Spring 2009, Volume 6

Fiction by Francisco Uribe

Claudius and Abigail

Fourteen years ago, before having any children, Joseph brought Eva to their new house. Eva was thrilled. She felt like a dream had come true: she had married a man she loved deeply, and she lived in a beautiful two-story house that had a midsize yard. A row of beautiful flowering trees adorned the street (in which Joseph and Eva lived), and when the wind blew, a sea of cherry colored petals whisked nimbly, elegantly dancing in the air, only to tire out; and with the regression of the wind, the petals gracefully spread on the street's cold asphalt and on the fronts of the neighborhood yards. Everything seemed idyllic and blissful for Eva and Joseph. But that bliss would be short lived.

Like many married couples, Joseph and Eva wanted children; but as time went by, having children would be a difficulty for Eva. The lack of children inside the household became a strain for Joseph and Eva's marriage. Eva, however, did eventually become pregnant. She gave birth to a baby boy, whom she named Claudius. Claudius was born a large boy, weighing at almost ten pounds. It wasn't an easy experience, for Eva, to labor with Claudius; but his upbringing would prove to be even more difficult. Soon after bringing Claudius home from the hospital, he developed a stupid look on his face, and his behavior was that of an animal. For the next few years, Joseph and Eva became spiteful towards each other. They both blamed one another for the way their son had developed. To make up for Claudius's deficiencies as a son, Joseph and Eva wanted another child, but the struggle of having a child persisted.

Still, Joseph and Eva remained together, barely attending to their son's needs. Claudius was confined to one room, his room, next to the garage, where the washer and dryer were. The placement of the washer and dryer next to Claudius's room turned out to be convenient for Eva; for whenever Claudius started to howl, she would turn on the dryer, with rocks inside, in hopes that the noise of the machine would drown out the noise of her son. The only thing that could keep Claudius from howling was chocolate bars wrapped in silver. From time to time, however, Claudius was allowed to roam out in the back yard. (Though, if one were to observe Claudius roaming the yard, with the flowers that he liked to play with, one would feel like this was Frankenstein's monster in a tranquil state, but at any moment a little girl could be tossed into a lake, at any moment Claudius could erupt in howls and attacks,.) After some time had passed, it seemed that all hope was lost of having another child for Joseph and Eva. Eva, with great persistence nonetheless, eventually was able to carry another child within herself.

After the birth of Abigail, a healthy baby girl, Joseph and Eva were filled with a new sense of love and happiness for the next few years; they were proud parents, and it showed. They showered Abigail with extreme affection and attention.

After some time's wait, a party was planned for Abigail's fourth birthday. Joseph even hired a man to set up a petting zoo in his back yard for the incident. Eva bought, for her daughter, a piñata that looked just like Abigail. As the men where bringing in the lambs for the party's petting zoo, Joseph was, loosely, tying the piñata to Abigail's jungle gym. Claudius observed his father at a distance, from a window in his room.

The party had started. Many of the neighborhood children were at Abigail's celebration, and they all were given the chance to break the piñata open. The children tried to break it with a stick, but their muscles gave out first, rather than the piñata itself. The piñata just moved back and forth, until the rope, which had been loosely tied, gave out. The piñata fell to the grown and the kids stomped on it feverishly. Finally, it broke opened, and gleams of sunlight bounced into Claudius's eyes (who had been watching the party silently from his room). Claudius saw the silver chocolate bars that littered the ground, he became impatient and began to yelp and moan. Eva was quick to react to Claudius' moaning by rushing into the garage and turning on the dryer with rocks inside: she told people that their dryer was old and in need of maintenance.

After a few hours had passed, Abigail's party was coming to an end, and all the children were gone, Eva felt that Claudius was no longer in a position to embarrass her. So she set Claudius loose in the yard in hopes that he would stop from howling.

Claudius quickly headed to where the piñata had been, he looked at the ground to search for some chocolates, but there was none. He then headed to attend to some flowers in the yard. All the while, Abigail was with a lamb; she was caressing it and running her hand through the back of the lamb's head. Abigail then headed to her jungle gym, where the piñata had been. Abigail stopped beneath a bar, gave a short jump, and clasped her hands around the bar. With her feet barely off the ground, she managed to swing back and forth. As the sun began to set, a few rays managed to pierce through the dusk and set on Abigail's silver necklace. The rays bounced back into Claudius's eyes, he turned to see the figure of a girl, swinging back and forth. He slowly got up and walked towards the shinning of the light. His right foot stepped on the stick that had been used to break open the piñata. Claudius picked it up. Abigail swung back and forth, humming.

Eva and Joseph stood at the front of the house talking to some of their adult friends, who were about to leave.

Claudius, with stick in hand, came closer to his sister, and then, with brute strength, began hitting her. Abigail immediately fell down, and Claudius continued to hit her as she lay on the ground. Abigail screamed and screamed. She yelled in such a high pitch that Claudius became frightened. Blood covered Abigail's body.

Joseph and Eva stood outside with their friends. The sounds of rocks bouncing inside a dryer prevailed over the heavens. Finally, when they both bid farewell to their acquaintances, and headed to the yard, Joseph and Eva witnessed Claudius pounding away at his baby sister. Abigail's blood flooded the area beneath her and slowly made its way towards her father; it seemed as if her blood was calling out to him. When Joseph pulled his son off Abigail, his little girl's body had the appearance of having been dragged out of a lake, her skin and face pale, with red marks. And her small eyes blankly stared up to an empty heaven.

BIO:  Francisco Uribe is a student at Long Beach City College, who is getting ready to transfer and earn a bachelor's degree. A native of Southern California, Francisco has been inspired by the diversity of cultures which can be found all around Southern California. Attending City College, Francisco has been motivated to further develop his writing; and because of his motivation to write, Francisco would like to thank the English Department at Long Beach City College, especially the teachers from whom he has had the pleasure of learning.