All Good Things

                The rain-dashed pebbles glowed like polished glass between her feet. Feet in shoes that seeped water, water that ran from her. She’d waited so long she was part of it; part of the rain and of the sodden, musty bench. Waiting, while the dusk crept in darkening trickles of shadow, waiting while the rain came gently pattering; it was now dawn, and still she did not move.

                A dark speck in the distance grew larger, developed form as it drew nearer, becoming recognizably a human figure. Her eyes turned to it and remained fixed to it as it approached; only her head and eyes moved, nothing else. Even the pale, cold hands she held in her lap were utterly still.

                The man, who wore a dark raincoat and a hat that shadowed the upper part of his face, seemed hesitant. As he closed the gap between them he slowed, looked around him, eyes darting over the shadows under the trees. His gaze always returned sheepishly to the woman on the bench, and he walked towards her finally as if dragged there only by the magnetism of her stare.

                “Mother,” he said after a moment. He sat as far from her as possible, on the other end of the bench, glumly examining his shoes so he didn’t have to meet her gaze.

                “Gabe,” she inclined her head, frowning at his back. He turned to look at her, glimpsed her rigid severity, his dark eyes answering with a flash of alarm before he quickly looked away. “So you came,” she continued acidly. “Eventually.”

                “I was busy,” he said, and scuffed petulantly at the ground with the toe of his shoe.


                “Yes busy. Mother, I can’t just drop everything every time. I have commitments.”

                “Oh yes, I know about your commitments!” She shuddered, closed her eyes for a moment. “Debts, more debts for this family, more time bought cheap. You have been careless Gabe, at the very least.”

                Her son snorted, straightened his back and dredged up a small amount of courage from the bottoms of his pockets. It may have been dusty and clogged with lint, but it was there in his stillness and squared shoulders.

                “You forget who it was put me in that position in the first place,” he said pointedly. “Who was it forced me to the table? I do believe it was you, mother dear.”

                “Yes Gabe, I had not forgotten. Thank you for reminding me.” Sarcasm dripped like syrup from her lips, rainwater dripped from every other visible part of her. Her son snorted again.

                “Haven’t you made me feel guilty enough now?” he asked, irritation twitching in his fingertips.

                “Not nearly.” A smile, a gesture, and she was as dry as old bones and holding an umbrella like a crow’s wing above her head. “The contract. I do hope you brought it?”

                It was passed to her in a sullen crinkle of thick paper, and she read, accompanied by the pitter-pattering of the soft, greasy rain. She was silent afterwards, and stared into the trees while he fidgeted uneasily.


                “Difficult,” she said. “But not entirely irredeemable – no, not by a long way. They are not as clever as they imagine.”

                “What, mother?”

                “I should have had a brighter boy.” She shook her head.


                “All good things Gabe, haven’t I told you that before?”

                “And I’d be waiting until the end of time if you had your way, no doubt,” he snapped in a fit of frustration.

                “Gabe,” she said laughing, and her son’s hands itched to be around her long, pale throat. She knew it too, judging by the malicious glint in her dishwater-grey eyes. She enjoyed playing with her children. He wisely said nothing, defeated. He attempted, and failed miserably, to feign absolute indifference while his mother’s thin mouth twitched at each end.

                “It’s an error,” she said eventually, not out of pity, merely tiring of the game. “There is a very small error in one of the clauses. They missed it and so did you. So much riding on such a small mistake.”

                Gabe only nodded, afraid to speak. He was sure that if he so much as uttered a single word at this point he would hear no more. Her narrow, white finger was tapping at the contract, underlining the mistake with the crease of a sharp nail.

                “It may work for us. I’m almost tempted to congratulate you,” she continued. “Five centuries we have labored under this agreement. Five centuries too long. You must have inherited your great-grandfather’s profligacy Gabe; it was he who began this travesty.”

                “I know the history mother,” Gabe said, remembered he wasn’t going to speak and subsided, chewing his lip. But she didn’t appear to have heard him, or perhaps chose to ignore him.

                “And now you have borrowed more; a new contract, the old now void.”

                “You mean we can collect!” Gabe erupted in shock, completely forgetting to be silent.

                “All in good time,” she said, and stroked the contract in satisfaction, as if it was a purring cat she held in her lap. “All in good time. It has waited five-hundred years, what do a few days matter, a few weeks? Let them congratulate themselves. The contract was due for renewal, they held out their carrot and you fell into their trap. Lured by greed Gabe, how crude! But it no longer matters. I will visit them myself, and we may finally see an end to this. The Cullhernes will feel their mortality.” She drew him to her with the hook of her beckoning finger, whispered in his ear. His eyes widened, and he hurried away, not looking back.

The End

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