Flash Fiction #111
“Who will you save, me or your mom? I mean if there’s a fire or a flood.” Armei asks her husband Arhu when they retire to the bedroom for the day. Armei’s mother-in-law Nai sleeps in the guest room. Nai just retired and Arhu invited her to come to live with them. Armei’s instincts tell her that her husband is inviting his mom to come to live with them forever. Arhu’s father died young and Nai brought Arhu up all by herself. There’s a strong attachment between the mother and the son.
“What kind of question is this? I don’t think you want me to save you and abandon my mom to the fire or the flood. You are too kind-hearted to wish this kind of thing, right?” Arhu argues.
“Just looked at your mom at the dinner table. I wanted to hit her with a broom. She didn’t eat anything herself, but she just sat there, watching you eat as if she’s your lover.” Armei says.
“She is old. She took her dinner at 4PM in the afternoon. Her doctor advised her to take early dinner for longevity’s sake. When we came back and started our dinner at seven, she of course didn’t want to eat anything.” Arhu says.
“So, what’s your answer? You haven’t answered my question yet. Who are you going to save?” Armei insisted.
“Come on. Are you crazy? Are you trying to curse this house? I mean we will be homeless if there’s a fire or a flood.” Arhu evades the answer.
“We have insurance. I am not worried about that. Well, answer the question.” Armei raises her voice.
“God, you are such a dictator. I am not talking to you anymore. I need my sleep.” Arhu says.
“Do you know there’s a man named Oedipus who killed his father and married his mother?” Armei says.
“Really? A white man? Goodness. He’s more crazy than Putin.” Arhu says.
“You are an Asian Oedipus.” Armei says.
“Oh, shut up, will you? Me marrying my mother? Are you out of your mind?” Arhu says.
The two turn off their light and go to sleep. Suddenly, Arhu gets up to go to the bathroom. When he glances out the window, he is surprised to see a wall of water coming so quickly that the first floor is flooded immediately. The water rises so rapidly that just a blink of an eye later it’s knee deep on the second floor where the bedrooms are located. He rushes out of the bathroom and shouts, “Armei, Mom, quick, let’s get out of here. It’s flooding.” The two women come to him, each grabbing one arm, and scream, “Who are you going to save? Answer me. Who are you going to save? Make your choice now.”
“Arhu, Arhu, sweetheart. Wake up. Are you having a bad dream?” Arhu hears his wife’s voice asking him. “You were grumbling something very loudly but I couldn’t understand what you were saying. Bad dream?”
Arhu wakes up and he’s lying there and there’s no flood. It’s a dream.
“I had a nightmare. It’s a flood. It comes so quickly. Look, my palms are sweaty. I am so scared.” Arhu says.
“So, you dreamed of a flood, didn’t you? And you were forced to make decisions? Right? Hmm. Well, who did you save?” Armei asks.