Willful Denial

(by anonymous26, 23 January 2005)


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Willful Denial
 
Liz was getting irritable earlier and earlier each night, it seemed to
Sandra.  She had always thought Liz's 9:30 p.m. bedtime extremely generous
for a six-year-old, but Liz actually seemed to WANT to go to bed at night,
and this confused her greatly.  Sandra remembered her own childhood as a
constant attempt to stay up late, and knew that the same was true for most
children.  However, each night Liz would practically beg her to go to bed,
whining and screaming until she got her way.  It was now 7:30 at night, and
Liz already wanted to go to bed.  Her face, lightly dotted with freckles and
ringed in curly brown hair, was contorted in a pout, and she was pulling at
her mother's pants, begging her to read a story.  

"All right, for Christ's sake," Sandra thought.  She nodded her agreement,
adding "just let me finish my cigarette," and silently thanked whatever
deities might be listening as Liz smiled and scampered off to her room,
returning the house to a state of peace and quiet.  Sandra sat down at the
kitchen table, supporting her chin in her hand as her short brown hair just
barely brushed her fingers.  She raised her cigarette to her lips, and
considered Liz's strange behavior.  Was she all right?  Should she be taken
to a doctor?  Sandra couldn't figure out why she wanted to go to bed so
early.  She didn't even seem all that tired.  Sandra took one last, greedy
drag of the cigarette she had been smoking, her lovely face contorting as she
pulled the smoke into her lungs, then crushed out the butt.   She had just
smoked the last cigarette of her pack, and without even thinking about it
took another pack from her carton before joining Liz in her room.  

Liz was already into her pajamas, and was crawling into bed when Sandra
entered the room.  "All right, sweetheart, what story would you like me to
read you tonight?" Sandra asked.  

Liz thought for a moment, her childish features squirming in concentration.
"Ummm- how `bout Little Red Riding Hood?"

"Do you want the new version, or the old, scary version?"

Liz seemed restless, and quickly answered, "The old one."

Sandra smiled.  "All right sweetie."  She walked to the bookcase and selected
the requested volume as Liz pulled the covers up to her ankles.  Sandra
returned to the bedside, tucking in her daughter and reminding her to scoot
over so that she could sit on the bed.  She shifted to make herself
comfortable, opening the book and turning through the title pages.  "Once
upon a time-" she began, "there was- wait."  She had sat with her back to her
daughter, and turned around fully to view her face.  "Do you mind if I have a
cigarette, honey?"

Liz smiled her cute smile.  "No, Mommy, it's okay."

Sandra smiled.  "Thanks, honey."  She reached to Liz's nightstand where she
had laid her cigarettes, and withdrew one from the pack.  Again turning her
back to her daughter, she placed the white cigarette between her full lips
and clicked her lighter to life, holding the flame to the tip and pulling to
start it.  The cool smoke entered her mouth, and she inhaled, a wave of peace
running through her body.  She lazily let the smoke drift out her mouth and
nose as she placed the cigarette in the ashtray on Liz's nightstand, and
turned her attention back to the book.  

"Once upon a time, a little girl was asked to bring bread and milk to her
grandmother.  And so the little girl gathered the items in a basket, and put
on the warm red cloak she had been given by her grandmother, and set off
through the wood.  As she was walking, she spied a wolf.  The wolf came up to
her and asked her where she was going.  `To Grandmother's house,' the little
girl replied."

"The wolf ran off and arrived first at the house.  The Grandmother lay sick
in bed, and he attacked her, tearing her throat and watching her die.  He
then poured her blood into a bottle and sliced her flesh onto a plate.  He
got into her nightclothes and laid in bed, waiting for the little girl to
come."

Sandra reached to the ashtray for another puff on her cigarette, and was
surprised to see that it was half-smoked already.  She had smoked much more
of it than she thought.  She took another deep puff, and returned it to the
ashtray.  

"Knock, knock, went the door.  The wolf said, `Come in, my dear.'

`Oh, Grandmother, but you do sound sick'

`Yes, my dear, I am in bed.  Please come in.'

`I've brought you some bread and milk, grandmother.'

`Oh, why thank you my darling.  Have something for yourself, dear.  There is
meat and wine in the pantry.'  After her long journey, the little girl was
very hungry."

Sandra reached for her cigarette again, but found that she had apparently put
it out already.  Absently, she lit another one, feeling the nicotine rush
through her body.  She exhaled a long stream of smoke, then took another
quick drag, and set the fresh cigarette in the ashtray.  She continued
reading.  

"The little girl ate what was offered.  Then the wolf said, `undress, and get
into bed with me.' 

`Where shall I put my skirt?' asked the little girl.

`Throw it into the fire; you won't need it anymore.'

For each Garment, petticoat, bodice, and stockings, the girl asked the same
question, and the wolf replied, `Throw it on the fire; you won't need it
anymore.' "

"When the girl got into bed she said, `Grandmother!  How hairy you are.'

Sandra stopped to reach for her cigarette; there seemed to be an awful lot
of smoke floating through the room, but she didn't think about it.  She
picked up the cigarette and double-pumped, exalting in the quick rush of
nicotine, then, without looking, reached to set it beside her.  It was no
longer in her hand; she decided she must have set it in the ashtray.

 `It keeps me warmer, my dear'

`Oh grandmother, what long nails you have.'

`They are for scratching myself, my dear.'

`Oh Grandmother, what big teeth you have.'

`They are for eating you, my dear.' "

Sandra thought she saw movement beside her, but decided it was her
imagination.  She went to take another drag on her cigarette, but she had
apparently already crushed it out in Liz's ashtray.

"And then the wolf ate her."

Sandra closed the book, and.  "Alright, Liz.  Are you sure you're ready for
bed?"

Liz smiled mischievously at her mother.  "Yeah, but I might not go to sleep
right away, okay Mommy?"

"Alright, sweetie."

"Thanks for reading me a story, Mommy.  I feel lots better."

"You're welcome, honey."  Sandra kissed her daughter on the forehead,
noticing the strong smell of smoke in Liz's hair, but thought nothing of it
and walked towards the door.  "Goodnight, honey," she whispered, as she
closed the door behind her.  

Downstairs, Sandra got another pack of cigarettes out of her carton.  Now
where had her lighter gone?  Shrugging, she got a new one out of the drawer.
She lit one, inhaling the tar-rich smoke, trying to figure out where her last
pack of cigarettes had gone.  It seemed like she had just opened one-  Ah,
well, apparently not.  She exhaled smoothly, then sat down to relax.  She
certainly was going through a lot of cigarettes lately.


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