Don’t run up the stairs, Meredith. That was Mother’s warning. You’ll trip on your gangly legs and break your neck, and you will die.
So, I would walk up the stairs.
Past her and Father’s bedroom, floral-scented, drenched in music.
Down the hallway, darker with every step.
To my own tiny bedroom. A single lamp, etched with fairy-tale witches. A bed, uneven and mildewed. Only a stuffed rabbit for a pillow.
I made this feverish trek once a day, immediately after school. No television. No playtime. No friends. Just bed, medicine, and Mother’s juice.
One day, I could climb the steps no more.
Don’t leave bed, Meredith. Mother’s new warning. You’re too confused, and you’ll stumble around and lose your breath, and you will die.
So, I remained in bed.
No one can come, Meredith. Mother’s warning when I begged she call for help. There are no trustworthy doctors in this wretched town, just vulgar men who’ll infect you with their germs, and you’ll hack and hack, and you will die.
So, I clutched my rabbit and only my rabbit.
Slurping that bitter juice.
And when I did, in fact, die, Mother had no warnings left to give. Just sympathy to receive. From Father. From the neighbors. From those vulgar doctors.
But now I have a warning of my own.
I’m coming back to you, Mother. Back to your floral-and-music-drenched room. I’m coming back to you. And I’m running.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Adams is a writer, improviser and communications professional from the United States. His short fiction has been published by Siren’s Call, 101words.org, Potato Soup Journal and Dime Show Review. His plays have been selected for the Midwest Dramatists Conference (2017, 2018, 2019), Alphabet Soup (2018), and the 6x10 Play Festival (2016). He is a founding member of That’s No Movie, a multi-genre improv comedy team that plays at festivals and pop-culture conventions across the U.S. He lives in the Kansas City area, where he produces comedy shows and frets about writing. You can find more from him on http://JohnAmusesNoOne.wordpress.com or on Twitter @JohnAmusesNoOne.