Tension Breaker

Submitted into Contest #144 in response to: Write a story that centres around an Instagram post.... view prompt


American Contemporary Drama

Tension Breaker

It wasn't the greatest of times; it wasn't the worst of times.

Mom had passed and the Smelly Old Man From Across the Lake had come for a visit to pay his disrespects. The Man would visit every 2 weeks for the next 3 months. He had stopped caring about mom ages ago. The Smelly Old Man From Across the Lake had decided long ago that he was too good for his family and abandoned them. If they didn't want the criticism or hatred or any of the other parasitic behavior that he had to offer, he'd moved on with his life and leave them all behind. As surviving spouse, he still had to be notified of his wife's death. And being the Smelly Old Man that he was, he couldn't pass up an opportunity to take advantage of his, already traumatized, and abused daughter. (What better victim to con than a child grieving for their lost mother?)

The Smelly Old Man visited his daughter for the funeral. He had bent over backwards patting himself on the back for donating a paltry sum of $1000 to the costs of travel, cremation, headstone, and burial of his wife. His daughter ended up taking out a loan to cover the overwhelming remaining costs. The Smelly Old Man couldn't wait to take more from his family. He saw the comfortable lifestyle his daughter had worked hard to set up for herself and was jealous. He wanted that lifestyle for himself, just not everything that was in it. The Smelly Old Man did want to replace three things in his daughter's life before stealing it as his own: His Daughter, Her Husband, and her Cat.

Subduing his daughter was easy enough, or so the Smelly Old Man thought. He'd beaten her mother into the ground to get her to submit and Mary looked just like her . Her husband would be trickier. The Smelly Old Man had given himself permission to make nasty comments and order his son-in-law around. The son-in-law didn't  listen or take direction. He was an obstacle that couldn't be overcome.

The son-in-law was well aware that The Smelly Old Man had taken more than his fare share from his own daughter. He loved his wife too much to let the Smelly Old Man take her soul. There was no way the Smelly Old Man was going to get around his Son-in-law, no matter how much nonsense the Smelly Old Man spewed.

The last obstacle in stealing his daughter's life, was his daughter's cat. He might have been unsuccessful in getting around his Son-in-law. But the cat was just a dumb animal, in his eyes. He thought the cat would be easy to handle. He'd try the strategy of 'making nice' with the furball by buying a flopping fish toy for the cat. Mary appreciated the gift for her cat by opening the box. "Thank you, Dad. I'm sure Witney will appreciate it too."

"You should have a dog." grunted The Smelly Old Man . He wanted to replace his daughter's cat with his dog before taking over her lifestyle.

"Well, Dad, I have a cat." Mary's expression was deadpan. She looked down, a lot. "Would you like to give her a treat? You can use it to introduce yourself to her. Her name is Witney." Mary opened the tote of Soup and pulled out a little cup. Witney, alerted to the familiar sound, was up and walking the length of the back of the couch. She liked soup and wanted it. "Come on, Dad, this way." Mary led her father around to sit on the couch. The Smelly Old Man followed his daughter. Witney followed the soup, one way on the back of the couch and then the other. The humans had to walk around the couch to sit down, Witney just had to jump over. Before giving it to her. Witney's Mama opened the little cup of soup and handed it to the Smelly Old Man. "Hold the soup upright, so it doesn't spill, and place your hand on the armrest, Witney will take care of the rest. She loves soup."

"Ok" The Smelly Man did as told. He felt repulsed by the cat. He grunted and grumbled . Witney finished her soup and washed up. The Smelly Old Man shook his head in dismay at the animal. Mary discarded the empty cup in the trash.

When Mary returned, she pointed to a nearby rocking chair. "Dad,  the last time you were here, you complained that our couch was too uncomfortable for you. To accommodate, I cleaned out an old rocking for you ." Mary watched The Smelly Old Man sink into his rocking throne. "We also picked up an air mattress and  bedding for you to use . I hope it's comfortable enough for you." Mary fidgeted.

The Smelly Old Man ignored his daughter. She had always been beneath him. Mary slumped onto the couch. Witney finished washing her face and went to lounge behind her mama's head. Mary looked defeated.

The Smelly Old Man decided that it was time for nonsense. Pipe dreams , general hate speech, racial slurs. Mary had heard it all before. She could tune out most of it. The personal comments and attacks were hard to take.

Mary reached her hand up to scratch Witney behind the ears. Witney purred her response to the attention she was being given. When Mary put her hand down, Witney got up and stretched. She went over to the Smelly Old Man and sniffed. Mary watched and smiled. "Dad? Do you see Witney?" The Smelly Old Man glared at the cat. "She's saying 'hello' in her own way."

"What?!" The Smelly Old Man grunted at Witney. "I fed you!" He snarled.

"Dad!" Mary called. "Be nice. Witney isn't going to hurt you. She's just curious. She's my baby girl princess."

The Smelly Old Man shook his head, again. "I'd never be able to accept anything that ugly."

"Dad..." Mary tried but gave up. She had long since accepted that her father's negative opinion of everything she loved and held dear. That acceptance didn't stop the hurt that the negativity caused. Witney sneezed and shook her head. Then she jumped down from the couch and wandered off.

The Smelly Old Man resumed his epithets. Mary stared blankly into space. On occasion, she'd stop and stare at the rambling Smelly Old Man. He noticed that she was looking.

Harry, Mary's husband went to sit by his wife. He had heard everything the Smelly Old Man was saying. The language steadily pissed him off. Mary might be used to this nonsense but he wasn't. Harry listened and scanned the words coming out of the Smelly Old Man's mouth. If the Smelly Old Man went too far, Harry would defend his wife.

"I threw away every letter you ever sent me-" The Smelly Old Man stated. Mary sat stunned and shocked by the callousness of her own father's words.

"NO!" Harry roared. "You sir, will not have this discussion with your daughter. Not here. Not now. Not Ever!"

The Smelly Old Man silenced his ramblings. Mary returned to life, encouraged by her knight's ability to defend her. "Thank you." She said to Harry. Mary took Harry's hand and squeezed.

The Situation was tense. Mary got up from the couch. She walked around it and saw the cutest thing ever. Her heart melted.

Witney had decided that the air mattress made up for the Smelly Old Man to sleep on was hers. She laid on it having a nap.

"Daddy!" Mary hissed with delight, getting the attention of the Smelly Old Man and Harry. "Uh.. . Witney's Daddy. Come and look at your baby girl princess, I'm getting my phone." The tension in the room disappeared as the focus was shifted to the adorable little girl on the air mattress. Mary took a picture with her phone. Mary posted the picture to her Instagram.

The Smelly Old Man was unimpressed. Three strikes and he was out. He would never be able to claim his daughter's life as his own.

May 06, 2022 03:11

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