Loaded guns and babies are like salt on a Twinkie. It makes no sense.
Keeping with tradition, Jessica Cooper's birth is brief, a girl they name Diana who somehow favors Doug in her soft features and slow blinking eyes. Scarlet’s pride vibrates like radiation. Her hovering applies visible strain on Doug as they move from the hospital to the house where she has commandeered the guest room and organized the baby paraphernalia into a series of stations. Some of Doug’s anxiety stems from Scarlet’s constant ability to discover the dozens of handguns he has hidden throughout the home.
Partly due to Doug’s indifferent attitude and partly due to her mother’s joy, Shorty surrenders any notions she had of keeping Scarlet a reasonable distance from the baby. With the first week and the anxiety and the mood swings and the steady march of singular experiences, she realizes that raising babies is one of the few areas Scarlet knows better than her daughter. Shorty encounters the first heartbreaking love of her life in the child she nurses in the amber lamplight near the window where she prays and time travels.
The beautiful burden of it has shaken her foundations and for several weeks after, she feels imbalanced and she confesses this to Sean when he sees the child for the first time. As she expected, he thinks she should consult an expert but he also points out the self awareness it takes to recognize this sort of problem from her side of the mirror. Many people don’t see this sort of thing coming so he accuses her in jest of practicing Buddhism in secret.
Nessa says babies stink. She likens them to hamsters. She tells Sean that children are unnecessary and detrimental to actual happiness. Worse yet, their parents’ most infuriating traits live on in the mimicry of their children, a trend she fortifies with anecdotal tales of her youthful rebellion such as the time the female members of her family organized an intervention to persuade Nessa to shave her armpits before her sister’s wedding. She refused of course and her grandmother blamed her mother’s previous defiance, the year she brought her college girlfriend home for Thanksgiving, a phase from which Nessa’s mother has—since her divorce—yet to escape.
After a prodding over any unfortunate behavior he might have inherited from his father, Sean fails to find any resemblance to him or to his grandfather. He does mention that he and his grandfather’s father found anarchism independent of one another but he cautions that his grandfather was a killer like the Towers that followed him. All but Sean. What follows is an extensive interview over Fox’s life and tribulations along with Sean's experience in searching for Fox’s story. The tale enthralls her. The Russian Revolution. Union activism. Matawan, Tennessee. She insists Sean resembles him in his want to help people. She encourages him to reflect on the other Towers. They must share a thread of charity. Sean reminds her that her complaint is based on deleterious traits. She swears charity can be as deleterious as violence or lies.
Chrysalis, a growing collection of very short fiction.
Unless noted, all pics credited to Skitz O'Fuel.