Loyal (Fantastic Fiction)

In a large, grassy yard with lots of kids of different ages an old woman directs us in a game of limbo. This is some sort of family reunion/ neighborhood get together and I think this woman is my great aunt. Everyone here is from my father’s side of the family or friends of the family. Many I have never met. Inside, my older sister scrolls through online dating profiles on the computer. We want to set my dad up with someone new. The house is a luxury condo with two stories and clean white tile floors. When a small girl with a red popsicle in her hand opens the glass sliding door to join the outdoor games I hear my sister tell my dad he should ask our family friend out on a date. He says something about how he’s not looking for anything like that; he’s happy how things are. For some reason I remember when he and my mother used to argue about directions whenever we were driving somewhere new.

A neighborhood girl who had just won at limbo sees me standing alone, staring at the opening in the sliding glass door. She runs up to me and drags me inside to the kitchen.

“I want to make vegetable stir fry.”

She whispers it in my ear seductively. I have never made vegetable stir fry before. From across the hall at the computer my sister gives me a warning glance. I imagine at this moment she sees me as that “typical guy” which, as a nice guy, I resent. I think about my girlfriend who isn’t here. I’ve had nightmares in which I cheat on her. In the nightmare I never know that what I’m doing is wrong until it’s too late.

The girl says she graduated college at 14, she is now 18. I am intrigued. She is not bragging, she says it as if it’s something that has left her feeling like an outcast. I hadn’t found her attractive but I start to look over her body and wonder what she looks like underneath her clothes. She says I should come visit her family condo and picks a weekend she thinks will be good for me to come visit. She says she’d love me to meet her parents but they will be gone on those days. This coincidence seems suspicious.

The girl picks up a pan to make stir fry, but instead she puts it to my lips. The pan is hot and my lips swell up. After a moment of shock I scream. The girl puts the pan down and calls 911. To my annoyance, my sister comes over and takes selfies with me while doing the “duck face.” I worry that my girlfriend will see the pictures and know what this girl managed to do to my lips. I wonder when the ambulance will come for me, then my sister comments on how the girl had only pretended to call 911. I feel like I should have known that, and the relief I feel burns at my cheeks. No one will come to try and fix this. My lips are dry and cracked but I seem to be okay.

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