I looked down at my body. This was not the body I had been wearing. He had changed my body! He had turned me back to Fran Zlodeyskiy! “How do you like that?” he asked, feeling awfully proud of himself. “I have called your bluff. I have made your lie a reality.”
“You think I care about being a woman?” I asked. “Since my accident, I’ve spent nearly half my life being a woman. This is the body I was wearing just last week. You think I was lying, Zlodey, but I wasn’t. I was your wife, but it was never by choice. You never gave me that option.”
He was infuriated by my refusal to give in. “You were NOT my wife!”
“I was. You want me to prove it. I can.”
“Prove it? How can you prove it? That is impossible!”
“I know things only a wife would know. I know which side of the bed you like to sleep on. I know how long you take in the bathroom. I know the movies you laugh at, the food you hate.”
But Zlodeyskiy was not impressed. “Anyone could know that. That proves nothing.”
He was making this difficult. I was going to have to pull out the big guns. I didn’t want to do this, but if he wanted to make me do it. I was prepared. “I know you don’t love your son.”
“What? How dare you!?” He roared. His teeth grew larger. His legs grew thicker.
But I was not going to be intimidated. I was going to make him here this. He had brought this on himself. “I know you think you love him. I know you want to love him. But you don’t. You want me to prove it to you? I can. One simple question, Zlodey. Where is he? Where is your son?”
“My son?” Zlodeyskiy skittered back, perplexed.
“Yes,” I pressed. “Your son. Remember him?”
“I sent him away. To…be protected.”
“But Lina is here. You saw her. You sent her falling to the center of the earth. You sent her away with Mayhew. But she’s here and he’s not. Why doesn’t that concern you? Why aren’t you worried about him? Why haven’t you asked anyone where he is?”
“I’ve been preoccupied.”
“Admit it. You haven’t thought about him once. I know you, Zlodey. He has been the last thing on your mind. All you’ve been thinking about is gaining power, showing people how strong you are. You’d rather kill hundreds of people than spend a minute with your son.”
“And you would rather I bring him here?” Zlodeyskiy asked. “Where he would be vulnerable, where you could attack him?”
“I’d never hurt him. I care about that boy. You made me spend all that time mothering him, there’s no way I couldn’t care about him. But even if I wanted to hurt him, if such a thing were possible, couldn’t you protect him? Aren’t you strong enough to keep him safe? You had your head chopped off, Zlodey, but look at you, you’re still walking around. You grew new legs out of your neck. Mayhew could be right here if you wanted him to. You could keep him safe. You could have always kept him safe, but at the first chance you got you sent him away.”
“There was danger!” he yelled at me. “I was shot at! It wasn’t safe! It still isn’t safe! You attacked my home! Destroyed it! It would not be safe for him here. I AM protecting my son.”
“Or,” I countered, “have you just not thought about him?”
“Of course, I have thought about him! How dare you say I have not! You don’t think I care about my son? You don’t think I can protect him?”
Then suddenly Mayhew appeared besides his father. The young boy was more than startled. “Where am…?” he began to ask. But then he turned and saw his father’s new form and began screaming.
“Do not fear, son,” Zlodeyskiy said, trying to sound calming but also strong. “It is I, your father.”
Mayhew tried to back away and ended up falling on the ground. “Get away from me! Get away from me!” he screeched.
“But I am…”
“Stop it, Zlodey,” I said.
The boy turned his head at the sound of my voice. “Mother!” He crawled to me and held onto my leg. “Help me, Mother. What is going on? What is that thing?”
“That’s not your mother!” Zlodeyskiy roared. “That is some American pretending to be your mother!” But Mayhew just held to my leg tighter.
“It’s ok, Mayhew,” I helped him to his feet. “I won’t let him hurt you.”
“What is that?” the boy asked.
“I am your father!” Zlodeyskiy’s small amount of patience was quickly running out.
“You’re not my father! My father isn’t some kind of weird monster!”
“I am your father!”
“Mother, what is that thing? Why is it claiming to be my father? What is going on here?”
“That is not your mother! I will show you what he really is!”
to be continued…