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Fiction: Legal Theft Project–Family Changes (556 words)

The lock clicked in a different way when it was opened with a key.  It was a simple and steady motion as the key pushed the tumblers in place, rather than the slight hesitation between each pin. Even though Angel and Oliver had gotten pretty good at picking the lock on the front door—they weren’t as fast or smooth as the key, as Jennifer’s key.

The children all looked at each other, and then at the room around them. If Jennifer’s key was already in the lock it was too late to try to clean up or hide everything they had gotten up to since the last time that Jennifer had been home. Still, they all pulled themselves quickly to their feet, trying to pull their clothes as straight as possible and tying their hair back as tightly as they could, to put up some level of present-ability.

Jennifer came in, turned the lock the door quickly behind her, before turning to smile at the line of children in a sharp row. Her smile only faltered a little as she looked around at the various art projects and destruction of small electronics and what looked to be a small failed chemical experiment in one of the corners. “We’ve been busy while I was away, haven’t we?” she said weakly, turning from the mess back to the six children in front of her.

“Yes Ma’am,” they all answered in unison, each trying to figure out in their own ways just how mad Jennifer actually was.

Jennifer made a show of counting the six of them slowly and pointedly. “Six, all under eleven summers old. We appear to be missing those two who were supposed to be taking care of you all.”

The six children all shifted back and forth on their feet before Margaret—the oldest and bravest of the little ones—spoke up. “They left a couple hours ago,” She informed Jennifer in a clean soprano, “They went out. Together.”

There was a lot of giggling behind hands now. Jennifer crossed her arms over her chest. “What’s all this now?” she asked in her slightly stern voice.

“I saw them,” Benjamin—the youngest, four summers old Jennifer guessed, “They were…kissing.” He whispered the last word as if it was a swear, and the other five children burst into giggles.

Jennifer sighed. It was only a matter of time. Her son Oliver had developed a crush on Angel all those years ago when she first came to stay with their family—the first of the little orphans Jennifer couldn’t help but bring into her home when she found them alone on the streets. She didn’t care if they were together as long as they were both happy. But she did care an awful lot about them neglecting their duties to be together.

“Very well.  What’s say we get to cleaning this place up right now, and I’ll have a talk with Oliver and Angel later, yes?”

“Yes Ma’am,” They call chorused again, before heading away to start the cleaning process following their well-practiced routines. Jennifer pinched the bridge of her nose almost unconsciously, before sighing. It was bad enough now that just the two of them were teenagers. What in the world was she going to do when the six little ones were teenagers too?

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2017 in Legal Theft Project, Stories

 

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Fiction: Legal Theft Project–News (581 words)

She blinked. She opened her mouth and closed it again without saying anything. She back hard in her chair. She blinked.

“Mrs. Jones? Are you feeling okay?”

She blinked hard this time, and her eyes seemed to actually focus on the room around her. “I am so sorry. I don’t think I quite heard that. Would you mind saying it again?”

Dr. Elizabeth Anderson smiled to herself, looking back down to the file. She’d seen this reaction before. It was one of the easier reactions to deal with. Far better than the times when women would attack at her and accuse her of ruining their lives—as if she actually had anything to do with it. But, worse than when the women lit up with joy and declared it the best news they had ever heard. It really was a diagnosis that ran all along the spectrum.

“Mrs. Jones. The blood work has come back, and the pregnancy test was positive. You are pregnant.” She held out the sheet for the woman to see, even those most of the page would be Greek to the layman.  Mrs. Jones blinked again, and Dr. Anderson wondered how many times she was going to have to repeat this, when a smile grew across Mrs. Jones’ face.

“That is great news,” she said calmly, but smiling from ear to ear. “Could you write that down, please? Sign it for me. I feel my husband is going to be even harder to convince it’s actually true, and a note from you would go a long way.”

“Of course,” Dr. Anderson smiled, “But before you leave we have just a few things to go over…”

Dr. Anderson slipped into her office and let out a long breath.

“How did it go, Lizzie?” Dr. Margaret Cooper, her officemate, asked. “Was she a jumping for joy one? Because I don’t think she’d be an attack you for the news kind of woman.”

“Not Jumping for joy, but a repeat it three times until it sinks in. But she left with a smile and half-formed ideas of how she was going to surprise her husband, so I think it will all work out.” Lizzie sank down in her chair, and rubbed at the back of her neck.

“That’s good. She’s a sweet woman. She deserves to be happy.” Margaret watched Lizzie carefully, an eyebrow raised, “Have you decided how you’re going to tell your boy yet?”

Almost subconsciously, Lizzie’s hand went to her still flat stomach, before returning to the paper work on her desk. “I really wish you wouldn’t call him ‘my boy.’ It makes me feel like I’m dating a child.”

Margaret laughed. “Okay, that’s fair.  Have you decided how you are going to tell your partner yet?”

She tried not to betray her nervousness as she smiled. “Not yet, Margaret. I want to make sure it’s a good plan.  It’s my first kid you know.”

Margaret rolled her eyes. “Very well, but if you don’t tell him soon, he’ll be able to see it with his own two eyes. I feel like you might start showing any day now, you’re leaving it so late.”

“It hasn’t been that long,” she protested weakly. But Margaret was right. Lizzie had known too long not to tell her boyfriend that she was pregnant. But every time she tried, she just couldn’t bring herself to do it.  After all, it was the kind of news that always brought very different reactions.

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2017 in Legal Theft Project, Stories

 

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Fiction: Legal Theft Project–Grandma’s Loom (503 words)

The first slide of her hand was effortless, easy, done before she had thought through just how to begin. It was a reflex after her grandmother sat Angela down on the little stool in front of the giant wooden machine, the muscle memory of many days coming home after school and being put right to work. And once that first slide was made, she couldn’t just stop. She followed through the remaining motions until it was back to a state of rest, and she could step away without damaging all the other work her grandmother had done earlier. Then she jumped up off the stool like it had burned her.

“See, a natural,” her grandmother crowed, wrapping an arm around Angela and preventing her escape, talking to no one. “She hasn’t touched the loom in years.  She swears she’ll make more of her life than fabrics. But—she gets right to it, like a duck to water.”

Angela groaned, shrugging the arm off her shoulder, and taking two hurried steps away from the loom and her grandmother. “This isn’t what I want, Nini,” she whined, “I don’t want to be a natural.”

“It’s in our blood, Ang. It’s in your blood. It’s the way the world works.” Nini beckoned with her hand, trying to ease Angela back to the loom. “I don’t understand you, Angela. Most people would kill to have something come to them so naturally, be talented in something practical that will also be able to set them up financially for the rest of their life’s. People who only dream they could sit down and make what you just started to make.”

“I don’t want to die hunched in front of a loom!” The words were out of Angela’s mouth before she could stop them. That didn’t prevent her from clasping both hands over her mouth after they were out, though.

Nini stiffened—her face now expressionless. She was no longer reaching out for Angela, her arms now straight at her sides. “We weren’t talking about your mother, now were we?” Nini answered in a quiet, emotionless voice.

“Nini, I am so sorry,” Angela took a step forward as if to embrace her grandmother, but was stopped short by one dark glare.

“You don’t want to be here,” Nini cut quietly, “Then get out.”  Angela felt rooted to the spot, unsure of what the best course of action would be. The silence dragged on for a while before Nini broke it with a scream. “Get out!” Angela gave a little jump at her grandmother’s outburst, but Nini wasn’t done. “Leave! You can’t be bothered with your true talent, then I can’t be bothered with you. Go!”

Angela all but fled from the room. When she’d put some distance between her and the loom, she stopped to rest against the wall and try to catch her breath and process what had just happened.  She’d gotten what she wanted, freedom from her Nini’s loom…but it felt like a loss all the same.

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2017 in Legal Theft Project, Stories

 

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Fiction: Changes Coming (218 words)

It was coming. I wasn’t 100% sure what ‘it’ as going to be—there were half a dozen avenues that had been explored and it could easily come down any one of them.  But it was going to change the way the world worked and it was going to be big enough that people were going to be big enough that people were going to have to take sides. That kind of big.

I wasn’t afraid of it though. I knew in my heart what was right—and no matter what it decided to be, I knew which side I was going to come down on. It wasn’t even going to be a question.

No, I was afraid of everyone else. People I respected, even loved. We were all going to be tested, our true colors would show, based on if we sided with A or B. Even refusing to choose was taking a side, in its own way. How would I be able to live with some of these people again. How would I be able to look them in the eye, knowing what they believe in their souls? How could I respect them again/ Could I continue to love them the way I had?

It was most certainly coming. And it was going to change absolutely everything.

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2016 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Protection of Love (271 words)

“I loved your mother,” He said, point blank, “More than anything in the world. I loved your mother so very, very much. I would have moved the world to see her smile. I wanted to give her everything she ever wanted, which—unfortunately from my perspective—was not me.

“No—who she wanted was your father—who I did not love—who…” he trailed off for a second with a vague gesture of his hand. She didn’t need him to tell her who her father was. She’d heard the horror stories, the ones she hadn’t lived through anyway. “It’s not that your mother didn’t know what your father was like. She had to have known, but for some reason she loved him in spite of all that. I guess you have to respect her for that. She did love him—but made no excuses for him. When the unthinkable happened, when things got bad—she sent you to me. I guess she remembered my friendship—my loyalty—and knew that I would do anything that she asked, anything in my power to keep you safe.

“So, you’re safe. You’ll always be safe with me, no matter what. Because your mother asked me to keep you safe. Every time I see you I am reminded of the promise I made her. I’m reminded that she loved you more than anything, and I loved her more than anything. So you have to live, and you have to stay safe. No matter what. I can’t promise you much, but I promise you that.” He nodded with a sense of finality, and headed out of the room, the lock clicking into place behind him.

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2016 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Changings…(389 words)

Priya came into the room.  I could tell it was Priya even without opening my eyes because no one else could walk in heels in that soft and yet firm way—the even tap, tap, tap across the floor. I heard her footsteps cross the room towards where I knew Ryleigh had been sitting.

“She’s a tough cookie,” Ryleigh whispered. I wasn’t. I was feigning unconsciousness so that I didn’t have to deal with anything that they had told me.

“Is she still asleep?” Priya asked in an equally low whisper.

“Yeah.  It hit her pretty hard, and I gave her something to help with the headache.  I think between that and the stress—I can’t blame her for a little extra sleep.” Ryleigh replied.

“But she’s switching? He actually got his hands on her for long enough,” Priya pushed, her voice raising just a little in her anxiety.

There was a pause, just long enough that I almost opened my eyes to see what was happening between them.

But then Ryleigh spoke again. Her voice the flattest I’d ever heard. It almost scared me more than anything else I’d come into contact with in the last twenty-four hours.  “Yeah. He got her. She’s switching. She’s going to change.”

“Oh.” Priya responded.

This time, the silence did stretch long enough that I couldn’t just lay there in the darkness. I peeked my eyes open to see Priya and Ryleigh both turned mostly away from me, focused intently on some charts and graphs that were on the monitors surrounding Ryleigh’s work station.  I just watched them for a moment—not liking the look on either of their faces as they watched the lines bounce up and down. I didn’t know what to make of that. I was so wrapped up in what that all meant that I almost didn’t notice Priya turning around to look at me again.  I was pretty positive that I didn’t get my eyes closed fast enough—as well as squeezed them shut too tightly—to convincingly look still asleep.

But if Priya knew I was still awake, she didn’t say anything about it.  She just gave a little sigh. “Okay, Ry. If she’s going to change I suppose there is nothing for it. We just must make sure that she stays on our side. Okay?”

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2016 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Warning (164 words)

I want it known that I was a completely normal kid.  I had normal parents. I went to a normal high school. I had a normal little sister (if a touch on the annoying side). I had a normal high school job at the movie theater down the street. I had a normal level of respect and disrespect for my elders. Normal.

Even when I got to college—I was a normal freshman with normal cockiness and normal nerves. I set out to make some very normal friends.  There was no sign during the first nineteen years of my life that anything would end up like this. I was just—Normal.

So—if you’re reading this thinking that this can’t happen to you—That your life could never turn out this way because there has been nothing strange in your world thus far, you are very wrong. It happened to me and it could happen to you. Keep your guard up.

You’ve been warned.

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2016 in Stories

 

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