The White King Enters
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Once upon a time, there was a girl named Elizabeth Katherine McFee. Elizabeth was a woman in her thirties, with red, curly hair with a hint of bronze that spun around in tight ringlets. She had tired grey-blue eyes, framed by early worry lines that laced across her face like frost. She was thin lipped and snub nosed, with a long face that gave her an undeserved air of haughtiness. Her figure was average in size, but her fingers were too long, like writhing spiders, and her stature leaning forward, uncertain, unbalanced. She lived in a very small apartment with her son, Michael. Michael was much the same in figure as his mother—skinny and awkward, looking to be at the edge of flight. He was, at 12 years and 2 months, an odd, antisocial child, reminding all who saw him of a chicken. His neck was too long, his head balanced on top like a coconut at a coconut shy, his legs being far too skinny, with knobbly knees sticking out like a sore thumb, and his arms flailed and wobbled like gelatin from beneath his counterfeit Ninja Turtles t-shirt. His hair was not so outstanding as his mother’s was—a dull, sandy brown, which reminded Elizabeth of the boy’s father. The child’s face was puckered, and freckled; and despite his bright brown eyes, he was far more interested in the exploits of Optimus Prime than in any academic calling.
The mother and son lived together in the apartment, Elizabeth wasting away her life and talents at a thankless waitressing job that barely floated them at the poverty line. The apartment was a small, dank, one bedroom affair, on the edge of being utterly empty but for Michael’s toys. Scarce pictures scattered the walls—Michael playing with other children at his daycare, at his school, Michael playing with his mother at the Redwood Park, perhaps one or two pictures of Elizabeth and a similar looking woman of perhaps a few years older. Plastered around the photographs were Michael’s early pictures, at first stick figure drawings of his family and imaginary friends, then later still-young images of cars and robots; young boy exploits into artistry.
Elizabeth sat at the camp bed her son kept and began to read him a story; poems about crooked men filled the air, and Michael found himself floating to a different world—a world of dreams and faerie tales, and soon he was asleep. Elizabeth kept reading quite a while after, knowing it silly to still be so entranced about children’s stories, but knowing that nobody would know about her secret evening’s entertainment. She finished the story, and stroked her son’s hair for a moment, keeping comfort in his safety. Then she stood, turned out the light, and greeted the babysitter, Rebecca. Elizabeth pulled on her uniform, relaying the same tired routine of instructions to Rebecca, who knew each word by heart. She knew to keep the thermostat down, to not use the cooker, to read Michael poems should he awaken, and that she could help herself to anything in the fridge. Satisfied at last, Elizabeth hurried towards the door, tying her hair into a tight bun, and disappeared into the night.
End of Chapter One
The White King exits.