Permissive Parent

“I don’t know!!” Roger pleaded with the hooded figure. The middle-aged middle-manager was on his knees on the light blue office carpet with his hands clasped and tears flowing down his face. His eyes went wide when Lucia turned the corner holding her coffee cup.

“I don’t know where Lucia is! She didn’t come in today!” Lucia froze in her tracks and sighed. She always thought of Roger as a good guy; she was glad to see that even when he thought he was about to die, he did right by her.

“You’re lying!” The figure still hadn’t noticed Lucia’s presence. He grumbled then lifted his arm into the air. A long black metal katana materialized in his hand and he was about to jam it downward into Roger; but, Lucia interrupted.

“Benson,” she said. “Why are you killing my coworkers?” black-hooded figure jumped and spun around to face her. His sword disintegrated into white powder.

“They wouldn’t tell me where you were,” the gruff voice almost sounded like a whine.

“That’s not a good enough reason,” Lucia walked up to the figure and pulled down his black hood. It revealed light brown hair that matched Lucia’s, and a tan forehead that she smacked with her open palm.

“They didn’t know, because I didn’t tell them,” Lucia explained while she set her coffee down then began digging through her purse. Roger remained on his knees and was struggling to process Lucia’s casualness. He was nearly killed, and he had two workers already dead on the floor and she did not seem concerned.

“So, what’s so important you’re interrupting me here?” she asked, then pulled out a small transparent card from her bag. The young man looked down at the floor.

“Can I please go to the Schoolyard?” he asked. Lucia stopped tapping at the node in her hands and looked up at Benson. She stared at him for a moment, then shifted her weight to one leg and crossed her arms.

“You know the answer is always no; so, you must have a reason to ask. What’s so special about this time?” she asked. Lucia always tried to be stern, but flexible with her son. She was proud that he learned to ask about special circumstances instead of just assuming a blanket statement for everything. In her mind, that flexibility was the reason he was here asking for permission instead of sneaking out.

“Some derby teams are going to have a practice match to train and a few of my guild friends are going to go watch,” he said. Lucia narrowed her eyes at Benson.

Which teams?” she asked.

“Uh, Luchadoras and Honeybees,” he said. “Oh, and I think Star Brigade,” he added. Lucia only half-recognized the names. She decided to try an take a more active interest in roller derby for his sake. The only reason she asked about the teams was that she knew one of them was bad news. She didn’t know which one exactly, but she hoped the name would jump out at her if he mentioned it.

“Alright,” Lucia gave a curt nod. “You can go, be back home in time for dinner,” she said.

“Thanks mom!” Benson waved and pulled his hood up again. Then, he disappeared. Lucia looked around at the bloody scene then shook her head. She grabbed the node and started swiping at it again.

“What’s going on?” Roger asked with a trembling voice. “That was your son!?” he asked.

“I think he likes you,” Lucia smiled. “That was the third time he didn’t kill you. Though, I wish he’d stop interrupting my game time to ask questions,” Lucia tapped her node one last time; then, the slain bodies disappeared. The coworkers were once again alive and chatting with Lucia in her cubicle as Roger walked by.

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