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Toxic #11: Genetics Are A Bitch

Mar 26, 2014

“What are you talking about?”

My grandmother got off her perch and started back with the floating around. “The flowers. The mistletoe in the trees. There’s iron in the walls, too.”

“He’s got an iron in his walls?” She’d lost me.

“Not an iron. Iron plates and nails. Even the beams under the floor.”

“Isn’t that a common building thing?”

“Not like this, it’s not.” She turned, floating in another direction, and ragged edges fluttered. She was fading out. Looking torn and see-through.

“You need to go back to the house. You’re falling apart.”

She waved her hand at me and kept floating around like a drunken butterfly. “Not until I figure this out. Your father never struck me as a very imaginative man when I was alive, but I can see things now that weren’t visible then. There’s something going on.”

“You’re reading into this too much. When you jumped out at him, he didn’t act like a guy who had a ghost in his face. I would have been off the couch ready to pee my pants, and he barely moved.”

She stopped floating. It was kind of a relief, since I was getting woozy watching her. “Why don’t you want to believe me?”

“What? That my dad is like me? He’s a medieval lit professor at Cornell. He wears tweed and thinks a fun night is reading a book in its original Middle English. What about him screams ‘supernatural-seeing freak’ to you?”

“Do you know what mistletoe is used for? The trees outside are covered in it.”

“Those big green balls? Like he plunked them up there himself.” Not that I knew what mistletoe was for, other than getting cheap kisses at Christmas. Did it have some supernatural tie-in? I pretty much only knew what I had learned from movies.

“You’re being stubborn. It’s not that far-fetched to think you inherited your gift from him.”

I flopped back down on the couch. A couple of the books crashed to the floor and I winced. “When you’re talking about my father, it is far-fetched. Sorry, but it’s true.”

She stomped her foot and fritzed out, like when you lose the cable signal for a second. She popped back in – this time lemon yellow – and scowled at me. “You need to be reasonable. I’m trying to help you.” Then she fritzed out again, and didn’t come back.

I lounged on the couch and chewed my lip. She meant well, but sometimes she took things too far. I would’ve noticed if he was like me. Wouldn’t I?

My stomach twisted. Maybe. Maybe not. Seeing him four times a year, it could have been easy for him to hide.

I sighed and got up, wandering over to the piano. My fingers trailed over the keyboard, all the hours I’d spent plunking out songs rolling through my head. My mom had left our piano in New York because I didn’t play in front of other people. She hadn’t known I wanted it. But I had. I missed it. Music was what made the sucktastic of my life okay.

I’d spent a lot of hours at our beaten upright when she was working her overnight shifts. As an ER doc, she worked more nights than days. At first, playing had been a way to make up for not having friends. After the vampire attack, it had helped me heal. My thoughts had been chaotic and fractured, and music had helped me find my focus again.

I picked out the first few notes to “Moonlight Sonata.” My lessons had stopped at age six, after only two months, so if you put sheet music in front of me it was a waste of time. Let me hear a song, though, and I could play it. The whole thing, notes and all, filtered into my head like a picture.

My dad came out of the kitchen. “Were you playing the piano?”

I shut the cover and slunk back over to the couch. “Sorry.”

He wiped his hands on his apron. “Don’t be absurd. You can play all you like. I just didn’t realize you knew how.”

“Mom got rid of ours.”

He studied me over the top of his glasses. I had his eyes. Somehow I’d never noticed. “Any time you want to play, it’s yours. I’ll give you a key so you can come over whenever you want.”

“Thanks.” A lump formed in my throat, and I looked away. “I should go. My friends.”

“Do you need a ride?”

I shook my head, focusing on the carpet. “They’re picking me up. I just need to change.” And get to the end of the driveway. For whatever reason, Scott hadn’t wanted to come up to the house to get me. But whatever. He was a werewolf. I wasn’t going to be hanging out with him enough to be annoyed by his lack of social graces.

But as I grabbed my stuff and headed into my new bedroom to change, my grandmother’s warning about flowers and iron rolled through my head. What if Scott wasn’t a social reject? What if werewolves hated the smell of pennies? Or reacted to iron and not just silver? With the town as small as it was it wasn’t impossible Scott would know my dad, or at least the house. So maybe he wouldn’t come to the door because he knew he couldn’t.

I was being paranoid. But it might be something to look into. And if true, to ponder.

If it was true, my dad had a house designed to keep out the monsters.

© A.M. Schilling  2014. All Rights Reserved.



Toxic: Installments