Thursday, July 15, 2010

Friday Fiction for July 16, 2010

Friday Fiction is hosted this week by Joanne. Stay cool and comfortable at your computer, and head over to An Open Book for this week’s great reading.

When I started thinking about the plot for Precocious by Consent, one of the themes that occurred to me was Katya’s discovering what she had missed in her childhood. Those of us who were blessed with good parents and wonderful childhoods can easily take so much for granted, so I started wondering just what trivial things might seem so much more important to someone who had never had them.

For a reminder, Katya was born with a forced genetic condition called Paedomorphosis. Although she is an adult, she retains the physical size and general appearance of an adolescent girl. She has been recruited to help lure a serial killer into the open, and her undercover work involves having been placed with the Adamsons as a foreign orphan. Because the killer is very adept at ferreting out law enforcement posing as children on the internet, not even the Adamsons are aware she isn’t really a child.

Chapter 17

Tuesday evening

Katya followed the Adamsons through the large department store. Mom had decided a young woman needed a more diverse wardrobe than what little she had brought with her from Romania, or the couple of outfits they had already bought for her. Several pairs of jeans rested in the cart, a couple of dresses, a variety of blouses and shirts, socks, three pairs of shoes, two packages of panties, and three training bras.

Not that I will ever need to wear a bra. The only way my breasts will ever get any larger than they are now, is if I have them surgically enhanced.

“Let’s see,” Mom said. “You need a backpack for school, too, don’t you?” Without waiting for an answer, she steered the cart towards the luggage aisle.

Their path took them by the toy section, and Katya glanced down one aisle to see two younger girls excitedly browsing the Fancie dolls and accessories. I could have collected those silly dolls any time since the Agency was taken down, so why am I worried about it now? She hurried to catch back up with the Adamsons, even as they turned down the aisle with the backpacks.

“Which one do you like, sweetheart?” Mom asked. “It needs to be sturdy, of course, but that’s no reason you can’t also have one that suits your tastes.”

She looked up and down the assortment of backpacks, thinking she should choose one that would seem appealing to a middle-school aged girl. Instead, her eyes fell on one in a pale blue color, very close to Gary’s favorite color. She slid it from the display hook, and gave it a better examination. She held it up to the Adamsons. “I like this one.”

“That one seems awfully plain and utilitarian,” Dad said. “Are you sure you wouldn’t rather have one that has a bit more flair to it?”

“I like this one,” she repeated. “It reminds me of home.”

He gave her an understanding smile. “I guess I can’t really argue with that, can I?” He took the backpack from her and dropped it in the cart.

Mom stroked her hair. “Are you feeling a bit homesick, Cathy?”

She nodded. In ways you probably wouldn’t expect. The bed seems awfully empty without Gary in it, and I miss being where I can just be Katya, instead of playing the role of Cathy.

“Honey, why don’t you go look at electronics or something, while we do a little girl-specific shopping?” Mom said to Dad.

“Afraid you’re going to embarrass me? I am a doctor, you know,” he replied.

She gave him a gentle push. “Yes, you’re a doctor, but Cathy isn’t, and there are some things that a young girl would rather not talk about in front of a man.”

Katya fought to keep from laughing out loud. If you only knew…

His huff was anything but serious. “Well, fine. I can be trusted with the intimate medical issues of more patients in my lifetime than I can hope to count, all over the world, but I can’t handle shopping with my daughter.”

“It’s all right,” Katya said, tugging gently on Mom’s sleeve. “I don’t mind. He will see what products we buy anyway, and I’m not embarrassed to discuss them in front of Dad.”

Mom gave her a regretful smile. “I would have been mortified to talk about such things in front of my father at your age, but I guess I need to learn that you’ve come from a different generation and even culture than I did. Are you sure you don’t mind?”

“I’m sure.” This is one area where complete honesty is necessary. “I should have my period in another week. It is certainly nothing I need be ashamed of, is it?”

“You’re that regular? When did you experience menarche?”

“I do not understand. What is ‘menarche’?”

“When did you start having periods?”

Okay, complete honesty isn’t going to work here, after all – I can’t tell her that was longer ago than the age I’m supposed to be. “A couple of years ago.”

“You started young. I suppose, then, that we don’t need to have a discussion about what you can expect when it happens.”

“Mama told me all I needed to know, and prepared me for it.” I wonder if Mama knew the whole of what was in store for me? Did they tell her or any of the other mothers what they had planned for all of us girls?

Dad took the pragmatic approach. “I guess we should just let you go pick out what you need and be done with it, instead of standing around in the luggage aisle talking about it.”

They headed back towards the Health and Beauty department, which took them by the toy department once again. The same two girls still stood at the Fancie display, as if the decision of what items to buy were of monumental importance. Katya hesitated, turning a longing look towards the assorted dolls. This is silly – they’re just foolish toys. Even the age I’m pretending to be, I would have outgrown Fancie dolls.

“Cathy, sweetheart?” Mom said. “Is something wrong?”

“I never had a Fancie doll,” she said, quietly. Why did I tell her that? I could have had one any time in the last few years.

“Did you have any dolls, sweetheart?”

“I was allowed a baby doll,” she said, suddenly feeling a mixture of anger and sorrow. “Just one. I never had any other dolls.” Toys were for children that were allowed to have a real childhood, not for girls being raised to just act like children for men who enjoyed their illusion of ripping away a child’s innocence.

“Aren’t you a bit old for a Fancie doll?” Dad asked.

Mom sent him a soft shush. “When I was your age, Cathy, I would close my bedroom door, and get my Fancie dolls out to play with when no one could see me. I wish I still had those old dolls – they might be worth something now, as much as Fancie has changed over the years.” She turned the cart down the aisle. “Every girl should have at least one Fancie doll in her life, and every mother should have the joy of helping her daughter pick out her first one.”


Bear said...

Your ability to set scenes so well, and realistic dialogue makes it easy to jump into the middle of your story and still enjoy it. :-)

Joanne Sher said...

Absolutely intriguing idea, as are all of yours. I love how you pull me into your worlds. Excellent.

Laury said...

Good story. I jumped right into it without having read any other parts:) You get out of your comfort zone a bit? LOL

Sara Harricharan said...

Oooh, goody! I really do like Katya. I'm glad to see the change in her character here as she's undercover. This is good! I love the inner dialogue with herself as the alternates between herself and playing Cathy. ROFL-nice touch to hand the "girl stuff" too. I'm glad she'll get a Francie doll.

Catrina Bradley said...

I love how you wrote about Katya's longing for a Fancie doll, even at her age :). Such a deep character.