Mother Nature Tells Children to Go Back to their Rooms, Mommy and Daddy Were Just Talking
Bathrobed planet angles face away
After a sickening thump was heard from the kitchen last night, humanity crept down the stairs to find their mother holding her hand to her face.
'Everything's fine,' said the red-eyed biosphere, who was getting up from the kitchen floor when first seen through the stair legs. 'Go back to bed, angels.'
Looking past her, the children of Earth were able to see their stepfather half-hidden behind the refrigerator, but he wouldn't meet their eyes.
The incident took place on the heels of a long and bitter shouting match, partly muffled by the thin walls of the house and partly by the pillows the children used to try to block it out.
Although humanity had been largely trying to ignore the ever-sinking gravity of the situation, some of the older children had been noticing for a while that their mother was seriously ill, often seeming tired and intemperate. Although their stepfather refused to acknowledge it, she was clearly undergoing a frightening change.
Meals were starting to go unmade, as were beds and dishes. The water had been shut off twice in the past year, and a broken air conditioner in one of the youngest children's rooms had gone unfixed through the hottest months of summer. Once, the smoke detector had gone off in the middle of the night, and she hadn't left her room. The eldest child was forced to stand up on a chair to turn it off.
Meanwhile, some of the children had recently become aware that their stepfather had a habit of spending lavishly on nights out with his friends, and had taken the money to do so not only from his wife, who worked nights as a waitress, but from the childrens' piggy banks as well. He did this, he explained, because he had to make up what he'd lost, and not to worry, because they'd all be back on top soon.
'Daddy and I are just having a little disagreement, okay?' Nature told her children with a smile that did not reach her eyes. 'You know, like how you sometimes have disagreements with your friends?'
As one of the younger children began to cry, an elder brother fixed him with a hateful look and told him not to be such a baby. Nature admonished him for it, only to have him turn the same gaze on her, and fix it on her for a long moment. Then he turned around and walked away without another word.