Short Story: Sibling Fight

Parenting Pains (start here for context) | Dangerous Disagreement | Sorry State | After the Accident | Mini Mystery | In His Stead | Sibling Fight

Written in response to the Inktober prompt #11: Sour.

~Sibling Fight~

Fights among siblings are normal. Just not in their household. Her older son is a saint among mankind who does everything he can to make his brother happy. That love, in turn, inspires absolute trust and obedience in her younger son.

So it is a rare sight indeed to see her younger son storm out of the birthday party in the living room, back turned from his most favourite person in the world with his lips puckered like he just ate a lemon. The furniture shudder as his power lashes out at everything around him, but it’s a testament to his growth that nothing is actually damaged.

“What happened?” she asks her eldest son and his friends.

With everyone’s help, they piece together the events leading up to her younger son’s tantrum. Armed with that knowledge, she heads off to find the young boy.

He’s curled up in the corner of their backyard, where a little shed has been specially reinforced to withstand his power. She sits on a tree stump outside, close enough to be heard but far enough to escape if she needs to.

“I heard about what happened. How do you feel?” she asks carefully.

“Brother gave away my present,” he grumbles, referring to the navy blue poncho blanket her eldest had lent to his friend.

“Only temporarily. She was feeling cold,” she says.

A clump of weeds growing out the side of the shed is ferociously torn into pieces. “Only Brother can use it.”

“He knows that now. We gave his friend something else and he’s wearing your present now. Do you want to see it?”

Her younger son is silent. She waits patiently, keeping her body carefully relaxed. Finally, she is rewarded with a tentative nod, followed by hesitant fingers wrapping around her own. Her face wants to break into a wide grin at the rare gesture, but she tempers it to a gentle smile so that she doesn’t scare him off.

Together, they head back into the house.

~End~

Genre: family, superpower, speculative fiction

Inktober attempt:

Short Story: In His Stead

Parenting Pains (start here for context) | Dangerous Disagreement | Sorry State | After the Accident | Mini Mystery | In His Stead | Sibling Fight

~In His Stead~

Once, she feared her younger son.

She’s still wary of him, but years of love from his older brother has soften the ill tempered toddler into a more conscientious teen. They might never be completely comfortable with each other, and she’s self aware enough to know that it’s largely her fault, but at least now she’s able to sit by her youngest’s bedside while he sweats off an intense fever.

Lost in his dreams, her youngest son keeps calling out for his older brother, who is away on a trip with his university friends. They’re trying to break her oldest son’s tendency of dropping everything in his life for his brother, so order for her older son to continue his holiday, she has promised to take care of her youngest son in his stead.

She makes herself comfortable with a pillow against her son’s wooden headboard. With a book in one hand and refreshments on the bedside table within reach, she braces her other arm on a bolster and runs her fingers through sweaty bangs. Under her touch, the restless squirming calms. Even with his flushed complexion and laboured breathing, it’s the most relaxed she has seen her youngest in her presence without her older son around.

One day, she hopes that this peace will be the norm rather than the exception.

~End~

Genre: family, superpower, slice of life

Camp NaNoWriMo short story count: 16/31

Short Story: Mini Mystery

Parenting Pains (start here) | Dangerous Disagreement | Sorry State | After the Accident | Mini Mystery | In His Stead | Sibling Fight

~Mini Mystery~

The end of a rope sticks out from underneath the sofa. She reaches down to grab the rope and pulls.

A small takeaway paper bag slides into sight.

She gags. How long has it been there? She can’t bring herself to check, but she needs to be sure. She reaches for the knot tying the bag close.

“Mum!” Her youngest dashes to her side. “Gimme.”

“What is this?” she asks instead.

Her youngest shifts from foot to foot, then dashes off once more to return with her eldest.

“Oh. You found it,” her eldest says, “Thanks, mum.”

He reaches for the bundle and she hands it over without a thought. By the time her mind catches up, the bag is already in her eldest son’s hands.

“What’s in it?” she asks.

“A surprise. You’ll see.”

And she does. Two weeks later, when her two boys present her with a set of handmade earrings and necklace strung together with the materials they had hidden in the bag.

“Happy birthday, mum!”

~End~

Genre: slice of life

Short Story: After the Accident

Parenting Pains (start here) | Dangerous Disagreement | Sorry State | After the Accident | Mini Mystery | In His Stead | Sibling Fight

~After the Accident~

“Mr Cat didn’t like the plan, so he stood up and said, ‘I disagree.'”

Through the gap in the door, she watches her two boys sit side by side in her eldest’s bed, head bowed as they read a book together. Her eldest’s voice soft, still weak from his injury, her youngest’s words hesitant, still learning his way through the letters.

Before the accident, her youngest was a temperate toddler with a powerful ability that could destroy with just a thought, a combination that made him a ticking time bomb that could go off at any moment.

After the accident, her youngest lives as if an invisible wall stands between him and the rest of the world. He holds his emotions close and his powers even closer. After the disastrous family games night that landed her eldest in the hospital fighting for his life, they have not had an accident since. Not even a broken plate.

It’s a peace that she hoped for, to be able to stop fearing for her house and life whenever her youngest is upset, but not like this. They have lost their ticking time bomb, but they have also lost the cheerful moments like when her youngest uses his power to make his vegetable walk off his plate onto his older brother’s.

As always, while the rest of the family falters, her eldest pulls them back together. Even as he fights tooth and nail to recover from his near-death experience, he spares the energy to coax his little brother out of his shell, at least when it’s just the two of them.

Still out of sight, she watches her two boys. She savours the shy smile on her youngest’s face, then with a tray of food balanced on one hand, raps her knuckles on the door.

Her youngest’s smile vanishes as a blank mask falls over his face. She pretends not to notice as she put the plate of cookies on the bed tray at the foot of the bed.

“Afternoon snacks,” she announces.

“Thanks, mum,” her eldest say.

Where once, her youngest would already be halfway through his first cookie, now he just nods quietly, both hands clutched at his older brother shirt as he half hides behind his older brother.

“You’re welcome.” She takes the hint and doesn’t linger. With a smile at both her boys, she backs out of the room. The boys continue their reading as she walks down the corridor.

“… and when the sun went down, their plan began.”

~End~

Genre: fantasy, family

Short Story: Sorry State

Parenting Pains (start here) | Dangerous Disagreement | Sorry State | After the Accident | Mini Mystery | In His Stead | Sibling Fight

~Sorry State~

Her eldest is in surgery. Her husband is alone in the waiting room. Her youngest curls over the abandoned game in their living room with his face in his hands as his world literally crumbles around him. And then there’s her, standing out alone at the corridor.

It would be better if she is in the operating theatre instead of her eldest. Her eldest will know exactly what to do with her youngest.

No, she isn’t completely honest with herself. She knows what to do. She just doesn’t want to because his volatile temper hurt them again.

She sighs.

She should be with him, not out here in the corridor like a wary ranger watching a dangerous beast. Her youngest is dangerous, but he is her son, and she is his mother.

She knocks the wall to announce her presence and approach her youngest, one careful step at a time until her leg almost brushes against him. Without a word, she sits on the floor with him, then wraps her youngest in a hug and combs her fingers through his hair.

“Sorry,” her youngest says in a small voice.

As you should, her bitter side thinks.

Her reasonable side points out that her youngest will never intentionally hurt his older brother, who, if he was here, will make sure her youngest knows that.

“I know. And I’m sure your brother knows that too,” she says.

There are so many other things she wants to say.

‘This is why you need to control your temper.’

‘Next time, listen when we tell you to calm down.’

‘It’s ok to be upset, but it’s not ok to break things when you’re upset.’

But she doesn’t say any of that. It’s not the right time, and she’s not the right person.

Instead, they sit together in silence, each lost in their own thoughts as they wait for the phone call that will right their world or break it.

~End~

Genre: family, fantasy

Short Story: Dangerous Disagreement

Parenting Pains (start here) | Dangerous Disagreement | Sorry State | After the Accident | Mini Mystery | In His Stead | Sibling Fight

~Dangerous Disagreement~

Sometimes (all the time), she wishes it is her calm, mature older son who developed superpowers instead of her temperamental, rebellious younger son.

“I’ve told you before. No.

The furniture rattles. A few cushions rise in the air. She pretends not to notice her youngest’s impending temper tantrum and instead of fighting head on over the same issue again, diverts his attention to a different target.

“Your brother needs to rest. Don’t wake him up.”

The furniture settles silently back into place. Even the cushions are lowered with care. As expected of her eldest. Even when he was bedridden, he could still keep her younger son under control.

“I’m going to make jelly for your brother. You want to help me?” she offers.

“Pineapple jelly?” her youngest asks.

She nods. “Pineapple jelly.”

Her youngest considers it.

“Okay.”

She offers her hand and take it, movie (hopefully) forgotten in favour of the jelly they are about to make for his favourite person in the world.

She hides a relieved sigh.

Crisis averted.

~End~

Genre: family, slice of life, fantasy

Short Story: Parenting Pains

When a child throws a tantrum, things break, but the parent can still subdue the child until the child calms down.

When a child with super powers throws a tantrum, things break, and the parents risk serious injury or even death if they come too close.

Their youngest isn’t a bad child, but he’s at the age where temper tantrums are how he deals with setbacks. It doesn’t help that when he first started throwing things around with his mind, they caved very quickly just so that he wouldn’t bring the house down on them.

But that was in the past. They’ve improved since then.

The first tactic is to remove the trigger. In this instance, her husband, who stopped their youngest from playing with the raw chicken defrosting in the kitchen.

The second is to stay out of harm’s way. Fortunately for them, they have a neighbour with the power to fix things. Anything their youngest breaks in a fit of temper, the lovely matron can fix, but she can’t fix broken bodies. So she stays just outside the door, out of reach of the chaos inside.

The third is their eldest. The two brothers think the world of each other, and their eldest has the patience of a saint. They try to keep their trump card for the truly world ending tantrums. Their eldest has school, and they don’t want to pull him out of class so that their youngest learns to associate tantrums with extra playtime with his favourite person.

She stifles a wince as half a table smashes into even smaller pieces against the wall.

One day, their youngest will either grow out of his temper tantrums or rely on them like a clutch. They may not have superpowers, but they can at least guide their child down the right path.

So she waits patiently for their youngest to run out of steam and calm down, then walks into the disaster zone that was their living room sit next to him on the floor.

“Ready to talk?” she asks.

Her son nods.

“I’m all ears. Tell me what happened.”

~End~

Genre: fantasy, family

Parenting Pains | Dangerous Disagreement | Sorry State | After the AccidentMini Mystery | In His Stead | Sibling Fight