Thursday, July 20, 2017

Brothers, at the Last (Monster/Frankenstein) Chapter 4

They're seated at dinner, enjoying each other's company, and Henry can't believe his luck.  The most beautiful woman he's ever seen is in love with him.  She keeps grabbing his hands across the table.  She calls herself Olive.  He doesn't think twice about it.  They're waiting for the food, but the food doesn't matter, does it?  Nothing else is real anymore.  This is everything, Henry's whole world.  He's forgotten the rest of it.

There's a toddler seated near them, part of a large party of people obviously enjoying themselves, even while the toddler pitches a fit.  Henry can't tell why and he doesn't care about that, either.  It's strange, he think vaguely, that he doesn't care.  He wonders that the man seated next to the toddler looks familiar, but he's so distracted, he doesn't care about that, either.  His whole world is Olive, and it surely always will be.  She's laughing at something, and he pretends he understands, but really he doesn't understand anything anymore, and doesn't care about that, either.  When love finds you, that's all that matters.

The toddler won't stop its tantrum.  Henry finally takes a closer look, and sees that it's a girl, and then he looks at the man, and he's startled to see that it's Sabin.  How is that even possible?  They've been sharing more and more of their secrets.  He's completed his genealogy, and now he knows the truth, that he's descended from a mad scientist named Victor Frankenstein, and that Sabin was created by this ancestor, and...Last week they found out that Sabin lost his tenure.  Last week they found out that everything they'd taken for granted was over.  Last week he saw Sabin angry, truly angry, for the first time, and it was terrifying.  There is no greater anger than the kind generated by intelligent minds, and Sabin is easily the smartest man Henry ever knew.

He panicked. He didn't even think twice of abandoning the man.  After all, he suddenly had something far better in his life. 

Sabin doesn't look in his direction at all.  He's finding ways of calming the toddler, and they're working.  Henry suddenly wonders if he's the only one who even noticed, who cared, and he's shocked at the irony. 

The food arrives, and Olive winks at him, because for her this is truly a special occasion, indulging herself in her favorite food, which she never eats, because life in the modern age is about denial, because there's no greater sin than being true to yourself, but rather conforming to hideous standards that look great on the surface but are...

He steals another glance at Sabin, and he feels awful.  They'd come to mean so much to each other.  He doesn't understand what happened, none of it.  He still has the books, and he feels like a coward because of it.  He should have returned them.  He really should have.  He doesn't know what to do with them, and it's been bothering him for weeks, the one niggling problem in his otherwise obscene good fortune of late, the miracle of Olive, who...

Wait.  Sabin just winked at him, too.  Of course he would know Henry was there the whole time.  That's Sabin in a nutshell.  Too smart for this world. 

It makes him think...Olive?  He remembers, like an idiot, the Row identity.  Olive...Olive is Olivia Row, the latest in a long line.  Sworn enemies of Sabin, employed from a long time ago to hound him to the grave.  Again.  By his creator, Victor Frankenstein.

Of course Sabin knew right away who she was, too.  Henry feels her pulling at his hands again, and he fights the instinct to recoil.  He instead excuses himself, making some brief comment about everything he's been drinking this evening.  He nearly stumbles getting up, and again fights himself as he desperately wants to run out of there.  He heads to the restroom.  He's not surprised when Sabin enters moments later.  He's standing in front of the sink, staring blankly into the mirror, and Sabin is there behind his left shoulder. 

"We need to talk," the monster says.

"Certainly," Henry replies.

"She and her kind have stalked me all my life," the monster says.   "Time for it to end.  Nothing personal."

"Listen, I feel terrible...," Henry stammers.  "About everything."

"The one thing I want you to understand," the monster says, "is that none of this matters.  But you already knew that."

"You're in danger," Henry says.

"Story of my life," the monster says.  "You never asked who I was before all this."

"His brother," Henry says.  It's not something he'd discovered in his research. 

"His brother," the monster says.  "Somehow I think that makes all of this better.  I was Victor's brother.  I can't account for his thought process.  He brought me back from the dead.  I still managed to disappoint him.  You always fear family most of all."

"Listen...," Henry says.  "That makes me your brother, too."

"Yes," the monster says, and then walks back out of the restroom.  Henry never sees him again. 

When he emerges, Olive's gone, too.  He's relieved, somehow.  The whole party Sabin had been with is still there, except for Sabin and the toddler.  Henry wonders.  Is the child Sabin's? 

He's somehow okay with the uncertainty of it.  But then, he's still got the rest of his life to figure out, too.

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