Cause and Effect

Dr. Johnson signed the patent. He placed a pen down on the desk and reached for a glass of water, but a hand pulled it away.

“I said you could live. I didn’t say you could have a glass of water.”

“But you need water to live.”

“Hrm… yes… if you want to live more than a week.”

“But…”

“Now, now. Let’s not debate the point. I clearly told you that you could live, but I never specified for how long.”

Dr. Johnson’s eyes lowered.

“Oh, cheer up. It’s not the end of the world. At least, not yet.”

Hannah drummed her fingers against the dashboard.

Mary shook her head.

“Pay attention to the road.”

Hannah slammed her foot on the brakes, sending her mother reeling forward.

“That’s not funny, Hannah!”

“Dad used to love to do that.”

“Well, your dad used to love to cheat on me, too. Please tell me you don’t plan on picking up all his bad habits just because he’s dead.”

Hannah sighed and put the car in park.

“Of course not. I’m sorry, mom. It’s just been a hard week.”

“It’s been hard on me, too. Just ‘cause your dad was a jerk, doesn’t mean I don’t miss him. Although, choking to death on a prune… well, I can’t say that won’t keep me smiling for years.”

“Mom!”

Mary looked at her daughter and grinned..

“Why don’t you let me drive?”

“Mum… you just drank a whole bottle of wine at the funeral dinner.”

“Bah… half a bottle. Let’s see what this car can do.”

“Mum.”

“But your dad never let me touch his Mustang…” Mary said with a pout.

Hannah stood over a man, the Mustang headlights illuminating both their bodies.

She took her scarf, wrapped it around her hand, and picked up one of the papers that had scattered in the collision of Mustang and flesh.

A patent of some sort.

She stuck her scarfed hand in his pocket and pulled out a blood-logged wallet.

Dr. Johnson.

Fantastic… her mother had killed a doctor.

Hannah walked back around the car to the driver’s seat. She pushed her unconscious mother out of the way and hopped behind the wheel.

Hannah shuffled down the stairs into the living room. Her mother sat in front of the TV with her eye mask still on.

“Mum…”

“Oh, honey, you’ll never believe this! Some doctor was hit last night…”

“Mum…”

“Anyway, he was a real nut job. One of those guys your Uncle Sal puts away after they’ve done something real bad. His wife said he had multiple personalities and he had just patented a chemical that could have turned the world to ashes. Can you believe it?”

“Ashes?”

“Ashes!”

Hannah put her head in her hands.

“Is everything alright, honey?”

“Yeah… I think you had too much wine for the both of us last night. Speaking of which, what do you remember about last night?”

“Not a thing.”

“Oh… okay.”

Mary glanced back at the TV. A cop handcuffed a man and lowered him into a police car.

“Men,” Mary said.

“Mothers,” Hannah mumbled..

“But why turn yourself in?” Uncle Sal asked over the phone.

Hannah played with her thumb ring.

“The Mustang. There are still bits of him on it.”

“Yeah, but did you hear what this guy was going to do?”

“Uncle Sal… I caused a death.”

“Honey, the truth is a tricky thing, but when you happen to save the whole damn world with a bottle of wine and a heavy foot, you sleep on it.”

Hannah rubbed her head. This phone call was not going as planned.

“Hannah, you’ve had a long week. You probably dreamed the whole thing up. I’ll swing by first thing in the morning with a mechanic friend. Have a good night.”

Hannah hung up the phone. Her mother stood in the hall staring at her.

“Want a glass of wine.”

Hannah burst out laughing.

“I’ll take that as a yes.”


About Kristina England

Kristina England resides in Worcester, Massachusetts. Her writing is published or forthcoming at Crack the Spine, Extract(s), Gargoyle, The Hessler Street Fair Anthology, The Quotable, Yellow Mama, and other magazines. Find her on her blog.

>> Kristina England's author page

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