the assignment was to write a revenge story.
i need a better title.
questions, comments, suggestions?
(once again, please forgive the spacing between paragraphs. the pre tag doesn't seem to want to work.)
“No! No! I’m telling Mom. MOM!” Alex screamed. He latched both hands firmly on the side of the bowl, but Gabriel was bigger, and stronger, and jerked it from Alex’s grasp. Water splashed down Alex’s arms. Gabriel marched out of the room and started down the hallway. Alex raced after him.
“You’re spilling it. Clara needs that water to live!” Alex wailed.
“Oh, I’ll give this stupid fish plenty of water,” growled Gabriel. “Toilet water!”
“Clara’s not stupid!”
Gabriel stopped abruptly in the hallway and whirled to face his brother. “Your fish is stupid. Look how little her head is. It means she has a tiny little stupid brain. Just like yours!”
“My brain isn’t tiny,” whispered Alex, barely comprehensible through all the tears and snot running down his face.
“If your stupid brain wasn’t so tiny, you woulda listened to me when I told you not to tell your ugly fishface here any of my secrets! I told you not to tell ANYBODY!” Gabriel snapped back around and continued his march.
“Clara wasn’t going to tell anybody!” shrieked Alex.
“You dumb idiot. If I heard you telling your fish, Mom could have heard you telling your fish.”
Alex grabbed onto Gabriel’s leg and began to howl. He had to tell someone about all the terrible things Gabriel told him to keep secret. Otherwise, they’d start to roll around in his head, like a marble in a jar, whizzing faster and faster through his brain until whoosh, out they flew through his mouth. To avoid the shameful pain of being sat on with his arm twisted behind his back for half an hour, Alex began talking to Clara, his glittering blue betta. Clara listened. Clara never demanded to know details, like his mother, or told him that she had work to do, like his father. Clara never punched him or told on him as Gabriel did whenever Alex tried to confide in him. Before long, Alex was skipping his family altogether and just telling everything to Clara. They didn’t seem to care.
Gabriel had noticed that Alex was much quieter at the dinner table these days. Being bad was so much easier when you had a place to dump your sins so you could pick up a few more. But now it had become dangerous. Alex was growing careless, leaving doors open or forgetting to keep his voice down. Gabriel could not risk his parents finding out that he was the culprit behind their missing CDs. It had been a roaring good game of Frisbee Tag, but hardly worth losing his life over. Since he couldn’t get rid of his little brother, the fish had to go.
He stomped into the bathroom. Alex stopped bargaining and switched to physical violence. It never worked, for Gabriel’s two extra years of life seemed to act as an invisible suit of armor, but desperation made Alex try everything. He bit. He kicked. He scratched. He pinched.
Gabriel was unmoved. He lifted the toilet seat.
“No, no, no!” Alex threw himself on the toilet. “Don’t do it!”
Gabriel lifted the bowl and took a hard look at Clara. She was pretty, he had to admit. She seemed to be watching Alex cling to the toilet. When Gabriel brought his face closer to the bowl, he could have sworn he saw her turn and give him a dirty look.
“Gah!” That did it. Alexander’s creepy fish was a goner. Roughly, Gabriel shoved Alex off the toilet with one hand and heartlessly dumped the fishbowl with the other.
Alex screamed his very loudest then. Loud enough to reach his mother in the backyard. She raced upstairs to find her youngest son, sobbing loudly, with both hands thrust deep inside the toilet.
“Good god, Alexander!” She yanked him from the toilet. “What in the name of heaven hell and earth are you doing?”
Alex’s words were nearly drowned in his miserable gasps. “Gabe…Gabriel…GABRIEL FLUSHED CLARA!”
“Clara?” His mother stopped to think. Was Clara a toy? She looked in the toilet—not stuffed, or there would surely be a clog. She didn’t know Alex to play with little army men, and she hadn’t noticed him naming his toy cars. “It’s okay, dear, we’ll buy you another Clara.”
“I don’t want another Clara! I want MY fish!”
Oh, that’s right. Alex’s little fish. “Now, honey. Your poor little fish might have died soon anyway. I told your grandmother not to give it to you in the first place. Five is far too young to take good care of a pet.”
This might have been true in any other five-year-old, but Alex had been a devoted fish owner. He had saved his own pennies for Clara’s food. He had learned from his grandmother how to clean out the bowl, and had done so every week. He’d even wrapped the bowl in a blanket on cold nights. No, Alex was not too young to take care of his fish. But he had been too young to save her.
“Come on now, Alex dear. In a few days you’ll forget all about your fish and move on to a new plaything.”
Alex dunked his hands back into the toilet and covered the hole in horror. “Don’t say that! She’ll hear you and get her feelings hurt! Besides, it’s not true!”
“Oh, for pete’s sake, Alex.” His mother dragged him up from the floor and wiped off his face. “Get out of there, it’s disgusting. Now I know you miss your fish but that’s no reason to be unsanitary. It’s also time for you to be realistic. Your fish cannot hear you. Fish can’t hear people. Besides, she’s gone. Now we can talk about this more when your father gets home, but for now I want you to wash up and come downstairs for lunch. I’ll deal with your brother later.”
Alex stared down into the toilet. “I’ll miss you, Clara.”
The only reply was a single bubble. He started to cry again.
Gabriel’s punishment was to sit in the corner for half an hour after dinner. He’d gotten off easy, and both he and Alex knew it. Alex went into the kitchen to appeal to his father. He could hear Gabriel humming gleefully even as he sat facing the wall.
“It’s not fair, Dad! He killed my fish!”
Alex’s father paused in his dishwashing. “Now, son, he’s being punished for it right now.”
“No, Dad, it’s not enough! I should be allowed to…to…break his windows!”
“Now, son, two wrongs never made a right.”
“But it’s not fair!”
“Now, son. What Gabriel did was very wrong, and he’s paying his dues. Besides, your mother and I were both against that fish in the beginning. Now, I’m much more concerned about you and your brother getting along better.”
“It’s not my fault he flushed Clara!”
“Now, son. I never said that it was. I merely suggested that you and Gabriel try a little harder to cooperate and live peacefully.”
Alex narrowed his eyes. “I don’t care about Gabriel, I care about Clara!”
“Well, if you care more about a fish than your brother, maybe it’s good that she’s gone.” Alex’s father turned back to the sink and turned on the water. Alex stood silent for a moment, then stormed out of the kitchen. He heard water being spilled and his father cursing and yelling for a towel, but didn’t turn around.
That night, Alex dreamed he was inside of a giant toilet. It was flushing, and water roared all around him, but he was floating safe and dry in the middle of the whirlpool. Splashing suddenly out of the water came a large blue fish. Clara? Alex reached out and touched the fish’s shimmering scales. They felt smooth and slick, just like Clara felt when he tried to grab her out of the toilet. The giant blue fish looked right at him, and blew a bubble.
“Eat your breakfast.” Alex’s mother stood firmly in front of him, watching Alex smash his cereal into mush.
“I’m not hungry.”
“You can’t keep moping around like this, you know.”
“Leave me alone.”
Alex’s father came into the room, his morning vitamin pill and a glass of water in his hand. “Now, son. Don’t you talk to your mother like that. She’s right. Snap out of it.”
Alex didn’t answer. His father shook his head, shrugged, and tossed the pill into his mouth. He took a swig of water, but it seemed to miss his mouth and pour all over his face.
“Glug,” glugged Alex’s father.
“Good gracious, Earl, you’re going to have to change your jacket,” cried Alex’s mother, rushing at him with a towel.
“Dad, why’d you pour water all over your face?” asked Gabriel with a smirk.
“I didn’t! It was an accident! Gah, I’m going to need another shirt, too. Goddamn it, I’m going to be late for work. How does a grown man pour water all over himself?”
Alex’s mother hid a smile as she dabbed her husband’s face. “Alex, dear, run upstairs and get your father another shirt and jacket out of the closet.”
Alex ran upstairs, but didn’t come back down.
Gabriel came raging out of the bathroom into Alex’s room. “What did you do, you little idiot?” he bellowed.
Alex looked up from his Legos to his brother’s dripping form. “What happened to you?”
Gabriel kicked over the Legos. “You know perfectly well what happened. You rigged the toilet to explode at me!”
Alex stared at him, openmouthed. “How do you rig a toilet to explode?”
Enraged, Gabriel grabbed Alex’s collar and shook him hard. “You’re the one who did it. You tell me! I flushed the toilet and water sprayed all over me! How did you do it?”
Alex had nothing to tell. He was five and had only recently learned that the toilet was not going to swallow him when it flushed. Shaking his little brother seemed to remind Gabriel of this fact, and he let him go. “Fine. So maybe you didn’t rig it. But you must have done something. I’m telling Mom.”
Bewildered, Alex watched Gabriel stomp wetly out of the room. As the door slammed, he could have sworn he felt something small and smooth brush up against his cheek. He touched his face quickly, but there was nothing.
Alex’s mother examined the toilet but found nothing wrong. She made Gabriel take a bath to get the dirty water off. Alex used the opportunity to steal back all of his toys from Gabriel’s room.
Before he even got the first load stored away in his toybox, he heard Gabriel yelling his head off in the bathroom. Alex’s mother heard it as well, and the two of them rushed into the bathroom.
Gabriel was sitting naked in the tub, fighting with the water faucet. He turned it as hard as he could, but water still gushed from the nozzle. The tub was overflowing. Water was starting to seep into the hallway.
“Gabriel!” cried his mother. “Can’t you see what a mess you’re making?”
“It’s not my fault!” hollered Gabriel. “The water won’t turn off!”
His mother leapt over to the tub and began struggling with the nozzle herself. The water, instead of falling vertically, began to spray all over the bathroom. Alex’s mother screamed for his help, and together they managed to shut off the water.
“What happened?” Alex’s mother gasped.
“I just came in here to take a bath, and the water suddenly started coming out super-fast, and I couldn’t stop it, and…and…” Gabriel was too exhausted and shaken to continue.
“Well, never mind what happened. Let’s get ourselves dried off.” Alex’s mother started for the linen closet, but stopped short at the sight of Alex, standing quietly by the toilet. The entire bathroom was completely soaked, but there stood Alex—-dry as a bone.
“I have no explanation,” said Alex’s father. He was irritated. A dry son hardly counted for an emergency to be called home for. Alex’s mother thought otherwise, and was in hysterics. Alex and Gabriel sat quietly on the couch, watching their parents pace back and forth.
“It’s very stressful!” shrieked Alex’s mother. “First the washing machine floods the basement, then the toilet soaks my son and my tub goes wild. I told you this morning we should call a plumber, but no, you said you could fix it yourself. But now this craziness with Alex—it’s very stressful!”
“Look,” said her husband, “it was just a piece of extraordinary coincidence. Alex just happened to be standing in the one place that was miraculously free of water spray. It’s just that simple.”
“Simple, Earl? Simple?”
Alex’s father sighed. “Here, Audrey, sit down. Try to calm yourself.” He brought her a glass of water. As she held it, the water rose to the edge of the glass and began to pour over the sides. She screamed and threw the glass to the floor. The water crept out and began to run along the floor towards her.
“You can’t tell me that was a coincidence!” she screamed.
“I have to admit, that’s pretty bizarre. But there has to be a reasonable explanation.”
Alex’s mother didn’t wait around to hear it. She grabbed her two children and rushed from the room.
His father followed her into the kitchen, where she wildly looked for a towel. As she reached over the sink, the water blasted on, gushing from both the faucet and the spray nozzle, waterlogging the entire kitchen and its occupants. Except for Alex.
“What is happening, what is happening!” cried his mother. She stared in horror at her dry child. A tiny bubble floated near his head. It popped.
Alex’s father went for the cabinet to shut off the water, but a wave came pouring out when he opened the doors. He flung open the basement door, but there was water all the way up the stairs. His wife rushed to the front door, but a thunderous flood came exploding through the doorway. Alex ran to the window to see where it came from, but saw nothing different about the neighborhood.
“To higher ground!” commanded Alex’s father, charging towards the steps. Water was pouring down them like a mountain brook. It looked very pretty, thought Alex. He imagined trout leaping their way up his stairs, into his room to play with his Legos. He laughed.
His family whirled at the sound. “Alex!” roared his father. “Why do you think this is so funny? Are you causing this?”
Alex stopped laughing. “What? Why are you trying to say it’s my fault? That’s not fair! I didn’t do anything!”
“You’re lying, you stupid idiot,” yelled Gabriel.
“I’m NOT lying!” Alex felt the smoothness sweep across his cheek again. He clapped his hand to his face but felt nothing.
“You probably broke a pipe or something when you rigged the toilet!”
“I didn’t rig anything!”
Alex’s parents noticed a swipe of blue blur past Alex’s chin.
“You stupid lying baby! You ruined the whole house!”
“I didn’t ruin anything! You ruined everything by killing my fish!”
“No one cares about your stupid fish!”
A blue blur in front of Gabriel’s eyes, and he fell over into the rising water.
His parents hurriedly pulled him up. “How are you doing this, Alex? How?” asked his mother.
“I’m not doing anything!” yelled Alex, exasperated. Another flash of blue by his ear. He was standing in waist-deep water, but didn’t appear to be getting wet. Water was dripping from the ceiling now; they looked like they were in the middle of a storm.
The smoothness felt like it was running all over his body now. He felt it instead of the water. He felt smooth, and light.
The water rose. Alex’s father had to hold Gabriel over his head to keep him from drowning. Gabriel was still screaming about pipes, but Alex couldn’t hear him or see him. All Alex could see was blue, and all he could hear was water.
All at once, the water began to form a giant whirlpool. With a giant sucking sound, the water suddenly drained away. Alex looked around the living room. His family was gone. No one was in the room except for a tiny, transparent blue fish floating in front of him.
thanks for reading!
coming soon: revisions of recent stories. woo fun.