as Uncle Ray’s. “No, I don’t think so.”
He grinned, and the tentacle slid back into nothingness. “That’s good, because I really like icecream.”
Viv felt herself grinning back. “You could eat it all and say I did it,” she suddenly giggled. The expression on his face made her giggle harder.
“You’re the best ever!” he said, scooping up a big mouthful so that his cheeks bulged.
“I havta go,” she said, hefting the pink ball in explanation. “Bye!”
Last edited by a moderator: