Reverse Image (part 3)

Reverse Image
part 3
by Thadd Presley

What Delilah saw at that moment frightened her. The top half of her mother’s face changed. First, her pupils dilated, but not together. Each one on its own grew to the maximum size and then shrunk back down again. Her nose flared much like a horse’s would in the spring. Delilah stood and stepped away from the table. Her mother had become someone else.

She didn’t know why this was happening, but she thought it might be a stroke. Her mother was still young. Thirty-eight was young for anyone to die.

Clare saw a color of red that she never knew existed. It filled her vision and then doubled over on itself. She saw the walls of her world deepen and drown in the color. It was the color of murder, of hatred and sex and violence. God didn’t create this color to be seen and talked about. I was the last color anyone was ever to see. She knew deep in her heart that she was dying and it was a good thing.

“Mom. God.” Delilah screamed and ran to the breakfast counter where her cell phone laid. “911,” she screamed. “911.”
A woman had answered the emergency line before Clare knew what to say. “What’s your emergency?”

“My mom. My..she’s having a heart attack.”

“OK. Calm down. What’s your address.”

Delilah took a deep breath and answered all the questions.

Finally, there were sirens in the air.

The siren grew louder and closer. Too close for them to be for anyone but herself.

Clare opened her eyes. Red still covered everything and she still certain she would die. No one saw that and lived, she kept telling herself. No one could see that and live.

“Mom. Mom.”

The voice of her daughter was there in the red somewhere and that was somehow the worst part of it all. Why did she have to be involved?

The sirens stopped and doors slammed. The red was growing. It was outside now. Even the sky would be covered in red.
“Ma’am? Can you hear me?”

No, Clare thought. If I hear you then the red will get you.

“Look at her eyes, Cap. What do you think happened?”

“Looks to be a serious case of subconjunctival hemorrhage.”

Delilah screamed. The next thing she saw was the kitchen floor.

“She’s coming around, Cap. You alright sweetheart?”

“My mom. She had a hemorrhage. Her brain.”

The paramedic sat down beside her and smiled. “Let’s sit up.” He helped her. “There now. Your mom is fine. It was scary for her and for you, but that’s all. Nothing serious.”

“What happened?”

“Well, we don’t know why but she became extremely stressed and it busted a blood vessel in her eye. Both of them actually. She’s going to the hospital.”

“She’s OK?”

“Yes. Very OK.”

“I want to go with her.”

“That’s fine. You want to go ahead and stand up?”

Together, they managed to walk to the ambulance.

A moment of panic shot through Delilah’s chest when she saw her mother’s eyes. They were both filled with blood. Her mother looked like a zombie. Quickly, she snapped a picture and smiled.

“I got your good side that time.”

“You’re not funny. I don’t know how you can laugh at me. After what you’ve done. Being pregnant is hard enough on a family, but…”

“Pregnant? Mom!” For a moment, Delilah didn’t think she heard her right. “Mom, I’m not pregnant. Who told you that?”
“Don’t lie to me. You already…”

“I’m not pregnant. You must have hit your head or something when you fell.” She looked at the paramedic who wishing he was invisible. “I’m not, I swear.”

Clare was visibly upset.

“We can settle this once we get to the hospital,” he told them. “There is a planned parenthood clinic there that offers free pregnancy tests. You can go from there. How’s that?”

“O.K.” Delilah quickly assented.

Clare didn’t say anything but nodded her head.

“Let’s get this rig on the road, Cap!”

Slowly, the ambulance made it’s way onto the street and ten minutes later they pulled in at Methodist Medical Center.
An hour later, mother and daughter sat together in the E.R. A negative pregnancy test sat in a paper cup, wrapped in a paper towel.

“But, I don’t understand why you thought I was pregnant in the first place?”

“You said you found out something this morning and I thought you meant…”

“Mom, jeez. I learned something from Youtube that’s all. Really, I should have realized it a long time ago.” She smiled. Her mother’s blood red eyes looked back at her. “Oh, I’m sorry. I love you, mom. Thank you for worrying about me.”

“Well, child, that my job. It’s not this hard most of the time. What can I say? You’re a good kid.”

Ryan was escorted into the room by a nurse who was telling him that everything was going to be fine. “Clare is in no danger,” she said. “She just had a scare and fainted.”

“Yeah, I know. It’s been one heck of a morning for all of us.”

Reverse Image (part 2)

Reverse Image

part 2

by Thadd Presley

 

When Lucas entered the room, the quiet atmosphere stopped him in his tracks before he could say anything. There was a furrow on his dad’s brow he’d not seen before and his mother’s face spelled out volumes of unspoken emotion. He hoped they weren’t talking about his spring semester grades. He brought them up at the end.

Dad spoke up first. “Would you mind explaining exactly what you’re talking about? Your mother and I don’t have all morning to play guessing games. This afternoon we can hash out all the details and decide what we will do.”

“Ryan Butress.” Mother sounded extra-weird to Lucas and for the first time that morning he and his sister looked each other in the eyes. “I’ll not hear more of that. I have all the time she needs and so do you. She will tell us what she wants, when she wants. And we will not decide what she does, she decides what she does. Understand?” When her husband didn’t answer right away, Clare started crying.

Delilah stood in the gaze of three stone serious faces and she didn’t know what to say. Lucas broke the silence before it became hysteria.

“What is going on?”

“I don’t know. I think it’s because I’m not wearing makeup.”

Dad looked up from his bowl of cereal. “Sweetie, I’m not mad and neither is your mother. We just want you to be alright.”

“Well, I’m fine,” Delilah answered. “I just want to think about how I’m going to tell you what I found out. It’s been staring me in the face for so long and for me to just realize it. I mean, it’s stupid that I didn’t see it before. Why didn’t one of you tell me? Did you not know?”

“How could we know?” Her mother asked. “I don’t sleep in your bed, I don’t go out with you when you stay over at Angela’s house.”

“Is that what happened?” Her dad asked.

“That’s not important.” Her mother answered. “What’s important is what happens now.”

“O.K. Fine.” He stood from the table. His left hand shook and that was a bad sign. It meant he was really pissed. Delilah didn’t understand why her mom was so angry. “I’m going to work before I get in over my head and say something I’ll regret. I love you all and I’ll be home by four if anyone wants to fill me in then.”

As soon as the Mercedes backed out of the driveway, Lucas took this chance to jump ship. “I’m going to the gym and then job hunting. Bye.”

His mother crossed the kitchen and hugged him. Then, she turned and took an apple from the basket. “Eat this on your way. You’ll need energy to workout.”

“Thanks, mom.”

After the kitchen cleared of the menfolk, the women of the house stood quietly. They stood at the sink and watched Lucas jog down the sidewalk until he was out of view, then they looked at each other.

“Why are you looking at me that way, mom? God, why is everyone is so weird this morning.”

“I’m just worried about you. We are worried. Your dad and I.”

“Mom. It’s not a big deal. Here, listen. I’ll try to explain.”

“No. I want you to listen. That’s all I want you to do right now.” She pointed to the kitchen table. “Sit down so we can talk.”

“Mom!!”

“Don’t you yell at me.” She said it quietly, but it was a command that Delilah knew to obey. She sat and waited for her mother to speak. “Now I only have one question and I want the truth. Who’s the father?”

“What?”

“Just answer the question. Who’s the…”

“I don’t know. Dad, I guess. Who else?”

The words her daughter spoke didn’t make sense to her. They had meant something, but they quickly turned into something else before they reached her ears. Something like red worms burrowing through the dirt. Worms that ate the all the bad words once they left the mouth and spoiled in the open air.

Reverse Image

Delilah looked at her face reflecting in the bathroom mirror. She had just learned on Youtube that the image she saw reflecting back at her was not the same as it appeared to people on the street. The reflection was a mirror image. Exactly opposite of what everyone else saw.

She wished she could see what other saw, how she looked from the vantage point of others. How had she gone so long applying make-up backward to her face, primping and teasing her hair backward, smiling approvingly at a look that was completely opposite of what she had always thought it was?

There’s no wonder why she never turned any heads throughout middle school and during freshman year. But, now things were going to be different. Delilah was certain to see what everyone else was seeing.

“Dee, hurry.”

It was her older brother, Lucas, standing outside the bathroom door, probably doing the pee dance.

“Dee, please.”

“Go downstairs. Use dad’s.”

“He’s asleep. He’ll go ballistic if …”

The bathroom door flew open. “Fine. Whatever. Just stop talking to me.”

Lucas stared in disbelief. “What have you been doing all this time? I’ve been waiting patiently, gritting my teeth, because I know …”

“You don’t know anything, Luke. Just like always.”

He pushed past her and closed the door, not sure what he said wrong; without time to think, he could figure it out later if she was in a better mood.

Downstairs, Delilah’s mother, who everyone in the world called Clare, greeted her daughter with all smiles. “You’re gorgeous, do you know that?”

“Mom.” She glanced at Ryan, her dad. “Morning, dad.”

“You’re mom’s right, you know?”

“Yeah. Yeah. I’m not wearing makeup.”

“And I think that’s a good thing because makeup should be saved for special occasions.” Clare continued while buttering toast. “It shouldn’t be for everyday use. It’s really not good for your face over years and years of use.”

“Yep. Clogs your pores.”

“Well, that’s not why I’m not wearing it. It’s more complicated than that. I just found out something huge. It changes everything. Last night actually.”

“Like what?” Mom questioned.

“I don‘t know. Well, I don‘t know. I’m not really sure how to tell you. It’s hard to explain.”

“Whatever it is we we’ll understand.”

“Well, I should have realized it before because we were talking about it before school was out. At least last month ago or two at the most. I should have known.”

This brought the attention of both parents.

Continue on Part 2