Let's discuss Avengers: Infinity War -- a movie BOUND to make you feel so good!

August 2, 2013

I Hraet You (79)

Beat 79: An Origin Story?  Nah, Man

Lloyd rubbed his hair.  “Er, my apologies, ma’am, but I think I’m missing something here.  You made it sound as if you were responsible for Miss O’Leary’s problems.  And as her mother, surely that isn’t the case.”

But Jane gave him a brisk nod, staring ahead as Deirdre started to drag the soap out of her mouth.  “I’m afraid that’s exactly the case, Lloyd.  If it wasn’t for me, maybe you’d be having an easier time here -- and maybe my daughter and I would be better off.”  She lowered her gaze.  “I guess I botched this whole motherhood business somewhere along the line.  I had a hunch that I’d done something wrong, but seeing something like this before my eyes…it’s the kind of thing that’ll make you regret ever deciding to ride up to Make-Out Ridge after the big dance.”

“I think this conversation is in danger of being derailed, ma’am.”  Lloyd looked up at the ring above Jane’s head -- still shining, but with each passing second its innards emptied further.  “We’d best cooperate more efficiently.  I doubt I’ll be able to do anything without you.”

“You’ve got that wrong, Lloyd.”  Jane shook her head, but smiled regardless.  “I’ll be sure to support you however I can.  But the one who’s going to win this thing -- the one who’s going to save my daughter -- is you.”

“Me?  But how am I --”


A bar of soap large enough to kill a man slammed into Lloyd’s head, and bolwed him over.  He tried to right himself, but somehow lost the drive to do so as he stared at the desktop -- or more precisely, the bunny-eared beauty that squatted atop it.   
“You’re not about to save anyone, you little brat,” Deirdre sneered.  “You’re only here, alive, because you’re going to be my pet from now on.  I’m not about to let you ruin a good thing.”  Her head jerked its way toward Jane.  “And you.  Who the hell do you think you are, trying to butt in on MY territory?  The boy is mine.  The girl is mine.  And I don’t need anyone trying to change that -- especially not you!”

Jane just laughed and shrugged.  “Bold words coming from an imaginary friend.  How does the old saying go?  Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me -- so what chance does someone that barely even exists have against me?”  She helped Lloyd to his feet and set him back in the director’s chair, patting him down while flashing him a cheery smile.  And all the while, she ignored Deirdre -- the seething, growling, trembling conjurer barely a half-foot away.

“By the by, I would stop pushing Lloyd around if I were you.  And while we’re at it, how about you give the two of us some personal space?  I don’t like it when people besides my husband breathe on me.”

Deirdre snorted.  “And what are you going to do about it, huh?  If it’s a fight you want, I’d be happy to gi-”

Jane turned toward Deirdre.  “Back.  Off.  NOW.”

Lloyd couldn’t even blink before Deirdre darted to the center of the room.  “Pfft.  It’s not like I wanted to be that close to you anyway,” she said, arms crossed and gaze averted…and body trembling, he quickly noted.

“There we go,” said Jane as she clapped her hands together.  “Now.  Where were we?”

Lloyd just kept staring ahead.  “Is this…the power of motherhood?”

“Sure is.  Now Lloyd, let’s hurry up and get this done.  Time is running out -- and I’ve got a lot to say.  So let’s not waste any more time, all right?”

“O-of course.  Speak freely; I’ll welcome whatever testimony you can offer.”

Jane nodded, and took a deep breath.  “I guess it started back when Sheila was in first grade -- when we moved here to Porbeagle.  This was my hometown, but after high school I ended up leaving and heading off on my own…and when a twist of fate brought me back, I had a daughter and a husband with me.”

“A Porbeagle native, then,” said Lloyd.  “I’d assume the town was elated to have you back.”

“The town was, sure, but Sheila wasn’t.  She had to start over from square one, trying to make new friends and settle into her new home.  It didn’t exactly work out for her.  She was a nice girl, but shy, too.  The definition of a wallflower.  So it wasn’t long before she ended up all alone -- and worse yet, had pretty much stopped trying to make friends.”

“You can’t tell me you were expecting otherwise,” said Deirdre.

“Who said you could speak?  Am I gonna have to put you in time out?”

“Hold on, ma’am,” said Lloyd as he held up a hand.  “She may be a bit of a troublemaker, but I think you should allow her to speak freely.  There may be something she says that I can use later on.”

“You think so?”

“That’s typically how these things tend to go.”

Jane shrugged.  “If you say so.  But back to my story.  Like I said, Sheila didn’t have any friends at school, and as time passed things looked like they’d only get harder for her.  So I tried cheering her up -- and before long, I ended up becoming her best, and only friend.  I know you saw us fighting a lot, but believe it or not the two of us used to get along just fine.  We were practically inseparable.  Like sisters.”

Lloyd nodded and stroked his chin.  She remembers the fight from before?  That’s strange…I would have figured that anyone besides me in the audition room would treat me as if we’d first met.  But do things work differently when I have another “judge” beside me?  His brow twitched.  That may be a thread worth pursuing when this is over.  But for now, I feel as if the details given here are vital -- more so than the madam could ever suspect. 

“Then one day -- an April fool’s day -- I decided to play a trick on her.  I took a jar of mayonnaise and dumped it into a bowl, and pretended to eat it like ice cream.  When Sheila came wandering around the corner, she wanted to eat some too, and I told her to dive in.  If you had seen the look on her face when…”  Jane stifled her laugh, and cleared her throat.  “All I did was pull a prank, but I think I ended up hurting her a lot more than I ever intended.”

“You were her only friend.  And you betrayed her trust.”

“Plus she never ate mayonnaise again.  And she used to love it.”  Jane shook her head.  “She didn’t want anything to do with me anymore.  Her father, sure.  But me?  Nothing.  And he could only do so much for her, bless his cholesterol-clogged heart; he did his best, but in the end I knew Sheila needed someone for her.  If not her mother, then a real friend.  Someone on her level, and her terms.  So one night I asked her if she’d ever thought of making up an imaginary friend.”

“And that worked out perfectly, as you can see,” said Deirdre.

“Obviously, I never got to see her imaginary friend in person -- but I could still get a taste of the effect.  For one thing, Sheila didn’t make any more friends…but the way she acted, she didn’t really need them.  For another, she actually managed to prank me back; she filled my milkshake with pickle juice and mustard.”  Her face soured.  “And that was just ONE of the pranks she pulled…that week.”

So it was thanks to her untouchable ally that Miss O’Leary gained her mischievous streak, Lloyd thought.  Simple enough to follow…but I wonder about certain aspects.  Was it the friend alone that taught her how to play tricks?  Some outside influence?  Or merely hidden talents, awakened once she gave her thoughts form? 

I was under the impression that these two beauties are one and the same.  But could it be that I misjudged?  Were they really born from the same source and circumstances?  He eyed the ring above Jane’s head -- well over half-empty.  That’s a mystery I’ll have to figure out on my own, it seems.

“Aren’t you forgetting something?” Deirdre asked.  She shot a thumb at herself.  “You’re forgetting the most important part of the story: the day when Sheila realized I was the only one that mattered -- not you.  Not her.  Me.”

“And when was that?” Jane asked, gripping her crossed arms.

But Deirdre merely laughed and shrugged.  “Oh, this is rich.  You’re her mother, and you don’t even know?  I guess you failed her in more ways than one.  Couldn’t help her find any friends…couldn’t help her when she started growing up and out…couldn’t help her believe she was anything more than a waste of space…it’s no wonder things got so bad between the two of you.  Maybe it’d be for the best if you just up and killed each other.”

“That’s insane.”

“Is it?  Well.  Maybe it is a little extreme -- but think about it.  Is the only way the two of you can communicate these days through violence and destruction?  Is there really nothing else you can offer your daughter besides a home to hide away in?”  Deirdre’s eyes shifted toward Lloyd.  “How sad is it that you have to rely on a mere boy well beyond the family tree to get anything done?  Maybe you’re the one who really needs an imaginary friend -- because clearly, having a real daughter isn’t cutting it for you.”

Jane lowered her eyes.  “Maybe you’re right.”

Lloyd glanced at the green ring -- and had to force himself to hold in a scream.  The light dumped out at double, if not triple the normal speed; what remained in the ring alternated between soothing green and searing red, with the interval between each change growing shorter and shorter.  “Madam O’Leary!  Your ring is --”

Deirdre chuckled.  “Oh ho…looks like I just hit the spot.  Just as I thought -- even mothers have their weak points.  So why don’t you just go on home and start working on dinner?  Once I have my way here, Sheila’s going to want a big, hearty meal.  One that’ll fill the both of us up, nice and fast.”

Lloyd leapt out of the chair and held out his hands.  “A-are you all right, ma’am?  Can you still fight it?  There’s still --”

But Jane shook her head and laughed bitterly, and pushed Lloyd back into his chair.  “She’s right.  I guess mothers do have their weak points.  I just can’t believe I let her hit mine so easily.”  She clapped a hand across her face.  “Guess I’ve got my own issues that need sorting out…”


Jane peeked at Lloyd from between a few fingers.  “Listen carefully, Lloyd.  You may not know the full story, but you don’t need it.  You’ve got just enough information to pull through here -- and you’re just crazy enough to make all the right connections.  So I trust my daughter to you.  Do the one thing that you can do…the one thing I could never hope to do.” 


“Didn’t I tell you?  Call me Jane, sweetheart.  Hearing ‘ma’am’ over and over makes me feel old.”  She turned her back on Lloyd and started off.  “Heh.  I was hoping I’d be able to make a cool exit, but I guess that’s just the kind of thing you see in movies.  Hard to do that sort of thing on a whim.”

“If you’re going to go, then go,” said Deirdre.  She could see the ring just as plainly as Lloyd -- and hardly a hundredth of its light remained.

But Jane ignored her, and looked over her shoulder to Lloyd. “Don’t forget the most important piece, Lloyd,” she said with a smile.  “Remember the fairies.  Remember the --”


And in a flush of light, Jane vanished.  The green quill lost its luster, turning just a few shades above gray. 

“Well, that was easy,” said Deirdre.  She thrust her hands atop her hips.  “Now then.  Where were we?  Oh, right.  I think I was just getting ready to blow your mind.  Blow your mind, make you my slave, take control, it’s all one and the same at this point.  Though there is one difference between them: I get to do one of those first.  And repeatedly.” 

Lloyd didn’t say a word.  He just kept staring at the spot where Jane vanished.

“Not even going to try and resist?  Well, I guess that makes things easier on me.”  Deidre floated slowly toward Lloyd.  “Now that mommy dearest is gone, there’s no one left to protect you.  And you know what that means, right?  I’m on top once again -- so unless you’ve got a real power besides trying to talk me to death, you’re all out of options.”

Lloyd just kept staring at that spot.  Staring.  Staring.  Staring.  Staring…and then, smiling.

“Actually, now that you mention it, I do have one ace up my sleeve.”

“Lying isn’t a good habit to have, sweet cheeks.”

“I’m well aware -- and that’s exactly why I never lie.”  Lloyd turned toward her at last.  “I’ve got all I need, Miss O’Leary.  And because of that -- because of your mother’s earnest efforts -- I can do what I set out to do.”

He thrust a finger forward.  “Now I can see your heart.”


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