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Srebrna, Skald Arkadii (and thoughts on writing)

Archive for November 2016

Splinters 14: Now they know

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The guy seemed harmless enough, so Elena finally let him inside. All three looked at him expectantly, as he sat there, looking very uncomfortable. He played with his leather jacket cuffs and they perched on the sofa, waiting.

“Well?” Elsa decided to break the silence.

“Ah. Well” he coughed. “My name is August and…” he paused to take big gulp of air. “I was sent to watch over you.”

Elsa snickered and Emma smacked her shoulder to silence her.

Elena finally found her voice.

“What are you, a guardian angel?”

“If he is, the angels are rather…”


He sighed again.

“You parents sent me with you, OK? And I really tried to stay in the same place, to make sure I don’t lose you, but some idiots in Social Services decided it will be better to separate us and sent me to some stupid country house for boys. I never knew before these actually existed. They supposedly thought it was better for my health” he coughed and grimaced. “My asthma and my allergies disagree.”

“Our… parents?” Elena asked in a weak voice.

“Yes. I’m sorry I couldn’t be here earlier” he made a face. “I was looking… well, anyway. The thing is, you know you were found in baskets, in a forest, by some kid, right?”

They nodded mutely.

“I’m the kid who supposedly ‘found’ you all. Actually, I only found one, the other two were sent with me. I can tell you exactly where, when, what we were all wearing and even who was in which basket. I suppose they wouldn’t have told you that. This one” he pointed to the sturdy wicker basket – filled with various cables and cell chargers – by the window “was Emma’s and Elena’s. And that one” white construction of thin wooden ribbons now held yarn “was Elsa’s. I know you will be suspicious, but listen, please” he paused and coughed again.

Elsa shuddered with sudden understanding.

August explained the events from twenty seven years earlier as well as he could, still skirting around the question of their actual origin.

“So” Elsa sighed again, by now sandwiched between her sisters, both holding her in a tight hug. “As I know you came with them, I’m guessing you have no idea who my parents might be. But what about theirs?”

“Yeah, that…” August stared at the dark window for a moment. “Your parents – now, hear me out and don’t hit me and don’t laugh – are best known as the Bandit Princess and the Dragon Killer. Or, Snow White and Prince James.”

“Bull” Elsa’s natural calm had already been rattled by the news they received just a moment before and now her normally measured, cultured voice broke just a little.

Elena pursed her lips and waited for Emma’s reaction. Emma’s ‘lie detector’ evolved soon after Henry was born (she was complaining a bit that it could have shown earlier and spared them all the court case hassle) and they relied on it in dealings with suspicious outsiders.

“He’s not lying.”

They were silent for a moment, looking at August, as he fidgeted in the soft chair.

“Actually, I’m telling perfect truth, for once.”

His feelings and stress were, in fact, shouting “TRUTH” for Emma, so she nodded to her sisters.

“So, we’re what, fairies?”

He snorted.

“No, perfectly normal humans. Just, well, a tiny bit magical. Actually, not that tiny a bit, sorry” he moved a bit, trying to find a better position. “At least one of you has already been using magic, a lot.”

Emma looked at him appraisingly.

“You are still telling the truth, but that doesn’t mean it is a fact. I mean, you could believe that magic exists, but still it would not make it any more true. Same with our parents. Someone might have messed with you, you were just a kid after all.”

His shoulders slumped a bit.

“One of you is using magic. And I mean it. She can even do it unknowingly, but I guarantee you, she is. I could probably work out which one, if you weren’t sitting all in one place” he smiled crookedly.

“What?” Elsa blinked. “How?”

He pursed his lips.

“I… Magic pains me, OK? I mean, it’s like an itch that goes painful, the closer I get to a magician. Especially if they are actively, daily, working it. I can detect magicked items and places, sometimes old curses.”

Emma leaned forward and looked at him in silence, lips pressed into a thin line.

“How?” she asked quietly. “Why are you so sensitive to magic? And, if it’s so painful, why did you even come here?”

He sighed.

“I didn’t feel it from outside, only once I was in here. So whatever one of you is doing, is not big, like a huge curse. Maybe it’s just… I don’t know. It’s like in that Chinese restaurant I visited, the cook was ‘helping’ the dishes to stay unburned. Nothing more. So my knee itched like crazy, but only if I sat too close to the counter. By the door it was quiet.”

“That doesn’t answer the first question” Elena pointed out helpfully.

“Because I was created by magic, ok? And it’s failing me and any time I’m close to any magician, the broken parts hurt! Will you stop asking?” he huffed and covered his face with his hands. “Yes, I’m a magical creature and I can detect it. Now will you please all move to different places so I can work out which one is making my wooden leg itch? May I add, that as it’s wooden, I can’t even scratch it effectively? Thank you?”

“Ok, so if we stand in different corners, or just come closer to you one by one…?”

‘Wooden?’ Elena’s mental alarms started blaring and blinking red on that word.

“Yeah. Two can stand by the kitchen door, and one closer to me, that should work” he sighed.

Emma and Elsa rose and moved to the doorway, as Elena made a few steps towards August. He nodded slowly.

“Not you.”

Elsa exchanged places with Elena and he hissed in pain.

“Ah” Elsa looked at her hands in doubt. “So it’s me? But you said I’m not from the same place…?”

Emma sprinted to her and caught her hands in hers.

“You are still our sister, no matter what. And even if…”

August made a moaning sound and curled himself up in the armchair.


“So it seems I’m the only one without magic” Elena sounded a bit miffed. “I feel cheated, but I’m not sure of what.”

They spent the next hour interrogating August – at least that was what it felt like for him. He answered to the best of his knowledge, as honestly as he could, until they finally got to “whys” of the whole thing.

“A Savior?” Emma choked a bit on that word. “Me, a Savior. Of a bunch of fairyland characters?”

“It’s a big bunch” August sighed. “If everything went as it was predicted, then it’s the entire population of Enchanted Forest, sent over here, to the Land Without Magic. Considering this universe does have magic, I’m a bit curious as to how the Queen is feeling right now.”

“And these guys, all of them, can’t just fight their way back? I’m quite sure they know more about all this magic and curse stuff than we do” Elena sounded a little doubtful. “Because if Emma is supposed to learn all of this by herself – no teacher, no help – then I’m almost sure we’re not going to get there before our 28th birthday. To tell the truth, I’m still not really convinced it’s not some kind of elaborate trick. What if someone lied to you? If you were sick, like you say, your memories might have gotten mixed up.”

“And the wooden leg is just a joke?” August asked bitterly. “You can see for yourself.”

He reached down and unlaced his shoe, taking off the sock and rolling up his trouser leg. His polished wooden leg shone in the lamplight.

“I’m sorry, August” Elsa patted his arm. “But if that was supposed to convince us, it’s too pink to be wood.”

“WHAT?” he moaned. “It’s wooden, look. Hear!” he knocked it, the wood giving the slight door-knocking noise.

“Uh-uh” Emma shrugged in disappointment. “I see you’re sure it’s wooden, but we see flesh. I’m very sorry, August. I like you. You seem a rather nice guy. Really. And I see you’re convinced you’re telling the truth. But I think you should go now. It was fun when it lasted, but we’re not taking part in whatever they told you to fool us into.”

August breathed jerkily and curled onto himself where he was sitting, trying obviously to say something and failing.

“Why is your leg wood?” a tiny, clear voice asked from his side and everyone jumped.

Henry’s mussed hair and his Captain America pyjamas were a bit of a contrast to his worried, concerned face.

“Does this hurt?” he prodded the wood carefully. “I thought prosthesis were plastic, one of the kids in the school has a plastic foot…” he trailed off, looking at the grownups staring at him. “What?”

“Henry, do you actually see his wooden leg?” Elsa asked slowly.

“Sure. It’s kind of dark wood, a bit like that box you have in your room, on the shelf? The one with the green top? And it’s shiny, like the kitchen counter.”

“Henry, ale you sure? Can you tell me how… how does his ankle work? Is it also made of wood?”

Henry sat down cross-legged by August’s foot and, completely unconcerned by the weirdness of the situation, surveyed the joint in question with attention.

“It’s like a big wooden ball attached to both the foot and the rest of the leg. I don’t see how it’s attached, but…” he went very quiet and still for a moment.

August was watching the boy with alternating dread and wonder. If they had a kid, it would be all that much harder to convince them to move. But if the kid could convince them he was telling the truth…!

Henry slowly picked himself up and went to the bookcase.

“Mum?” he called finally “it looks like this.”

He was holding up a book and August knew with painful certainty which exact book it was. He breathed deeply as Emma looked at the page and then back at him.

“I suppose you’ve grown a bit since” she finally said in a very flat voice.

“I suppose so” he coughed again, the whole situation making his asthma kick up. “It’s been twenty seven years after all. I was stuck in my six-year-old body for a long time in the Enchanted Forest, but once we were sent here, I’ve started to grow up.”

“And it’s really you? I mean, you’re really him?” she weaved Collodi’s novel around for emphasis. “And your father…?”

“He’s in there, with the others. If he survived” he added hastily. “Which is not guaranteed for any of them, except for your own family and the Queen. Her whole plan was to make their life hell, so she would have kept them alive, if only to see them suffer.”

“What a delightful thought” Elena grimaced and plucked the book from Emma’s hand. “Really, that’s you? And the donkey and all?”

“No, Collodi added some stuff. I mean, basically what he wrote almost matches. Like all the fairy tales in this world, you know. Dwarfs do not wear slouchy hats and are much taller, your mother doesn’t run around the forest in a fancy dress and the Wolf doesn’t… well. You’ll meet that one, too.”

Elena pressed her hand to her breast in a theatrical way.

“My childhood is gone! I was sure the tiny guys were so adorable! I was in love with Grumpy for a long time!”

August shrugged.

“He’s a rather nasty character, but I can tell you he likes your mother. After I got here and I started watching cartoons and reading books, I tried to match what is said here to what I knew about our actual world. I’m quite sure there must have been people moving between worlds before us, to get so many details right, but they had to either observe from a distance, or they wanted to obscure some facts, as they wrote an enormous amount of it wrong. Also, the timelines are shot, and I’m really trying not to think about it too much, as it means Collodi wrote my story way before I feel I was born, even if I count in all the years I was living as a six year old.”

Henry looked from the book up at August.


Emma wordlessly hugged his shoulders with one hand.

“He’s really Pinocchio?”

August shrugged and nodded.

“I am. Or at least, I was when I was back home. Here, my name is August Booth and I’m a writer” he smiled sadly. “Not very successful, mind you, but still, it’s a job.”

Henry blinked a few times, trying to work out the meaning of all that was said.

“And… which way are you turning?”

It was August’s time to think for a longer moment.

“What do you mean? Left and right, I suppose.”

“No. Are you wood and turning real, or real and turning into wood?”

All four residents watched August as he quietly squirmed in the stuffed armchair.

“Ah. That is the question of the day, my boy. I’m afraid I am turning into wood. That’s why I’d very much prefer if you believed in what I’m saying. Because I really don’t want to see what happens when the change gets much higher.”

Written by Srebrna

2016/11/27 at 22:30

Posted in Splinters

Splinters 13: Like the day before

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“I’m getting suspicious” Elena gulped her coffee and poked the stack of mail in front of her. “No crap happened since last weekend, so it’s ten days with absolutely nothing interesting going on around us. I feel like just before the storm.”

“I hope there is no storm” Henry applied to his scrambled eggs. “We have a trip today and we are going to spend all day in the park.”

“Not this kind of storm, kiddo” Emma fixed his collar and tried to make his hair lay flat. As soon as she finished, he combed them back with his left hand – right still shovelling the eggs into his mouth.

“One day, Henry, you’re going to mix up which hand goes where and you’re going to end up with the fork stuck into your hair” Elsa remarked from over her tablet. “And then I’ll drive you to school like this.”

“Mum! Aunt Elsa is being mean!” he stuck a tongue at the offender and then swallowed the last of his eggs and chased them up with a gulp of juice.

“Actually, if she did, you’d look like Ariel.”

The juice sprayed from the five-year-old’s mouth and nose as he choked in outrage.

By liberal approach to the driving regulations Emma got him to school on time – freshly washed, shirt and jumper changed at the very last second.

“I’m afraid Henry’s not going to submit this project” Elsa said very, very calmly, as she looked the teacher in the eye. “I know it’s a graded one, but I think I should advise you to rethink the idea of handing this kind of a task to children every again.”

The young – younger than Elsa, probably – teacher waved her hands and shuffled the papers in front of her.

“Then Henry’s total grade will be much lower than it could be” she started, in slightly condescending tone. “I don’t understand, what is so complicated with such a simple assignment. All the children are doing it.”

Elsa counted to five in her thoughts.

“And how many of these children are, in fact, coming from partial families? Do all of them even know their grandparents?”

“How can you not know your grandparents?”

The girl was so naively honest. Or honestly naive. Whichever that was, it did not bode well for her future in the education area.

Such a pity Elsa thought. She seemed rather reasonable in September.

“Very easily. If your parents are orphans and came from a group home, never staying in a foster home, then they don’t have any traditional family – or foster family – meetings to tell stories about. If your parents are orphans, then there is no family heirloom to hand down the generations. In Henry’s case, the family history is “I have a mother and two aunts and they were raised in an orphanage. And then I was born. The end.”” Elsa smiled thinly. “Are you sure you want him to read this out loud, in front of everyone?”

“But, but…” the teacher froze up for a moment. “What about the father? He must have some family?”

Elsa rolled her eyes, which she was usually very careful not to do.

“Also, not everyone has a father worth mentioning in a public place. Really, you sure you have only students from full, proper, multi-generational families who retain all relationships? Or maybe half of them lie when writing this stuff and cry quietly because of the way this is asked. Let’s hit them a few more times, what do you say? Let’s punish the children who won’t bring a Daddy for the Father’s Day play, hm? Or maybe make them prepare a show and tell with something that belonged to their grandparents? Why don’t you throw in some genealogical research and drawing a tree of minimum three generations?” Elsa sniffed and straightened. “I hope, i really hope, you will consider not humiliating a big part of your students any more. Henry will most definitely not be writing any of those, or taking part in them. I’ll go to department of education, or whatever that is called, if this affects Henry’s grade too much, too.”

Henry sighed as he sat in front of his supper and prodded the grilled cheese sandwich with his finger without much interest.

Emma reached to touch his forehead but he ducked his head and frowned.

“‘M not sick” he mumbled.

“Why aren’t you eating then?”

He shrugged. A five-year-old shrug is an expressive movement, especially if said five-year-old is usually a very talkative fellow.

“Sooo… something at the school?”

He shrugged and nodded, pulling the juice glass closer to himself.

“Sooo… problems with other kids?”

Shrug. Henry sipped some juice and made a great performance of swallowing it.


“Not with kids” he finally uttered.

Emma strode around the table and sat next to him.

What happened?” she asked, rubbing his back. “I’m sure I don’t like how this sounds…”

He frowned again, looking angrily at his sandwich.

“It’s Miss Tallard. She said…” he thought for a moment. “She said she doesn’t know how to talk to me now. She was standing in the corridor and talking to some other teacher and said she’s so weirded out she doesn’t know what to do with me now, and how to talk, because she’s afraid she’s going to say something wrong.”

“Oh, dear. Elsa must have scared her a bit too much” Emma sighed, closing her eyes and pressing the bridge of her nose for a moment. “OK, next time I’m the one doing the talking. Sorry, Henry. Elsa went to explain to your teacher that some homework you got was not a very good idea, and she probably went all lawyer on her. You know Elsa is a bit scary like this, right?”

He nodded, but still frowned.

“Can we…” he hesitated a bit. “Could aunt Elsa not scare any more of my teachers? I mean, I don’t like doing stupid homework, but I think Miss Tallard doesn’t like me now very much.”

It wasn’t as if they had a lot of privacy in their tiny apartment, but at least every personal nook was separated with a curtain to allow each of them some “me time”.

Elsa used the fact that her bed was by a large, deep-set window and furnished the sill with a mattress and some pillows. Now she curled in on herself, hugging one of them.

Her stomach hurt. It didn’t happen very often, but always after a confrontation in which she let her inner lawyer come to the surface. Which, surprisingly, didn’t happen at the office at all. Only when dealing with stressful social situations. And then usually in the cases where she found later she went overboard. Getting Emma out of the hospital and taking the money for the staff’s behaviour? Piffle, not even a twinge. Bossing her way into a police station when their car was mixed up for someone else’s and impounded? Perfectly ok. Talking to a teacher and apparently scaring her out of her wits? This she paid for. Painfully.

The world seemed to be pressing on her, as if her skin was gone and every movement of the air scraped against her bare nerves. The hairs on her hands seemed to vibrate on their own, Even the hair on her head hurt a bit.

She combed through it furiously, trying to get rid of the feeling that there was electricity gathering around her head.

The blue-and-silver striped curtain moved.

“WHAT?” Elsa blurted, feeling the air movement on her overheated face like a slap.

Emma slipped by the edge of the curtain and silently sat next to her on the window seat. Carefully reaching out she enfolded Elsa in a hug.

Suddenly all the electricity and the tenderness and the rawness feeling was gone. And when the second pair of arms went around her and the third blonde head joined her sisters, the general feel of wrongness in the room dissipated with something like a snap, and Elsa’s knotted stomach relaxed enough for her to unravel herself from the pillow.

Unnoticed, the tiny bleeding ulcer she managed to work herself into quietly healed, leaving no sign of ever having been there.

The pirate movie was not exactly targeted at children Henry’s age, but Elena’s idea to make it a family thing turned out to be a big success. Henry was delighted with the animation, while the sisters left the cinema sniggering about the dodo, the Suspiciously Curvaceous Pirate and discussing the pros and cons of having an animation done with the voices of Hugh Grant, Martin Freeman and David Tennant.

“I do admire the level of performance they gave, as their accents did add a certain something to the movie, but I’m not really getting…” she shrugged “…this. I mean, nice voices, yes. So what?”

“Oh, come on, Elsa. It’s like the Puss in Boots done by Banderas. You just love the furry guy some more because of this.”

“And that rat in “Flushed Away”. The movie itself was fine, but Jackman!”

Elsa rolled her eyes and strode ahead of them, towing Henry along.

“Come on, kid. Let’s go and get some ice cream and let them drool over some animated pirates alone. I’m so not taking part in this discussion!”

Emma’s days were rather long as she declined – even though they repeatedly offered – to let her sisters wake up early and prepare Henry for school. She knew that Elsa was a night owl and waking at 6:30, although quite possible, was a very very bad thing for her. Even half an hour made a difference. Elena, quite capable of being up and about even at 6, if needed, had absolutely no memory regarding school packing, lunch, proper school dress code and special requirements of specific days, so she could happily get Henry to school with nothing to drink, no sandwich and no pencil case.

At 6:30, in March, it was cold. Not as cold as in January, of course, but still the ceramic floor of their kitchen bit into her soles painfully and she hopped from one foot to the other waiting for the microwave to ping as the milk was getting heated.

Elena drifted by, snagging the orange juice from the fridge and drinking it straight from the bottle, ignoring Emma’s sounds of disgust.

“You now drink the whole thing and buy a new bottle for Henry for the afternoon, do you hear me, miss?”

“Yeah, sure. Whatever you say, Mommy.”

Emma was very good at throwing small things, so Elena soon found herself pelted with bottlecaps from one of the drawers.

“Mom? Can I have the cocoa now?”

“BLAST IT!” Emma ran to the microwave and opened it only to have the foamy milk splash from the oven onto the counter and her bare feet.

“You’re having tea today, I’m afraid” Elena drawled from her spot on the sofa.

Henry was done with his homework and had to make a tough choice between bothering mom and getting something more to do and sitting quietly in the window by himself and finding something to do.

He counted items on the street carefully.

Five sedan cars.

Six vans.

One trash truck.

Seven kids on bicycles.

One motorcycle.

He yawned. Nothing interesting. Even the motorcycle guy looked like absolutely nobody exciting.

Written by Srebrna

2016/11/27 at 22:15

Posted in Splinters

Splinters 12: Sensitive and sweet

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“How many mothers do you have?”

Henry blinked.

“Just one” he shrugged. “How many mothers can you have?”

“Suzy has two. But she has two different mothers” Thomas explained matter-of-factly. “And my mum says your mum shows in more than one place at once.”

“Well, I have one mother, but I have two aunts” Henry replied. “It’s just that they look a lot like Mum, so some people are confused.”

“Weird. How can the look the same?”

Henry shrugged. They always looked like this and he never understood the sensation they created when they went out together. He always had his mother, his aunt Elsa and his aunt Elena. They definitely weren’t identical, even though everyone said they were. He just knew which one was which – by the way they moved, by the shapes of their faces, by their voices. He never understood how people can claim they are unable to tell them apart.

He added a piece of roof to his castle and sat there, looking at it, as deep in thought as a four-year-old may be.


Henry looked very serious, in his dinosaur pyjamas and under a star-printed comforter.

“Anything wrong, kid?”

He shrugged and grimaced.

“Are we weird?”

Emma’s face paled a bit as she sat next to him on the bed.

“Why are you asking?”

Henry squirmed a little.

“There is a boy, at daycare. He asks all sorts of questions about you and I…”

She sighed.

“What kind of questions?”

“Like, why are there three of you. And he meant you, as in, why do I have three mums. I tried to explain to them that you are actual, like, separate people, and the you are not actually identical, but he doesn’t believe me. He says there must be something wrong with me, because I have three identical mothers.”

“Oh my” Emma leaned to him and patted his cheek. “Henry, kids are stupid like this sometimes. They see something they don’t get – like us being triplets – and they make up an explanation that works for them. Then they work with that explanation and try to fit the world to it. He thinks that there is something weird about me and so in his head he makes you also weird. There aren’t so many triplet sets in the world, so most people wouldn’t have seen one. Also, we all live together and that makes people even more confused.”

“So… Thomas just doesn’t know what triplets are?”

“And so he thinks our family is somehow wrong. But nothing is wrong about us and if someone comes and says it to you, you can tell them to” Emma heroically swallowed ‘stuff it’ and finished with “talk to me, and I will explain it to them” ‘slowly’ she added silently.

Henry’s eyes slowly closed and he burrowed under his covers, a bit deeper. He frowned and yawned deeply.

“And…” he trailed off, falling asleep in the middle of the sentence.

“Yes, and. Always an and for us, kiddo” Emma sighed and closed the tiny book she didn’t get to read to him that evening.

She was rather proud of him for the way he reported the whole situation, but in the long run they had to plan for dealing with such situations themselves, before it became a problem for Henry.

Written by Srebrna

2016/11/21 at 22:12

Posted in Splinters

Splinters 11: Usual morning lineup

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At some point they gave up trying to understand. The world was obviously ready only for “traditional” families, and that didn’t cover them in any possible way. The best they could do to describe their situation was “single mother with one child, supported by her closest relatives”. Which only meant that every document, every power of attorney, and even signing up for Henry’s daycare was a challenge of explaining to general public the whys and hows of their daily life.

“Please list who is also authorised to pick Henry up. We have a very strict list of carers, and if someone is not on it, the child doesn’t leave”

Emma nodded and started filling in the form.

“Also, please provide telephone contacts to all possible family members we could contact in case of emergency.”

“What kind of emergency can there be in a daycare center?”

The headmistress shrugged.

“Anything from a bloody nose to a problem with water mains. I suppose all parents would prefer to pick up the kids in case we have a problem with water supply…”

Emma nodded noncommittally and added Elsa and Elena in the provided spaces.

“Please fill this in correctly” the headmistress returned the form. “You need to also provide your partner’s information.”

Emma sighed.

“I have no partner. It’s me and my sisters. Is that a problem?”

Raised eyebrows.

“Not as such, but I need to know if you and the father of the child are sharing custody or… I mean, if we suddenly get a man, claiming he’s Henry’s father, we need to know what is the situation.”

Emma shivered at the thought.

“You won’t, I assure you. Henry has no other family but us.”

“Really, what are they thinking? I understand that a single parent is not the norm, but there are so many families that don’t match the social norm… and so many reasons, from domestic abuse to death! And why would I mention some guy on the form just to make sure he will not be treated as a parent?”

Emma held her tiny, dark-haired son to her shoulder. After the day she had, the simple therapeutic action of hugging the toddler seemed to be the best thing to do. The way Henry curled up against her and fell asleep felt like a balm for her soul. His head pressed into the crook of her neck, his breathing slow and even, his small fists curled tightly, he was a living medicine. Just his smell – maybe slightly mixed with the smell of soap and crayon wax – made her relax.

She sighed, as Elsa sat next to her and slowly peeled Henry off of her.

“Probably they assume that their daycare is fancy enough to only bring in proper high-quality customers, and not vagabonds and weirdos like us. Considering the percentage of non-full-families in the middle class, I’d say they are in for a disappointment…”

Henry nestled in her hold, pressing his face into her sweater and mumbling something.

“I’m putting this one to bed. You try to relax, these people are just not worth your nerves.”

Elsa loved watching Henry sleep. He was so… stable. Unlike most things in their lives, he was – more or less – unchangeable. Or rather, predictable. He grew, he learned new things, he progressed, but it was the proper kind of change, the natural one. Not something that happened in leaps and turned the reality around them into an unknown.

She watched as he stretched, yawned and turned on the other side, making small, cat-like noises.

“Elsie! I think we need something hot! Could you heat up the milk? It’s freezing outside and Henry’s nose is getting blue.”

“And I catched some snow on my tongue! Is it going to turn blue too, Mum?” he looked at Emma with sudden anxiety.

“It should not, kid, but only if aunt Elsa makes that hot chocolate for us a-s-a-p! Come on, out of that jacket. It’s wet all the way through!”

Elsa appeared in the kitchen door and watched them in surprise.

“How did he manage to get that wet?”

“Well, he found the biggest pile of slightly-melted-but-not-quite snow and rolled in it before I caught him. So, basically, I think his underwear may be, but just may be dry. Come on, kiddo, strip and put on these” she handed him a pair of soft pyjama bottoms. “And wash your hands.”

They sat at the kitchen counter – “wide enough for three and a half” as Elena called it – and sipped their chocolate, as Elsa joined them, holding a tall glass of iced tea.

“Aunt Elsa? Why are you drinking that cold stuff?”

She blinked and thought for a moment.

“I don’t really like hot drinks, dear. I think I might have burned my tongue on something long ago and now I can’t really eat anything very warm.”

“Ah” Henry though for a moment, his lips on the rim of the cup. “That’s not good” he finally pronounced. “Chocolate is the very bestest thing to drink. It’s very bad you can’t drink it.”

“The important part is that I can still make it for you” she hugged him, messing up his hair. “You can always drink some in my name.”

Written by Srebrna

2016/11/11 at 22:02

Posted in Splinters