“I’ll put the little blighter downstairs.”

I hear that. Instantly, I am transported back to a time that’s, technically, still in the ‘future.’

Sometimes, I remember. A soft firelight. A comfortable leather chair. It’s red; like cherry-wood; like bleeding oak. The fact that it’s made out of a Cow disgusts me; makes me wince.

It smells like chocolate. Like cherry-red smoke from the finest of all cigars. In this time, I can’t remember if we stole them from that rounded office; or, if we’ve depleted those, and we were gifted them, afterwards, from Cuba.

The little ones play. I remember their little voices, but I do not hear them. I see them darting through the house; multiple viewpoints, from multiple doorways. I see slivers of their forms.

There are three. No, four. Five. There are five, and two more. They are being chased. But it is happy; for it is for a game.

There is a Blonde one. And she’s the most-rambunctious. That one is the most like me, I think. And that worries me. I worry about her almost as much as I worry about the little white-haired one. As for the red-haired— I worry about her the least. For she’s the most like her own Mother.

Orange flesh, white flesh, green flesh, silver flesh. Tan; silver. Silver.

She comes through the door, smelling like applewood. She is holding a laundry basket. There is a fine Cuban cigar held in Her shark-like teeth. In Her other arm, Her left— dominant– She holds what looks to be a crocodile. An alligator. It is Her pet. The other one is off playing with Our children.

“Do you want to smoke, Love?” She asks me, through Her teeth. She is struggling, and somewhat failing, to keep the ash out of the laundry. She looks down, and then, back up at me. I almost cannot tell where She is looking. “That’ll warsh right out,” She says, before hauling off with… everything.

“Do you want to smoke?” She asks again, heading down the hallway. The washroom is downstairs; just like in my home house. “I’ll put the little blighter downstairs,” She says, carrying Her dog down the flights of stairs. She says that because the thing, which once tried to bite my arms off, in another life,

I look at my walls. They are bare. Bare, unlike that of my uncle’s; I do not know where he is. But I suspect that, even in this universe, he beats his wife. Cops; they’re all alike.

My uncle had dead deer all over his walls. A naked picture of some girl; painted. Not real. Looked like the Virgin Mary. What a pig. I look at the place where it would be on my wall, if I had not burnt it. I wouldn’t put it up, of course; but I think that I’m looking north. That’s the wall it’d be on, in his own room.

“Don’t bother,” I yell to Her. I think at Her; She doesn’t quite hear. She puts the laundry down; brings the lizard up. Puts it down. It comes running at me. I don’t really worry about it, much; it’s much too cute to worry about. At most, it frays the bottoms of my jeans.

“Hey, do the trick,” I say, holding up a cigar. She scoffs, and smiles at me. She has such a pleasant smile.

She blows fire at me. For an ordinary person, it might singe their eyebrows; burn their eyeballs. It lights my cigar. I bite it, and try to puff. I have not yet cut the end off. It does not work.

She hands me the cigar cutter. It is always in Her cut-off bluejeans.

I bring it to my face, and start cutting into the cigar without looking.

I look into the mirror.

My seafoam-green eyes burn.

I hate myself.

I did everything right, and yet, I cannot stop seeing the monster that I had to be.

I am afraid of me.

I am disgusted at the very sight.

I hold myself in ultimate contempt.

We sit in deck chairs. I believe that’s what they are called. Those things that lonely women sit in, by the poolside; waiting to get fucked. I’d like to get fucked. I’d like to get fucked up the ass.

I look at the running children, and I realize how much work it is to create a world that they deserve.

I do not feel anger. I do not feel aggravation. I simply know that I cannot get fucked up the ass. I have about 12 hours more of a shift left, taking care of my children. Then— perhaps, when everyone’s off to bed— and if someone doesn’t try to nuke us again— Her and I can have five solid minutes. But even then— even then. I feel so undeserving.

I did everything right.

I don’t even deserve to get fucked up the ass.

“Well, this is boring,” She says to me. She smiles; She smirks. There’s something about Her that made me like Her above all other women. Not even above; I don’t like women. I don’t like men. I don’t like anybody. She’s bubbly, and bouncy, and I love Her. I loved Her before I was even born.

“Do you think you should want to see a movie?” She asks.

Her voice.

For years now, I’ve been trying to articulate just what She sounds like. I’ve gone with video game characters; actually, those are the only ones I’ve ever found that sound like Her. She has an Australian accent. There is absolutely no reason for Her to have an Australian accent. I even have a touch of it. I don’t think it came from that year in Australia.

She’s sounds like Ellie from Dead Space 2. She sounds like Oerba Yun Fang from Final Fantasy XIII. She is thoroughly, and yet, not obnoxiously Australian, in a way I could never dream up.

She could say ‘razor blades’ and it’d sound like ‘rise up lights’ in American English.

She offers me something. “Elizabeth and Lilith can always watch them.” She says, looking over at the kids. Elizabeth and Lilith, despite being frighteningly tall, are still our kids. Having your kids babysitting your kids is not exactly the sort of parenting I would feel proud of.

“Only if we take them.” I smile.

She smiles at me. Leans in even closer. Arms over Her knees. “I wouldn’t suggest it any other way.”

I’m waiting for it. In the back of my head, I know it’s coming.

I still take a drink of my lemon iced tea.

She whispers in my ear. “I could fuck you up the ass first if it would make you—“

I spittake straight into the pool.

The kids stop running. Alice, the Blonde one, looks over to me.

Alice loves to mock me.

“Pfft!” she enunciates.

“Aww, Dad!” she complains about me spitting into the pool.

For a moment, I feel peace.