A Tale for the Modern Attention Span
Steel Bolt was working in his study at stately Bolt Manor one evening when a feeble knock on the door disrupted his concentration. “Come in,” he said crossly. He expected Consuela to enter and start prattling on about some domestic issue or another, so he didn’t even bother looking up. After a few moments of silence, however, he glanced in the direction of the door and was surprised to see not his housekeeper, but his sister.
“Steel, can I talk to you for a minute?” Viveka asked.
Initially he flashed a “does it look like I want to talk” look—but then he noticed her serious, scared countenance and said, “Sure, Viv. What do you want?”
“There are a couple of things actually,” she said timidly. “I’m not sure how to start, so I guess I’ll come right out and ask: Steel, what’s going on around here? What happened to Daedalus? Where’s Charity? And before you answer,” she added before he could answer, “please don’t lie to me. The most awful rumours are circulating around town. Just the other day I was at my painting class and people were whispering about how you had Daedalus killed. And last week at the art store, I overheard people saying that Charity is pregnant, and that she’s living with Chastity who’s about to give birth herself. I feel so ashamed when people talk like this, Steel. I want to set them straight, but I can’t because I have no idea what’s going on in my own house. So tell me, Steel. And please, for the love of god, swear on the graves of our parents that you won’t lie.”
Steel allowed a moment or two to pass before he said in a reassuring tone, “Alright Viv, I’ll tell you what happened. But first I want you to know that I didn’t tell you earlier because it isn’t pretty and I wasn’t sure you could take it. I suppose when I made that decision, I was thinking back to the person you used to be. I should have realized that you are now a strong woman who need not be coddled. So I’ll tell you all and I promise I will not lie.
“Daedalus has left us because I caught him making love to Charity and he felt terrible as a result. I assured him all was forgiven and that I wanted him to continue living here, but he refused to believe it. I woke up one morning and he was gone. As for Charity, she is pregnant as a result of this one-time liaison with Daedalus. She too felt so ashamed that she moved out despite my pleas to stay. She has gone to live with Chastity, who is also pregnant as a result of her previous dalliance with Daedalus. I must say, I hope with all my heart that some day soon Daedalus will come back to us so we can all be together again.… And that, my dear sister, is the truth.” Steel capped the performance with a melancholy sigh. (It should be noted that the entire time he was emitting this pollution of lies, his face never once betrayed him.)
“Oh, Steel,” Viv moaned sympathetically.
Her reaction told Steel that she’d bought it. That accomplished, he wanted the topic dropped: “Now then, what was the other matter you wanted to discuss?”