That's a few thousand words, not counting the following. This is a little vignette that formed in my mind, very clearly, as a scene from Alexandra's past. It's too long to be a drabble, too short to be a short story. It's a significant little incident (and astute readers will recognize where Alexandra flashes back to it), but not that significant. I'm not sure I'll ever find a place to stick it in the books, and if I do, it will probably be greatly shortened.
But, it stuck in my head, enough for me to write it out, and even create an accompanying image. So, here it is.
"Don' like peas!"
Alexandra sat in her high chair, thumping her fists defiantly against her tray, preparing to resist peas with all of her two-year-old might.
Claudia let out a long, exasperated breath, and ran a hand through her thick, tangled hair. No time to wash it -- she was just going to have to tie it up before running off to class. Just outside the window, the L went past with a clatter.
If she didn't get Alexandra to eat dinner, she'd never get her put to bed by the time Tanya arrived, and a fussy, awake Alexandra, home alone with a babysitter, was not a good idea.
But Claudia was also at the end of her rope. She hadn't been getting much sleep lately, and now she had to run off to sit through four hours of night class, where she couldn't afford to nod off.
So rather than going back to the refrigerator to find something more to the little girl's liking, as she usually did, Claudia set the plate of peas, squash, and diced chicken down in front of her, a little too forcefully.
"That's too bad," she said. "They're good for you."
Alexandra frowned, at her mother's tone, and at the unwelcome sight of peas on her plate.
"Don' like peas!" she repeated.
She had discovered a favorite phrase -- she was pretty sure that it communicated her feelings on this matter quite clearly, so of course, it could not possibly be repeated too many times.
Claudia turned away from the toddler. She was on the edge of losing her temper, which she had never done, and she tried to summon her last reserves of patience and forbearance.
"Eat your dinner, Alexandra," she said, in a voice strained by weariness and tension.
"Don'! Like! Peas!" Alexandra said, more loudly this time. She banged her fists on the tray, making the plate jump.
Claudia whirled around. "Don't you dare knock that on the floor!" she snapped, pointing at the girl. For Alexandra's hand was poised to do just that.
"Don' like peas!" Alexandra shouted.
"I don't care!" Claudia shouted back.
She knew that was a mistake immediately. Alexandra's face scrunched up and turned red and her fists became little balls, and it was clear that she was preparing to unleash a terrible temper tantrum -- and then her plate levitated several inches into the air, along with everything else on the table and counters.
Claudia's mouth dropped open and she turned pale. "Oh, no..."
Then everything went flying in all directions. Claudia let out a little scream and dropped to the floor, just barely avoiding the plate which went hurtling directly towards her head and splattered against the wall behind her, sending bits of chicken, peas, and squash everywhere. The salt and pepper shakers exploded against another wall, silverware skittered against the stove and refrigerator, and every glass in the kitchen shattered.
For several long seconds after that, there was silence, except for the dripping of juice, spilling off the counter from the ruined pickle bottle.
Claudia lay on the kitchen floor. She could feel herself shaking, on the verge of breaking into sobs.
I can't do this, she thought.
Then Alexandra said, in a very small voice, "Di'n't hurt momma?"
Claudia lifted her head from the floor, and rose slowly to her feet. Alexandra's eyes, wide and anxious, lit up with relief when she saw her mother's head rise above the level of the table. She held out her plump little arms.
"Di'n't hurt momma!" she said, still sounding worried.
Claudia brushed the hair away from her eyes, and shuffled over to where Alexandra was sitting. There were shards and splinters of broken glass everywhere, except in a three-foot circle around Alexandra and her high chair. Claudia lifted the two-year-old out of the chair, closing her eyes as the little girl wrapped her arms around her neck.
"No, you didn't hurt momma," Claudia sighed, holding Alexandra and gently rocking her.
She'd have to tell Tanya she was sick, and make up the missed classwork somehow.
ETA: I hate LiveJournal and its craptastic editor with the heat of a thousand burning suns.