“Don’t you ever get tired of playing God?” The tips of Lizbeth’s once white sneakers drug in the dusty gravel as she sat suspended on a swing. She sniffled back the liquid that threatened to drip from her nose. Hayfever, she hated allergies. At least her eyes had not swollen up yet.
Hally shifted on her knees as she shook the box of salt near her ear. She had swiped it from her Daddy’s pantry. Twisting her face as if she had not heard Lizbeth’s query she turned towards her, the black whole in the front of her mouth shown behind the jagged ridges where new teeth were forming. Hally was seven years old and had finally begun to lose her baby teeth.
“Wha?” She asked as she pulled open the pouring lid. The snails in her wake none the wiser. “What you say, Lizbeth?” She turned her gaze back to her prey.
Lizbeth unlocked her arms that had been hugging the chains of the swing, leaned back and began to pump her legs, quickly gaining momentum and height. The wind whipped through her hair and tickled her cheeks. She smiled. “Don’t you ever get tired of playing God?” She had heard her Mother ask her Daddy that several times when he was doing something she didn’t care for. She figured she would throw the line at Hally, see if it would stay back her hands they way it made her Daddy be still when he was up to no good.
Hally slowly began to pour a line of only inches away from the snails . She intended to encircle them completely and watch as they wondered round and round into their deaths. “Lizbeth I don’t know what you are saying. When do I play with Jesus? Mom says to mind Him so I do.” She brushed the hairs from her face and looked up at Lizbeth, watching her swing like a pendulum, back and forth through the air. “I don’t play with God.”
Lizbeth shook her head but kept pumping her legs. “No, silly goose, I didn’t say “play with God” I said “play God” like you are pretending to be Him or something.” There was a silence that made Lizbeth open her eyes. Finally she let her shoes drag against the ground, kick up gravelly dust, bringing herself to a slow stop on the swing. “You are always melting them pour snails.”
Hally looked down at them. What difference did it make? She shrugged her shoulders and began to finish the arc of death she had gone to so much trouble of stealing to make. “So what. Its fun. I like they way they look when they touch the salt. You don’t think its cool?”
Lizbeth considered Hally for a moment. She hated watching snails die that way the same as she hated her nose dripping from allergies. A smile tickled the corner of her mouth. “Hally, don’t you love me? Aren’t we best friends?”
Hally nodded her head but she kept watching the snails she had trapped.
“Well I don’t know if you do anymore, cause we are like those snails and every time you melt one,” She stifled a giggle. ” Every time you melt one, or anyone melts one with salt, my nose runs. That is where all this mucus in me comes from. And then I can’t come outside and play as much.” It was a terrible lie but Hally was good for believing silliness. She still believed in the tooth fairy.
Hally’s eyes grew large and she stared at Lizbeth with pure horror. “You mean to tell me, its my fault your nose runs so much?”
Lizbeth shrugged her shoulders this time. “Not just yours. You didn’t know. Its a secret I don’t tell people. But you are my best friend so I am telling you.”
Hally considered her for a moment, watching long enough for just the smallest amount of liquid to drop from Lizbeth’s nose. She shrieked and blew the salt away, plucking the snails up and putting them out of harms way first. “I am so sorry, Lizbeth!” She ran towards her and wrapped her arms around her neck. “Did your nose stop running?”
Lizbeth nodded her head. She felt like her mother must have each time she had helped her dad make a better decision. “Yup, sure do. Thank you, Hally.” She also didn’t seem to hate Hayfever half as much as she had before.
I am not one for lying but lets all be honest here, IT HAPPENS, as does well played manipulation even amongst the youngest of people. I did not see this freewrite going in this direction, of repeating poor parental behaviors, a mother manipulates her husband into doing what she wants, be it for the good or the bad, and as a result her daughter starts down the path with this learned behavior. On the psychology of it all.