Rated PG; fantasy violence
“It doesn’t count if you’re already planning your defeat.”
Andrea ignores me. She slides the sword into its hilt and straightens up. "I don't understand. This is what you wanted me to do."
I grab her shoulder. I can feel the metal of her fitted armor. "I wanted you to stop wallowing in sadness, not go and play hero."
She rolls her eyes and pushes my hand away. The house has an eerie feeling to it. Our breakfast plates, abandoned on the table, have attracted fruit flies. The living room's couches were scrubbed yesterday after Jay spilled orange juice on them--he slipped, causing it to fling in all directions. The front door, with the keys still on the hook we got for Christmas on the left wall, is sturdy and silent. Andrea stares at our home. We've stayed out of the war for six years. She's throwing it all away.
She faces me. "I love you. I do. But we've been reliving the same day for too long. Look at us! We haven't gotten any older. Nothing outside our property even stays in place the next day. We can break the bubble if we ask."
I stare at her incredulously. "We made this bubble so we'd be safe! You don't have a plan, Andrea. You're going to die."
"I'll be careful."
I lean against the wall we painted purple. "lie. You're going to dive in headfirst and get hurt, like always."
"We've been eating the same food, watching the same shows, cleaning the same stains for years. It's boring. Is it so wrong I want a break from quarantine?"
The grandfather clock--that ironically came from my Grandma-- chimes 10 o'clock. Me and Andrea quickly go to our positions. I scuffle to the kitchen, hands out in front of the glass vase.
Three, two, one.
A scream comes from outside. The signal. A big shake rocks the house. Our fish tank and dishes have been tied down. I tried to do it with this vase, but it broke anyways. The swirls of pink and turquoise drop neatly in my arms. Andrea scoops up the pictures of us and our family before they hit the hardwood floor and break. However, she forgets to stop the bowl from falling over. It smashes, spreading glass around the room. She's just distracted.
"I'll clean that up." she stutters, heading to the kitchen.
I smile. "See? I need you here. We get through this day in sync, after so many tries. If you leave, I can't do this on my own."
Andrea drops the broom that she found in the closet and walks over to me. She places her hands on my waist and kisses me. It's the only warmth I've had all morning--almost making up for the frost she's put in my heart. It's unlike her to use her charms to get what she wants. She pulls away. "Our life was normal before. We could walk to the park without being blasted. Jay could see his friends. No one was trying to kill us. I give myself up, she'll give us more time."
I gently run my hand down her cheek. "She won't keep her promise. She'll stab you in the back. I expect quite literally. She's not our friend anymore."
Andrea groans. "I'll be fine. I promise to come home, okay?"
Andrea didn't laugh at my joke. And she groaned at me? What's going on today? She also promised me something. She never promises. I take a few steps away from her. "What is wrong with you? You said you'd never leave Jay."
Andrea fixes the rubber band holding her hair in a messy bun. Strands still fall out. "I'm looking out for us. All of us."
I slowly head towards the stairs. The floorboards creak. "You're leaving because you're bored. The troops are doing fine on their own. You're pretending to fight for a noble cause, when really you just want a fried egg."
Andrea goes after me as I start to climb the stairs. "I haven't had an egg in over half a decade, but that's not why. I love you and Jay. I just want to be there for you."
I quicken my pace, making it to the landing. Cautiously, I get the words out. "We don't own any armor."
Andrea slides in behind me. The blue carpet electrocutes me, but I stand still.
"I picked it off a corpse. They're everywhere, honey."
Her voice is almost a hiss.
I concentrate all my rage in my left hand. A swirl of red begins to swim around my fingers. "Honey? You've never called me that before."
Her face is confused. "I haven't?"
I nod. "And neither you, Jay, or I can leave the house without triggering an alarm."
I bring my palm over my head, and gulp. "Not to mention Andrea hates fried eggs."
I bring the red down on her head. She freezes before tumbling down the stairs. She bangs her head on the back wall. It echoes. As she staggered to her feet, she changes. Her appearance is being pulled back, revealing someone underneath. Wisps of smoke disappear, revealing a man with light skin. His brown hair has streaks of red in it. He's wearing the same armour though. His cat-like eyes are blue with slits in the middle. He stands up and looks at me with disdain. Blood is trickling down her face. I gasp. I hold out my hand again, the magic working much faster now. Electricity bounces off my arm. I throw it like a ball. It crackles and hits the walls, making them explode. The man ducks as fast as he can. I gulp as the words come out of my mouth. "Tell me right now. Where is my wife?"
He has warm abilities. His whole body ripples with heat. He flies right up to me and knocks me over. I tumble backwards and slip on the rug. "It took you too long." He pants.
I stumble as I try to charge a spell. "You're a good actor."
Paint and drywall hangs in the air. A foam I don't recognize is spilled all over my floor. A terrifying thought pops into my head. Jay. I send out a feeling of thunder. The grey clouds materialize over the man's head and burst in his ears. He covers them and screams in pain. My feet thump as I run to my son's room. I fling open the door. The room's a disaster. Dolls and action figures strewn everywhere. A bed with the blankets torn off. His special purple lamp is lying on the floor, bashed in. The window is open, sending a draught into the room. In the corner, the two most important people in the world lie on the ground, unconscious. Some sort of force field is emanating around them. I sprint to them and get on my knees. I press my palm on the field. It buzzes before breaking. Andrea coughs and sits up fast. Her pupils are dilated as she spots me. I throw my arms around her. Andrea hugs me back. "The woman- I- we need to-"
"I know." I whisper.
We separate and she gives me a quick kiss. She notices the bruise on my forehead. "What happened?"
Before I can answer, the door is knocked off its hinges. The man inhales as he sees Andrea. "Oh no. Wendy isn't going to like this."
Andrea gets up. "Wendy did this? I'm not surprised."
She swings her arm forward. ice freezes the man's legs. It lifts him up. He struggles to get free of it, but his emotion isn't strong enough. A terrible rage is coursing through Andrea's veins. Her wrist glows as she flings the man sideways. I hear the breaking of glass. Andrea's flung him out the window. "How did he get past the bubble? We haven't left the house in months."
I think about this for a second. "Jay opened the door yesterday to let a ladybug out."
As if on cue, Jay mumbles something in his sleep. The spell didn't break when the force field stopped working. I widen my eyes. "He's using Jay as an anchor!"
Without hesitation, me and Andrea are at Jay's side. "Come on, honey, wake up." Andrea prompts.
She holds a hand over his face. Shimmering magic tickles him. He doesn't move. I put my hand on his arm and give him a small shock. Nothing. Andrea puts a hand on his heart. Like she did when he was a baby. If we can wake Jay up, and push the man outside the bubble, he can't come back. I pray to whatever force is out there. Not for this war to end. That's impossible. It's already killed so much of our families. It may as well go on forever. I stopped asking for that a long time ago. Jay hasn't slept this soundly in a long time, and it's only because of a curse, albeit a weak one. With every part of my soul, I hope we can get to him.
We don't exclaim in delight as Jay's eyes flutter open and he starts crying. Me and Andrea know this won't be the last time Wendy tries to end us. But it will be the last time we let our guard down. I breathe in my son's scent as he grabs me with his tiny fingers. How will we keep our son out of this? And if we can't, how could we possibly train him to kill?