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SHORT STORY: “Worth the Having” by Michael Paul Gonzalez

Worth the Having

How does it feel?

It asks this as it cuts deep into the inner thigh, flesh and fat zippering apart, its tongue probing into the fresh wound.

How are you doing?

The thing wouldn’t want an answer even if there was one. It only wants screams.

This is going to be worth it. You’re going to love next year. This will make it worth the having.

I used to wonder what could be worth this. The heat of its palms pushing legs apart. The cold, slow rivulets of saliva dripping down like icy syrup, washed away with slowing pulses of hot blood. That single tooth in its lower jaw, barbed and curved, that awful knowing smile from the puckered sphincter of its mouth. This year, I finally understand that phrase, worth the having. This year, the final year of our horrible agreement – the thing still uses that word, agreement, as if I wanted any of this – I understand it all.

Twenty-two years ago, I was cutting across the backyard of Mikey Slater’s dad’s house. This was the night before Halloween; the night, I’d later learn, that the thing would stretch its legs and go for a walk. The thing was the reason for the season, the whole tradition of Halloween had started because of it. Masks, costumes, disguises, none of it for fun. All of it primal camouflage to help the prey hide from the predator. Nobody remembers that part of the tradition anymore. Not even the thing itself. It just knows to walk the night before Halloween. And it walks to me. I don’t ask where it goes when it leaves me, or what it does on Halloween night. I’m just glad it’s gone.

Anyway, Mikey Slater. His parents had been divorced a few years, and I still treated this, our original hangout, like a second home. The other bonus was that it was a quick end-around the neighborhood when I needed to get home fast. I was on my way home from checking out Mikey’s Halloween costume at his mom’s house, and had about two minutes to get home before dinner was cold and my ass would get spanked. We’d made a pact to dress as characters from this cartoon about interstellar knights. We had some great things rigged to our costumes, lights and fake swords, the whole works. We expected that tomorrow night, we’d barely be able to do any trick or treating since we’d be mobbed by admirers wondering how we obtained these amazing costumes.

I vaulted the six foot wooden slatted fence, landed soft in the garden, not caring if my presence was announced or not, since Mikey’s dad never cared if I cut through.

And then I saw him there, lying in the grass near the backdoor, naked. Another person was straddling him, pinning his arms down. Pale skin, soft curves, it looked like a woman. The back did, anyway. The head was too small, and bald with a Mohawk of downy feathers. This thing, this silhouette was dipping down, the head bobbing just above Mr. Slater’s crotch. I was young, but not so young that I didn’t have a small clue about what I might be seeing.

I heard a whisper, Almost done, almost done. Next year is going to be fantastic. This will all be worth it.

And Mr. Slater was replying “No, no, no. No more. There’s nothing I want. Everything I want is gone…” and occasionally hissing his breath, stifling a scream. Pleasure wasn’t part of this. “No more! No more, please!”

You must want something. It’s you and I forever. If you don’t want anything…

And here the thing yanked a hand back from Mr. Slater’s thigh, and that’s when I noticed the blood, and the flap of flayed skin that I’d initially mistaken for underwear pulled down. I tried to turn around, grabbed the fence to bail out. I wanted to get out of there, wanted to be home.

You… want?

It whipped its head around at me, and I felt its voice in my head more than I heard it.

“Take him! Take him!” Mr. Slater cried out, pointing at me.

I can’t explain any of what happened next. Can’t explain the face that I saw when I locked eyes with the thing. Can’t explain the speed with which it moved, crossing the yard in three hitching strides, seizing my ankle as I tried to get out of the yard. I flopped my upper body over the fence and struggled for anything to grab, to pull, to get free.

I heard a whisper… no, felt it.

Mine.

One quick bite on my ankle. A burning pain, searing, electric.

Make a wish before you go to bed. Think about what you want next year more than anything. We have an agreement now.

It wasn’t a question or an offer.

I was released and dropped to the ground in the alley behind the fence.

I reached to my ankle. There was a fading flash of pain and burning, but no blood. No cut. Mikey’s dad came stumbling around the corner, wearing nothing but a pair of shorts, holding a handgun.

“Is it still here? Is it?”

I said nothing. What could I say? What the hell was happening?

“My God, if you hadn’t shown up… I’d…I’m free,” he smiled at me and turned away. There was a flash in his eyes, a moment where he was teetering between life and death, that gun the fulcrum between finishing something very bad or starting something new. His hand raised slowly.

“But, don’t, Mikey…” those were the only three words in the mess behind my lips that could break through. It was enough. His hand swung free and heavy.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Try to… just… try to think of good things for yourself.” He looked at the gun again. “Heh. What the hell was I gonna do with this thing? Don’t ever think about trying to kill it, whatever you do. Just take what you have coming and then think of good things for yourself.”

I barely remember getting home. By the time I was through my front door, the details were hazy. My ankle was fine. No cut, no scab, not even a scratch. I slid into bed, trying to remember the thing, the face, the hands, anything, but it was all gone. A haze. My gaze drifted over the shelves around my room, the random toys scattered around, the baseball bat leaning against the corner. I hopped out of bed and brought it close by, feeling like it would keep me safe, not knowing from what. And as I drifted off that night, my last thought was about Little League and wishing I wasn’t too damn fat to play shortstop.

That’s good enough. A whisper, shot through the center of my brain.

Cold sweat broke over my upper lip, then calmness, then sleep.

When I woke up the next morning, I’d forgotten the previous night completely. I was full of energy, light on my feet. I felt ready to take on the world. Things felt a little darker in the afternoon as I walked by Mr. Slater’s house on my way to Mikey’s, but I couldn’t quite peg why. I saw him sitting on his porch, a strange smile on his face. I kept moving, and that night was a Halloween much like any other.

The following year I dropped a lot of weight. Got faster. Made the team. Didn’t think of how or why, just attributed it to hard work and eating right.

Then early October came and I found the postcard on my pillow when I got home from school. I’d like to say I got cold chills when I picked it up, or that it felt like flesh or leathery hide, but no, just plain, cheap cardboard. Typed in a neat white font on one side, it read:

Halloween is almost here. Did you have a good year? What do you want next year? Think hard! Make it worth the having.

I wanted to show the card to my mom, but by the time she’d gotten home from work, it was gone. It was an itch at the back of my mind, every time anyone brought up Halloween, this icicle of dread would rocket down my spine, and then disappear in a haze of thoughts about candy and costumes.

The night before Halloween, laying my costume out before going to bed, my only thoughts were on candy and sneaking around in the dark. It was two in the morning when I woke to a great weight on top of me, pushing the blankets down tight and cocooning me inside. I opened my eyes to see a silhouette, slight shoulders that were a bit too sharp, full breasts that seemed too round, slender arms that pinned me down. It was too dark to see details. I tried to cry out for my parents, but the thing lifted a hand to my mouth, cold boneless fingers clamping down. The palm spread like cold jelly as the thing drew its palm back, forcing one, then two fingers into my mouth. There was a texture to the bottom of them, something between a snake’s belly and octopus suction pads.

Shhhhh…

The whisper in my brain.

Have you thought on it?

Thought on what?

The postcard I sent. What you want for next year.

Who are you?

It doesn’t matter who I am. It matters who you are. You are mine.

How did you—

Just as you hear me in your mind, I hear you in mine. You are mine.

What does that mean?

It means you are mine.

I felt the thing rock down with its pelvis, grind into my stomach.

The agreement is not without benefit to you.

I didn’t agree to anything.

Does a fish agree to feed a shark? Does a tree agree to be struck by lightning? You are mine.

The thing drew closer to me, and I squeezed my eyes shut. Everything grew bright, until I could make out shapes, then colors. Then I could see it in front of me.

You don’t need your ears to hear me, nor your eyes to see. You are mine.

It was mottled and grey. The torso was curved and sensuous, but the head, that too-small head. The puckered sphincter of a mouth that prolapsed in and out, exposing that single jagged tooth. The two giant eyes, bulbous and red, shot with veins but no pupils, the two smaller green eyes in between. No ears. No nose. The tuft of white feathers in a stripe over the shining bald skull. Squeezing my eyes shut tighter only seemed to draw out more clarity.

You need to understand how this works. I will show you. Think of a woman you desire.

I couldn’t. I was twelve. There wasn’t desire yet, only a strange fascination. An occasional stirring if I saw a woman on TV in a swimsuit or that time I sneaked a peek at my dad’s private magazine collection–

And the thing on top of me changed. Hair grew, the head filled in, the face melted and morphed into the perfectly sculpted features of that lady from Beach Patrol that had just done the cover shoot for Playboy. Bronze skin. Swaying breasts. A sculpted collarbone, skin coated in a sheen of sweat, just as I’d seen her in the centerfold.

Better?

It hadn’t changed the feeling of the fingers in my mouth, cold like snails, twitching and probing around my tongue.

Every year on this night, I’m going to find you. I must feed. In exchange, you will tell me something you want, and over the course of the next year, you shall have it.

But I don’t want—

You are—and the fingers extended slowly, pushing against the back of my throat, gagging me –mine. Understand it. Tell me your desire. Make it worth the having.

I want you to leave.

Not part of the bargain. Not your place to ask. You are mine.

The fingers pushed deeper still until I could feel them sliding down into my throat. I couldn’t breathe. Instinct kicked in and I began to thrash. I needed to escape. I bit down hard on the fingers, breaking the skin, cold peppery ichor oozing into my mouth.

The thing didn’t draw back. It moaned. Reached up its other hand and caressed itself.

More.

It pushed hard on my mouth, wanting me to bite. I let my jaw go slack. It sighed, the kind of sigh I was too young to understand as sexually frustrated, and its fingers pulled back. I felt my lungs suck in air. I thought I was going to die. Thoughts of school crossed my mind. Thoughts of family trips I’d never get to take, that I’d never get to see Disney World—

Is that something you desire?

I nodded in spite of myself. The thing on top of me slowly morphed back to its original form, spinning around on my body so I could only see its back. I felt it pulling at the sheets covering my feet.

I want you to think harder next year. Make it good. Make it worth the having. This is scarcely worth a toe, let alone two.

“What, what–”

And I felt the cold fingers of one hand clamp down on my ankle while the other fingers slithered between my toes, constricting them, spreading them apart.

“No,” I said. “Nononono please don’t–”

Next year you will remember this and understand what it means when I say make it worth the having.

Its head lowered down and I felt its lips wrap around my big toe, felt it suck once, twice, then clamp down with a force I can’t describe, that single tooth razoring into the meat of my toe and flicking, cutting, tearing. I screamed. I had to have screamed, but there was no sound. I could feel the blood pumping out of my toe, feel the vibration of serrated tooth on bone; clamping, twisting, pulling, until it was all electricity and cold air, the thing turned to me and pursed its lips. It showed me my toe, sucking it so it would bob in and out of its mouth before tipping its head back and swallowing. The opening between its legs pulsed and shuddered, cold slime pooling onto my sheets. It sighed.

One more.

This time I did get a scream out, a small yelp as it latched onto my second toe and began chewing again. Its leg cracked and bent around at an impossible angle until its foot was over my mouth, spreading like taffy, covering my nose and lips so that no sound could escape, no breath could enter. There was no smell, just electric pain, vibrant agony.

A crack, a tear, and more cold air. The second toe went much easier than the first. It arched its back and swallowed, ripples shivering down its back as it came again. It spun, bringing its face close to mine. I squeezed my eyes shut to no effect.

Enjoy your trip. Next year, think harder.

And without moving its torso, it raised one leg, stretched it toward my window sill, gripping hard. It pulled itself up and out into the night. I stared down over my soaked sheets at my foot, the silhouette in the dark room dancing through the purple lightning of pain. It didn’t seem to be bleeding. It didn’t hurt. I didn’t pass out from the pain, I passed out when I tried to count them and had to stop at three.

I awoke screaming as I felt someone shaking my shoulder. Unbidden, I saw that face, round and leathery and purple, hovering inches from mine.

“Honey, it’s okay!”

When I opened my eyes I saw my mother’s face.

“Are you feeling okay? Your bed is soaked. Did you wet the bed?”

I burst into tears, kicking at the sheets until they came free. I could feel the burning sensation in my toes still, the raw wound scraping at the fabric.

“No!” I shouted. “Look what it did! Look what it did!”

I held my foot up. Five toes. Had I not already been crying, I might have started then. Or possibly even wet the bed out of sheer joy. I wiggled my toes. Jumped out of bed.

“What’s gotten into you?”

My big toe was a bit red. My second toe had a definite hard ridge beneath the skin like a scar, but they were there. They were back. I was whole. My toes were—

Mine

Mine.

“Did you stub your toe last night?” My mom grabbed my foot, poking at my toes.

No pain.

“No, I’m… Ow!”

There was a scab on the underside of my big toe. Damp sheets. No blood. Five toes.

“You need to get up! And be more careful. You get a cut like that, you show me, okay? Otherwise it could get infected and you might lose your toes. You wouldn’t want that, would you?”

I blanched.

“You need to get up. It’s Halloween! Big breakfast to fuel up for a big night, right?”

Her hand sank into the dampness on my sheet, the essence that the creature had left behind in its ecstasy. Her eyes became vacant, distant, as she pulled the sheet off and bunched them on the floor.

“Well. I’ll wash these later. You go run along.” She absently licked at her fingers as she left.

By the time I made it downstairs for breakfast, I’d forgotten about my aching toes. By the time I was out the door, my sheets were in the wash and my mind was on Halloween. The events of the evening never returned to traumatize me. I don’t remember much of the school year that followed, but I remember our vacation. The best time we’d ever had as a family. I remember years later, my parents telling me that trip had been a new beginning for them, bringing them out of a rough patch that I had been blissfully unaware of.

The next year when Halloween drew close, I got another card, this time in my lunchbox at school.

Matte black, this time bearing only the reminder: MAKE IT WORTH THE HAVING.

Reading those words instantly sent a spasm of pain through my foot and up my spine. I couldn’t see the creature in mind, but it was omnipresent, that assault, that pain, and the reward it brought.

The night before Halloween that year, I asked if I could sleep in my parent’s room. And as soon as the question left my mouth, a whisper buzzed through my brain—

Oh no, don’t make them watch. Why would you do that to them?

So I didn’t. I slept in my closet that year, thinking it might not find me, but I was wrong. I could explain this to you. Break it down year by year and tell you what happened, but that’s not why I’m telling you this. It’s about that phrase, Make It Worth the Having.

That second time, it stood at the door of my closet, towering over me, taking on features it must have thought looked friendly, the face shifting from Santa Claus to Jesus to cartoon mice and rabbits.

I don’t want you to go through this for nothing. This is why I want you to think big. If it’s physically possible, it will happen for you. If your only wish is for me to stop, I can only say that I’ll stop when I’m full and finished and I’ll still come back next year. Don’t wish for toys. Don’t wish for things for other people. Think of yourself. Remember our meeting last year, and know that what’s about to happen will be far worse than a few toes. Don’t let this happen for nothing. Make it worth the–

I screamed hard, muffled by the gelatinous glob of fingers it had forced into my mouth again. I just wanted it to shut up. I never wanted to hear that phrase again, but I knew I would. I knew this, all of this, would be happening again, and again.

That’s a big burden to put on the shoulders of a child, right? Have almost anything you want, in exchange for giving the thing what it wants. That’s not accurate. In exchange for the thing taking what it wants. I mean, what can a child think of that would be worth that? The second year, all I could think of was sports cars. It made me try again – why ask for something I couldn’t legally use? Millions of dollars? Same thing. It had to be personal. So the second year, I wished to be the fastest, strongest kid in my school.

Done.

And in exchange for that, for the next 60 minutes, the creature flayed my arms and legs with that horrible tooth, peeled back my skin so my muscles were visible, and chose three strands of tissue from each limb, snapping them near one tendon and pulling them out like spaghetti, lifting it as high as it would go before placing the strand in its mouth and sucking it down greedily, biting off the other end at the tendon. Its gelatinous foot on my mouth the whole time, tiny suctioned footpads inhaling the screams that never made it into the night. Blood everywhere. Pain like I’d never felt, to that point anyway.

When it was done, it left me there, wide open like a biology class project pinned to a tray, trying to sleep and failing miserably. I passed out at some point and woke up in the morning, mildly sore but fully intact, testing out my newfound strength on my dad’s weight bench by the end of the day. By the end of the week, I was running home from school without breaking a sweat. By the end of the school year, I was medaling in every sport I chose.

When October rolled around, when the black postcard fell out a library book I pulled from the shelf, the sinking dread in my stomach was almost matched by the excitement of the next thing to ask for.

That night, it ate half of one my kidneys. Once it managed to pull the organ free it wasn’t so bad, but getting there was sheer hell. Fourteen years old, I made the wish any hormonally rampaging boy would, and that year I got every girl I was interested in. Was it worth it? Hard to say. But that year I came to understand that I was addicted. That I understood what worth the having meant, and that my life was going to improve.

I thought I had it all figured out. I had to try something new, and something new, despite seeing the thing lick its lips, despite seeing the horrible tongue dance over that single stupid tooth in the puckered maw it called a mouth, something new was too enticing to resist. Year by year, piece by piece, I was going to become a better man.

Everything that’s happened in my life is a bit of a blur, but not those nights. Those, I have perfect clarity on. Better-than-perfect eyesight was the year it spent hours working my eyeballs free from the sockets after using one jagged nail to cut my eyelids off. More length and girth downstairs (it was my first year in college, after all), that year was sheer torture. It changed its shape to a calendar girl, arousing me, bringing me to climax orally in spite of myself, the soft supple features of the woman’s body betrayed by the cold, slimy oatmeal feeling of the thing’s mouth and throat. And then came the pain, my member first peeled like a raw potato with that single hooked tooth, then the soft tissue torn free, then the tongue probing into the open wound at my crotch until my testes were pulled free from my body and eaten – no, nibbled, slowly and exquisitely – until they were gone. That night I was on a camping trip, so the thing didn’t even need to muffle my screams, and I obliged it until I was choking on my own vomit and my throat was raw. Physically, I was fine the next day, but it took me a few weeks to get the feeling of it all out of my mind. Once I did, I quickly developed a reputation as Big Man on Campus in every way imaginable. By the end of the year, every man and woman on campus worth having knew my number.

After college, everything became career-oriented. Real Estate. Stock Market. Passive income. I wanted to be rich while having as much free time as possible to research, because I needed to know how to finish this thing. Mikey’s Dad, all those years ago, had simply begged the creature to stop, and when it saw me, it did. I asked it one year if I could do the same thing. It only replied You are mine.

I researched it, through college and beyond, and when I had enough money to hire people, they researched it too. I couldn’t be very specific with them about my reasons, of course, but I could offer grants to religious studies students, hire paranormal investigators, demonologists. Six solid years of research yielded nothing. Not a damn thing. Every ancient society, every dead culture I could study I did, end to end, to the extent that there was some buzz that I’d be nominated for a Nobel for advancing the studies so far. Nobody had heard of the thing. In college, I’d had the idea to go back and ask Mr. Slater about it, but he looked at me like I was crazy.

And I wondered how much time it had spent with him, since his life wasn’t so great. What if that was the first night he’d encountered it? What if the thing had been with him for years and was on a downswing, taking things away instead of granting them? I’d never know.

I was thirty five now, with another Halloween approaching, a wife I loved and my first child on the way. And that was the final straw. I couldn’t have this thing in my life with a child in the house. This year I was going to ask it for an exit.

This year, I received something worse than a black postcard in the mail. This year, the afternoon of what I’d come to think of as Visitation Night, we had to rush to the hospital. Complications. Our baby was lost. It made no sense. My wife was perfectly healthy, and everything had been going fine. But there was no heartbeat, no sign of life. My wife was inconsolable. She had to be sedated, and even as they were putting the IV into her, she was crying out, asking Will this hurt the baby? You can’t give me these drugs, it’ll cause complications…

My wife refused treatment, insisted that they were mistaken. We went home, the doctor pulling me aside to suggest that we let her rest a few days, then discuss inducing labor to finish the procedure.

Finish the procedure. Just like that, our baby had somehow progressed from human being to benign growth. A mole to be scraped off, a boil to be lanced. All of those cardboard pumpkins hanging on the wall, smiling, calm, that stupid friendly skeleton on the door, they were the only witnesses.

That night, it came. Slow, silent, and sad-eyed. It sat at the foot of the couch, where I was sleeping. My wife wanted to be alone, and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t notice that I’d drifted off to sleep, but one minute it wasn’t there and then it was, laying a hand on my calf. I didn’t feel fear. I only felt empty.

I am ready—

Just take something and go, I said.

I am ready to end our bargain.

I was speechless. It felt strange, another gut-punch, another loss, another branch pruned form the tree of my life. I wanted to dictate terms. I wanted a safe exit, but once the baby was gone… I wanted it back. I wanted it to continue. I needed it, this thing, this surety.

I will give you your child.

What?

I will give you your child. I will take it. I will be the surrogate. Tomorrow, you will be a father.

It wasn’t a question or an offer.

“But my wife can’t–”

She will remember nothing.

“I don’t want this. You can’t have it—my child. You can’t. It’s done.”

Have I ever asked your permission for anything? The bargain ends because I say so. You are mine. Tomorrow you will be a father.

It led me to the bedroom. Made me open the door. Made sure my wife… I can’t describe the look I saw on her face, how she instinctively curled her arms over her stomach, a feral glare that burned through me until it came into the room. Then she froze, and softened, and looked at me, her lower jaw working, trying to get out a question, to ask me what was happening.

And it mounted her, stretched its arms out and wrapped those rubbery, cold fingers around her wrists, pinned her legs down, didn’t bother to cover her mouth, because there was nobody to disturb with her screams. All I could do was watch. I knew what it felt like, I knew exactly what she was going through. I chuckled in spite of myself that she’d never be able to hold the pain of this childbirth over my head.

That single tooth tearing her nightshirt open to expose her. That sphincter mouth tracing kisses down her collarbone, between her breasts, suckling at her nipples until milk started to flow, then moving lower, elbows and shoulders dislocating so that it could keep her pinned down. Not that she was fighting at this point, only staring at me with wide eyes, panting for air until the thing’s mouth reached her thighs.

How does it feel?

It asks this as it cuts deep into the inner thigh, flesh and fat zippering apart, its tongue probing into the fresh wound.

How are you doing?

The thing wouldn’t want an answer even if there was one. It only wants screams.

This is going to be worth it. You’re going to love next year. This will make it worth the having.

Its head stretched thin, narrowing impossibly at the mouth, the entire face a tubular beak, a hard proboscis that poked at her vulva until it found its way inside. She screamed then, my wife.

I could do nothing but watch it root, the heat of its palms pushing her legs apart. The cold, slow rivulets of saliva dripping down her sides like icy syrup, washed away with the regular and slowing pulses of her hot blood.

That single tooth in its lower jaw, barbed and curved, that awful knowing smile from the puckered sphincter of its mouth as it comes up for air, slowly retracting its head to stare at me, neck bent round the wrong way, slime coating its face, it made that hideous ring-mouth into an imitation of a smile.

It’s a boy.

Then it plunged the beak into her stomach, slicing through skin, and fat, and muscle, splaying her open as that cold grey slime oozed down her, mixing and pooling with her blood and that ringing, that ringing in my ears isn’t ringing it’s her screaming, screaming for the baby, screaming no, screaming my name, cursing me, damning me, cursing the thing, even as it lowered its face to her flayed abdomen and forced its head inside.

Its back lurched up once, twice, as if taking great gulping swallows, and then it came, orgasmic shudders rippling through its spine as it straightened and stood from the bed, staring at me, one hand cupping its swollen belly. It caressed my cheek, pushed a finger inside my mouth, kept pressing until my knees buckled and it lowered me onto the bed beside my wife, tears streaming from her eyes, her organs warm and wet against my stomach. I reached out to her, stupidly, tried to cradle her in my arms.

The thing stood above us and arched its back, convulsing, straining, eyes swelling until the veins that laced them began to burst and bloody tears flowed. It straddled her, crouching lower until its vagina was positioned above my wife’s open torso and it pushed, pushed until it came…until…you came. A membranous sac, sliding out of its dilated opening and landing inside my wife. I saw through the pale pink membrane your face, calm and serene, sleeping.

Sleeping.

I woke to her screams, my wife clutching my arm, saying “It’s time! Holy shit it’s time, they were wrong! My water broke! Do you feel it?”

I climbed from the bed, soaked, but not in her blood, but amniotic fluid. Aside from that, the sheets were clean in a way my memory could never be.

And we drove to the hospital, and I strode through the doors like a champion, pushing her wheelchair through the throng gathered there, staring down the confused faces of the nurses and doctors, telling them it was time.

They checked signs. They double checked charts. They made me sign waivers promising not to sue over all of this stillbirth confusion, these things happen sometimes, we will of course be paying you for your pain and suffering in exchange for–

I told them to shut the fuck up and do their job. We could discuss it later. There would be a later. There would be a rest of our lives. That’s all that mattered. You are all that mattered. Our son. My son. Mine.

I’m telling you all of this now before you understand it, because I never want you to hear it again. I never want you to know about any of this. It’s gone. It’s gone and it won’t come back. It always keeps its promises. You’re in my arms, with your perfect eyes, your ruddy cheeks, and I love you. More than anything. More than everything. I’m laughing at your gurgles, your tiny nose twitching, your perfect little ruby lips when they stretch into that smile, that same kind of goofy smile your mother gets. Your happy little gummy mouth that looks perfect. Perfect and normal except for that one thing that confused the doctors.

That single, smooth tiny tooth breaking through your lower gums. Doctors say this isn’t unusual, they call them natal teeth. I know better. You yawn wide, showing me that tiny ivory blade, and you stare at me placidly, and I can only think, worth the having.

“Worth the Having” © 2015 Michael Paul Gonzalez. All rights reserved.

BIO:

Michael Paul Gonzalez is an author and monkey enthusiast. His novels include MISS MASSACRE’S GUIDE TO MURDER AND VENGEANCE and ANGEL FALLS. His short story WORTH THE HAVING is featured in the new HWA-LA Chapter anthology HALLOWEEN TALES. He is a master of useless 80s trivia and he’s very pretty.

You can find him at MichaelPaulGonzalez.com


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Published on: February 25, 2015

Filled Under: Articles, Featured, Short Stories

Views: 3546

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