Wormwood Files Part IV

"Lila"

(Here's another character who's role has been almost totally cut. I was originally going with a Dickens-type dozens of characters thing, but then came to the realization that I wasn't Charles Dickens.)

Lila Fanon lay in the dark, still awake as it approached midnight. She’d heard the explosions quite clearly, but hadn’t joined the river of curious people flowing down her street. She didn’t feel like getting dressed, finding a flashlight, and gawking with others. She was having one of her bad nights.

She lay in bed, on top of the covers. Her nightgown kept sticking to her skin, so she took it off. Lila swung her legs over the edge of the bed and kneaded the carpet with her toes. Her oldest son, Jeffrey, had only been six years old at the time of the accident. Her youngest son, Parker, had been three. And her ex-husband? Well, Rick had been forty-two, and he’d been driving just a little too fast to avoid the pickup that’d swerved into his lane at the last second, and that was the end of all three of them.

Lila stood up and walked across her bedroom. She didn’t want to go anywhere. The carpet rubbed thick and hot against the soles of her feet. How many fibers beneath her, causing that friction? She kept walking and found herself in the bathroom. The room was very dark. No light came in through the high windows, not even starlight. She stood in the doorway, letting the shapes of things come to her. She could make out the white porcelain bathtub, but when she tried to see her reflection in the mirror it was nothing but a black square, which made sense these days.

Her life hadn’t always been a black square, a void that absorbed even a good man’s love. She’d once been a zealous member of Wormwood’s Baptist church. She’d been a great one for soup suppers, adult Bible study, and fundraiser bake drives. She dwelled happily among the other pasty faced members of the congregation, flitting back and fourth throughout the dim church basement like a slender moth, safe in her sense of purpose, in the belief that she was accomplishing something bigger than herself and that, ultimately, she’d be rewarded for her efforts. God had seemed to be a towering, bright-eyed figure that strolled through the world doing His will and who was she, Lila Fanon, to question his judgment? Sure, it was sad when tornadoes and floods suddenly rose up and wiped out entire groups of people, but surely God had his reasons even for the bad things in life. In the meantime, why not raise money for the homeless and send clothes to the poor in Africa?

Then the boys died. The boys died, and now what did she care about bake sales and impoverished Africans? Obviously her good work in the church meant nothing to God, meant nothing to a higher power who seemed like a callous asshole. So Lila left Wormwood Baptist and spent her days sewing together cuddly toys for children not her own, selling them to parents who probably didn’t fully appreciate how lucky it was to still have a child to buy for, to live with the gummy smell of children.

The floorboards creaked as Lila returned to bed. This time she got under the covers and wrapped them around herself as tightly as possible, as if she were camping in October.

2 comments:

Kelly said...

"The rich, sweet smell of the hayricks rose to his chamber window; the hundred perfumes of the little flower-garden beneath scented the air around; the deep-green meadows shone in the morning dew that glistened on every leaf as it trembled in the gentle air: and the birds sang as if every sparkling drop were a fountain of inspiration to them."

Blogagaard said...

Ah, there's some Dickens. Thanks, K-Dog.

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