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       Charles Wallace's Favorite Toy, p.1

           Jennifer Reynolds
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Charles Wallace's Favorite Toy


  Charles Wallace’s Favorite Toy

  Jennifer Reynolds

  Charles Wallace’s Favorite Toy

  Jennifer Reynolds

  Copyright © 2014

  All Rights Reserved

  Author’s Note:

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

  Thank you for downloading this ebook. You are welcome to share it with your friends. This book may be reproduced, copied and distributed for non-commercial purposes, provided the book remains in its complete original form. If you enjoyed this book, please return to your favorite ebook retailer to discover other works by this author. Thank you for your support.

  I dedicate this short story to my fellow cat lovers.

  Also by Jennifer Reynolds

  ALONE

  Coming in July 2014

  Shifter

  Coming in January 2015

  HIM

  Table of Contents

  Charles Wallace’s Favorite Toy

  Alone

  Prologue

  Acknowledgements

  About the Author

  Charles Wallace’s Favorite Toy

  I sleep on my side. Usually, I have a row of pillows and blankets tucked underneath my body, propping me up, with one leg hiked over another pillow or mound of blankets. My husband radiates a great deal body heat, so normally I sweat too much to cover myself with too many of the blankets we keep on the bed. On that morning, I had my blanket turned sideways to cover the upper half of my body with the rest wrapped under me. The leg that was not propped over the blanket stretched out, naked, along the length of the bed. Unfortunately, by nearly eight that morning, I was slowly beginning to wake and had stretched both legs down the bed with my right foot dangling from the bed.

  Ninety percent of the time, my brain does not register the everyday noises that my house and the objects in it make. Occasionally, I will hear the ice machine drop a load of ice or hear the fish tank’s filter spit filtered water, but for the most part these noises have become part of the background music of my life. This means, of course, that morning I did not hear the steady creak of the ceiling fan as it spun. I did not hear the wobbling noises the blades made as they rotated. Yet, I did hear the crash seconds before I felt it.

  I have complained to my husband a number of times about running the damned fan during the winter, but my complaints seem to always fall on deaf ears. They would not anymore, I would wager. In order to keep the entire house comfortable, we normally keep the heat set on seventy. This does not seem very high. And it’s not, not really. The problem is that for some reason our bedroom stays hotter than any other room in the house. I am not sure if it is because our room is on the west side of the house and the sun shines through the large windows nearly all day, but the only way we can offset the heat is to run the damned fan. Sometimes during the day, while he is at work, I’ll turn the thing off, but the second he walks in the door, he comes into the bedroom to change clothes and on goes the fan.

  Some mornings when I wake up with him, I will turn it off when he leaves and go back to bed. For the most part, though, I leave it on, not wanting to bother with the thing. Yet, there are those rare mornings when I wake with a bit of a sore throat, or when I am at my desk writing a paper, and I begin to get a chill, and those are the days we fight over having it on.

  Yes, I have one of those Snuggy things, but Charles Wallace is usually spread out on top of it, sleeping the blissful, carefree sleep of the spoiled house-cat. I named my cat after the little boy from A Wrinkle in Time, one of my favorite childhood books. Charles Wallace loves my Snuggy, and I don’t have the heart to take it from him when he has it cuddled underneath him.

  I slept right through my husband’s alarm that morning. Five is simply too early to be getting up anyway, and I only do it when I’m absolutely needed. If I was a dutiful little housewife, I guess I would wake up with him. I would get up, lay out his clothes, fix him a pot of coffee, and cook breakfast. Too bad for him the best I can do that early is growl at him to turn the light back off. Most likely, that was exactly what I did on that day.

  That morning it was also too bad for me that I am not the epitome of a fifties wife because had I acted as such, I would have saved myself from a lot of pain. As it was, I did not begin to stir until around seven-thirty, a good two hours after my husband left for work.

  Another reason my brain did not register the odd noises the fan made was probably because ever since we got Charles Wallace, we have been training our ears to get used to the noises he makes. In every room of the house, a person can find or step on a stuffed mouse, a squeaky toy, or plastic ball. We have scratching posts made out of cloth that make no sound when he uses them, but we also have scratch posts that are made out of corrugated paper that make a dry scratching noise when his nails rake across them. There are also countless other things throughout the house that rattle, jingle, and crackle that we can hear him playing with at all hours of the day. For example, every once in a while, a soft ‘ting’ noise will come from the bathroom where he is steadily knocking around the tub stopper.

  I had barely raised my head off my pillow when I heard the cracking sound of the ceiling tiles as they gave way. I only half registered the crash as my bedroom ceiling hit the bottom half of the bed and floor when it dropped. Unfortunately, I did not register any of this fast enough. I missed the whine of the fan motor as it struggled to stay functioning. I missed the snapping sounds the cords made as they let loose from the free-hanging fan; therefore, I was unable to move out from under the fan in time.

  I did feel it all when it crashed down onto my legs. I felt the light bulbs shatter when they collided with the lower half of my body and cut into flesh where they could. I felt the weight of the metal motor housing case of the fan snap my right foot, the foot barely dangling off the bed, in a direction God had not intended it to go. I felt other pains, but once my foot snapped, everything sort of rushed at me all at once, and I passed out. I have an extremely low tolerance for pain.

  At seven-forty-five I came to. For a second, everything was normal. I felt no pain, no pressure, nothing. When I tried to shift onto my side, all the pain came rushing back though, as the glass bulbs, wood, and metal pushed harder into my bruised and cut calves. The movement also caused the glass of the broken bulbs to dig dipper and slice wider. As the pain of this hit me, I jerked sideways and vomited into the empty space in the bed beside me where my husband normally slept. Obviously, I have a weak stomach as well.

  He won’t thank me for that, I thought and laughed hysterically. I wiped my mouth on his pillow and laid my head back down on my side of the bed. I was sweating now as if I had come to bed after an hour’s walk on the treadmill. I lay there for a long moment. I needed to get the fan off me, but the anticipation of having to move my broken foot and the possibility of getting cut by more glass kept my frozen to the spot.

  I was trying to gather my wits about me when I felt the bed bounce slightly. I turned my upper body, slightly, doing my best not to shift anything from the waist down the tiniest of inches, to see what had caused the shift. It was Charles Wallace.

  “You’ve finally decide to grace the scene with your presence, I see,” I said to him, my words halting as I breathed through the pain. He looked at me dismissively and wandered up to the now ripe pile of vomit.

  “Oh, that’s what caught your attention. You don’t care that I’m in serious pain, you only care about the regurgitated spaghetti you think I’ve left fo
r you. Thanks. You’re a real help… Don’t lick that,” I said, swatting at him as he bent his head, sniffed the vomit, stuck out his tongue, and began to lap at one of the more liquidly places. He leapt about a foot into the air at my swing, jumped off the bed, and ran out of the room. Always overly dramatic, that one.

  I’m sure I would have thrown up again had he really eaten any of it. Wait… What am I talking about? I thought. Why am I worried about what my cat is eating? I need to be getting help. If I die here in this bed, chances are he would begin to eat me. I love cats. I really, really do, but that is one fact about them that I truly wish I had never discovered.

  Die, really. I laugh at my own melodramatics. There was no way I’m hurt bad enough to die from this, despite how much pain I think I’m in.

  As I held this mental conversation with myself, my body began to register the pain again. My foot was really starting to scream, and I knew this was due to the fact that it was hanging, unsupported off the bed. If I could pull myself up a little, give it support, the pain would ease.

  Bracing myself, I shifted forward only a few inches. More of the tiles and fan shifted, and I screamed, my foot protesting at that movement. Hot liquid
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