“Don’t eat that pear,” she said.
“But why?” He asked, giving it a look over.
“It’s forbidden.” She tried to snatch it from him but he dodged her attempt.
“Who are we, Adam and Eve? And this isn’t even an apple!” He chuckled, taking a huge bite out of it anyway.
“Well, it isn’t a pear either.”
He was too busy choking on the wax to notice her joy at having nailed the punchline.
After years of heartbreak, the adoption agency finally called. We were happy. We were complete. At least, until the sickness engulfed his tiny frame.
He offered to help. In exchange I’d have to sacrifice another human on my son’s first birthday.
I’d have taken a worse deal.
He kept his word. When the dreaded day came, I kept mine. Her eyes will haunt me forever.
I hid the body and returned home. My hands still trembled.
My wife greeted me with a bemused look, “The adoption agency called. Apparently there was a mix up with his birth certificate. They said his actual birthday is on the fourth of next month.”
She looked around at the decorations she’d worked on all day, and laughed.
“What a waste,” she said.
I nodded in agreement.
I followed the screams. I had to reach her. She continued to run down the wrong path. I tried to warn her, called out to her to stop, but my voice muffled by the thunderous rain always seemed to fall short. For the first time in my life, I was truly afraid.
And then I heard the sickening thud. She had fallen. I filled with dread when I saw a figure run towards her, with a pistol gingerly extended in front. I had to reach her before he did. Her screams were barely coherent between her frightened sobs now. “Help…daddy…please,” she repeated, over and over. She finally looked in my direction. I waved at her between strides, trying to tell her everything would be fine, but I could sense the fear in her eyes as they darted between me and him. I suddenly realised, with almost paralysing apprehension, that her life depended on who won this race. I think she did too. She closed her eyes, and waited.
Luckily for her, I came in first, and I knew what I had to do.
I plunged the knife into her ribcage with all my might, twisting it in, until all that remained was silence. I looked up to him as he finally reached her. The family resemblance was obvious – she had his eyes. I watched calmly as those eyes, now brimming with tears, aimed the pistol at my head. I wasn’t afraid anymore. The screams had finally stopped.