By Ella Kennen
Eddie’s mom’s jaw practically dropped to the floor.
“You are not going to school looking like that,” she spat out. “Now march back to your room and get dressed properly.”
Eddie scuffed the floor and turned around.
“And for goodness sakes, son,” Eddie’s father added, “can’t you at least pretend to groan when you’re upset?”
Eddie’s shoulders drooped.
“That’s the spirit,” Mr. Haskin said.
When Eddie was gone, Mrs. Haskin shook her head. “I don’t know, Howard,” she said. There was no polite way to put it: Eddie was a terrible zombie. “I can’t remember the last time he shuffled anywhere. And the way he insists on wearing clean clothes to school? It’s a disgrace!”
Mr. Haskin nodded, his head dangling precariously from the last remaining strip of skin. “The worst of it is his table manners.” He shuddered. “Who cooks their food, for crying out loud? It’s embarrassing.”
Mrs. Haskin leaned in, her teeth clearly visible through her tight-lipped expression. “You know, I saw him sneaking silverware up to his room the other day. Silverware! Where does he get these ideas?”
Mr. Haskin slammed a bloody fist on the table. “It’s those kids he hangs out with. It’s just not right, associating with living people. It’s..it’s… unnatural.”
Eddie came back, wearing a soiled shirt and bloody pants. “I can hear you, you know.”
“Of course you can,” his mother retorted. “The way you insist on taking care of your ears.” Eddie was the only zombie she’d ever seen who still had both lobes intact. She knew the neighbors talked about it.
Mr. Haskin decided to take another tack. “Son, if you only used your talents…”
Eddie looked down at his hands. He noted with disgust that flesh was peeling off one his knuckles. His parents would be so proud. Eddie looked back up. “Talents? What are you talking about?”
“Well, your speed, for one thing,” his father whispered.
“My speed,” Eddie spat out. “That’s just another thing you’re ashamed of.”
Mr. Haskin would have grimaced if he hadn’t been doing so already. “Well, yes, but you could use it to your advantage.”
“Yes, yes,” Mrs. Haskin agreed eagerly, her eyes growing big in her too-wide sockets. “The way those human boys let you get so close. Don’t you see? It’s the perfect trap.”
“Trap!” yelled Eddie. “But they’re my friends.”
“Son, be reasonable,” said Mr. Haskin. “They’re human. Nothing more than food.”
“No,” countered Eddie. “They’re good people.”
The Haskins gasped.
“Where did you learn that word?” Mrs. Haskins moaned.
The vein in Mr. Haskin’s neck throbbed a deep purple. “You will not use that kind of language while you are under my roof.”
“Fine,” said Eddie. “Then I’ll just leave.”
“Where will you go?”
“I don’t know,” Eddie admitted. “And I don’t care.”
He opened the front door then turned back to his parents, staring stiffly at their willful son. “I do know one thing,” he said before slamming the door behind him. “I wish I’d never been unborn.”
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Ella Kennen has lived here and there. When she's not busy dabbling, she might be working on her dissertation. Check out more of her writing at http://ellakennen.wordpress.com
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