By, Wendiann Alfieri
The Canolds kitchen was the source of activity in the house. Kids, friends, partys, book clubs, food, source of some midnight poker games for Mr. Canold. There was the chair in the corner no one sat in. Mr. and Mrs. Canolds son, Cyle, had not sat in the chair in the corner since his cat died. Bert the Cat Catastrophe loved that chair, scratched it to shreds, not paying mind to the chair moving because of the one damaged chair leg.Boxes gone, put in the uhaul truck. Empty drawers. Now it felt so empty in the house, the chair seemed empty of even Bert the Cat Catastrophe’s spirit.
Routine. Chaos always in the kitchen.
But even the crazy was part of a routine, where the day could be frazzled but it seemed that everything would resolve itself once the canolds sat down to eat dinner
A creak in the floorboard echoed as Mrs. Canold entered the kitchen.
This was really it. They had to move.
She opened the fridge, a single water bottle resting inside. Her son was playing basketball outside in the street. Her heart skipped a beat when she saw a car window down and someone leaned out of it to her 6 year old son
She shoved the water into the fridge, and went outside in haste
The kitchen sat behind her, the water bottle staying as the last remnant of anyone existing there
Mrs. Canold ran out, and called her son to her in her sing songy voice that he always giggled at. Any bad situation that had happened around her son, well, she’d only have to use that voice that sing songy mary poppin's voice and Cyle would forget everything around him and giggle.
He ran to his mom, a fistful of grass shoved in his mouth, because of course her son got his teeth cleaned yesterday, and now he just had to eat grass and dirt.
She was watching him but things happened so fast around there.
It was a home-y neighboorhood, a lot of families lived there
The car that was by Mrs. Canolds house was unfamiliar, and other parents stuck their heads out in confusion, the car covered in a lot of graffiti, the back license plate not there, just a sign that said “fuck you” in its place.
“Excuse me, sir. Can I help you?”
The man in the passenger seat flicked out a cigarette into the street in response
“Have any of you seen a boy?”
The man took a deep breath in
“He ain’t young. He’s 16. But he needs to be found,”
The man gestured his head to the cannolds house.
Mrs. Canold nodded.
“We’ll help look, but we only have so much time” she cautioned
“I can’t be responsible after we-”
“We get it,” a woman driver called out in a thick southern drawl.
“ Cyle, your father is in the back. Go get him”
After her son ran off, she turned, the smell of desperation seeping into her core
“Alright then. Where did you last see him?”
An hour later and everyone on the block was looking for this kid. They didn’t need a photograph, the parents had a leftover sweaty sock of their sons. Mrs. Canold picked up a strong scent from it, then went to work directing the other families on what to do.
they could only help so much
Empathy extended only until it was time for the Canolds to leave.
Motivation wasn’t what was driving the people to help
Everyone knew it.
Mrs. Canold looked around.
Until she saw the rat.
It ran across the street, and she noticed part of the rat was soaked like it was raining istead of beautiful out
The water, Mrs. Canold thought
She pushed past everyone, they were starting to give up. They didn’t have much time left.
When Mrs. Canold finally reached the water, she jumped right in.
A crowd had gathered around the water, waiting waiting
The clock was ticking.
The couple looked at the stopwatch
The water moved as Mrs. Canold emerged, with a living boy who almost drowned in the river of sin.
The couple was ecstatic, they’d made it, they found their boy at the last second
Mrs. Canold looked up at the sky, and down, and up, then straight at the couples eyes.
“The rules are if a human escapes into here, you have to hold the child in your arms, before time runs out”
The couple’s faces dropped
“What the hell!” The man said
“Yes, we are moving back to our fellow demon district. You can only stay so long somewhere before needing to be back where you came from”
Mrs. Canold smiles.
“You should get out of here” a small voice squeaks. The man looked down to see Cyle smiling, right next to the couple
The residents all were smiling, as they made their way towards the boy, ignoring the horrified expressions of the parents
“My son is right, you should head back now. We have no use for you,”
Mrs. Canold sinks her teeth into the boy's shoulder.
Mr. Canold ran through the crowd to be next to her.
“consider yourselves lucky” Mrs. Canold smirks, blood leaking out, dribbling on her chin