Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Mansion of Mock Lights -- Part II

Once seated on the modern white couch within the dazzling living room, Olivia relaxed a little bit. She nibbled on the sautéed quail and forked the asparagus rapidly, downing the rich food faster than she had ever eaten dinner before. Eliza was the opposite. She insisted that an exasperated Ludwig tweeze out every single molecule of fat in the extremely lean quail meat, and slid the evenly cooked asparagus around her plate, gagging in disgust. “Ugh! Are you trying to poison me with this vulgar specimen?” Eliza shouted as she not-so-daintily hurled Delia’s precious china, a gift from the duchess of Scandinavia, across the neatly decorated room, straight at Ludwig’s head. His head swiveled out of the path of the floating tableware as he easily snatched it from out of the blue. Olivia now understood two things: how Ludwig had such skillful reflexes, and why Eliza was so petite and skinny.    

Olivia, watching her fellow adults give in so easily to Eliza, decided to take charge. Gathering her broadest voice, Olivia commanded “You must eat all your dinner before you may eat dessert.” In an even louder, brattier voice, Eliza screamed “No! I will tell my parents that you are wicked and evil and you won’t be getting anything over a ten–pound note from them ever again!” Once she was finished threatening Olivia, Eliza skipped innocently to the kitchen to fetch herself some frozen yogurt, with Ludwig close behind. Olivia accepted a small box of assorted chocolate liqueurs from Mindy with a weak thank you and an unidentifiable hand gesture, not realizing that there was any trace of alcohol in them. Removing a dark chocolate truffle from the box, she shoved it in her mouth with a groan of satisfaction. The meager source of sugar (or so she thought it was the sugar) immediately electrified Olivia to liveliness.

“Alright then, let’s watch a movie!” Eliza announced as she waltzed back into the living room with a fro-yo mustache and a patchwork teddy bear with beady black eyes and a stomach that looked over stuffed. “Cinderella sounds good to me! How about you guys?” She gushed, daring them all to reply. They fake-eagerly nodded back yes, Olivia snapping back to reality as she realized that despite Eliza’s feisty, bossy manner, she was only six, and Cinderella was a suitable film for her age. Out of nowhere, Schmoplums was weaving in and out of Olivia’s feet, slinking slyly onto the couch. 

Olivia pulled out her cell phone and began texting her boyfriend, Darcy. He didn’t reply. She slumped down on the couch grumpily next to bouncing Eliza, whose eyelids were sinking over her electric blue eyes. Around the time of bibbity-bobbity-boo, Eliza was limp on the couch. Mindy and Ludwig yawned with relief as they stood to retire to their own rooms. Olivia lugged Eliza’s body up two flights of stairs and finally laid her down on her pink comforter, amidst her “all-shades-of-pink” room, lightly snoring. Olivia lumbered downstairs, panting, and embraced the couch. Her mind drifted off as her neatly eye-shadowed eyelids shut over her bright green eyes.

          Eliza peeked outside of her room, the deed so far done, not a single soul in sight. According to her calculations, neither Ludwig nor Mindy would be awake past 10:00, and poor, foolish Olivia’s dessert had been spiked with a little drop of the ever-tiring liquor that was sitting in the top-most cabinet in the kitchen. Little did her parents know, the height of the cabinet had never been an obstacle to get a teaspoon or so of the bewildering taste, slightly bitter, yet still the most delicious beverage Eliza had ever tasted. Licking her lips for the last drops of alcohol, Eliza wondered if a detour in her mission, one involving a certain princess, her singing fairy godmother, and the greatest song of all time was able to be installed, but her work needed to last as long as possible. Rushing into her bedroom, she hurriedly checked each camera stationed around the house from her computer, adjusting her ear bud so that any movement on the cameras would trigger an alarm as warning. Eliza cunningly undid the Velcro on her teddy bear’s stomach, and surgically removed the silver lighter from within the gray stuffing, so as to not disturb her second-most prized possession (her first was the contents of its belly). Worriedly, she checked the camera that was stuck onto Archibald’s collar, as well as all of the others, to make sure nobody was stirring, even though her ear bud would alert her to any mobile activity. Eliza excitedly turned back to her lighter, flicking it open with confidence that no one would see her. The bedroom was all dark, except for the blue and white flame, mesmerizing Eliza to an uncontrollable state. The eerie light was mocking her, emanating horrifyingly delightful things. Eliza stood watching the fire dancing on its designated pedestal, calling her to reach inside its depths and remove the terrifying secret of why, why, why the world revolved around one tiny point in which the simplest, yet most breathtaking matter of flame rested. Eliza couldn’t hold on to sanity much longer and gave in to the demands of the hard cold world even though she knew it was just the opposite. The strongly burning flame was hot and soft, almost nonexistent if it weren’t for the extreme temperatures. Trying to find the answer to her greatest question, the other side of Eliza, the quiet, vulnerable side of Eliza couldn’t hold back any longer, and touched the flame.

         The white-hot embers licked her fingers as she screamed in agony, the size of her everlasting scars multiplying each second. Eliza thought she could no longer endure this awful, violent pain as Delia, not her goofy, spoiling mother Delia, but take-no-prisoners, action first Delia, burst through the doorway with a grim expression and a fire extinguisher, there to save the night. Spraying a gigantic mound of foam on her daughter’s scarred fingers, she shut the lighter and drove her six-inch heel into that piece of plastic that haunted her life. Her daughter wailed, salty tears streaming down her blotchy red face, partly because of an overdose of pain, partly because her own mom had just destroyed her favorite toy. Mrs. Evans hugged her daughter like there was no tomorrow, and there almost was for her daughter, because of that terrible piece of plastic and metal. But it was alright. The terrible silver lighter was gone. All was well.

          Meanwhile, back in the living room, Olivia crept out the front door, leaving the outfit on the couch, with a thank you note, and sprinted away with a snoring Schmoplums, glad to be rid of the horror of the house and of babysitting.

         You will not be surprised to know, that she never babysat again, and also never used a babysitter for her own kids when she got older.  Darcy, who became her husband, ended up being a fireman, at her request. The words “babysitting” and “fire” never affected Olivia Jenkins the same way again, but all you or I will ever know is that everything turned out fine.

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