|We Love You So
Author: CrankyHornedNoseJudithFngrl PM
21 years have passed since Max has traveled to Where the Wild Things Are. Now he has a beautiful, imaginative 9-year-old daughter who has discovered the same strange and wild place that he did long ago.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Hurt/Comfort/Adventure - Words: 3,231 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 11 - Follows: 6 - Published: 12-03-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5555468
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
We Love You So
Saw them /through the big, frond leaf /in the jungle /with the other beasts. /So, I crawled in /tryin' to make a friend /but they weren't havin' none of it /no, they weren't havin' none of it. - The Human from their song, The Other Beasts
Twenty-one years had passed since Max had ventured to Where the Wild Things Are. Now he was married with a nine-year-old daughter and taught at the local public high school. His daughter, Rina, reminded Max very much of himself when he was her age, only she was quieter and more introspective. Mostly she kept to herself and drew pictures of fantasy creatures.
Max's wife, Caroline, had unfortunately been diagnosed with bipolar disorder about a year ago. When she took her medicine, she was the sweet, warm, friendly mother that Rina was accustomed to. But when her mother began to stabilize, she would slack off on her medication, and scenes like this would unfold…
Rina sat at the kitchen table, rubbing the spot on her cheek where her raging mother had struck her. All she could do was stare up at her mother with tears streaming down her face. Rina was so stricken with fear and crushing sadness that she could not even move.
"You eat that grilled cheese or you're not going to Heaven!" Caroline shrieked at her daughter as she whirled around the kitchen, purposelessly banging pots and pans.
Rina didn't even like grilled cheese. Her daddy didn't like frozen corn, and she didn't like grilled cheese. Had mommy forgotten?
"That food is a gift from God!" Caroline bellowed. "God has no love in his heart for little girls who refuse his gifts! THERE'S NO ROOM IN HEAVEN FOR UNGRATEFUL BRATS!!!"
Every time her mother raged, Rina tried hard to glimpse a love light in her mother's eyes. She tried this now, and when she could find none, she burst into tears afresh. Her upper set of teeth lost their hold on her bottom lip and she gave a sobbing, "Uuuh-hhhuuuuuhhhh" sound.
Caroline stopped in her crazed dance around the kitchen to come face to face with Rina. The look on her mother's face was enough to make the little girl wet herself out of sheer fright. Issuing sad moans and reaching out for a mother's care was not allowed right now.
"ENOUGH! You're getting exactly what you deserve!" Caroline roared savagely, and slapped Rina across her already sore cheek.
Her father was home! Oh, thank you, God! Rina's father would fix things! He was always able to stop her mother from raging, talking to angels who weren't there, or writing meaningless words on the walls of her bedroom.
Horrorstruck, Max threw down his teaching materials and dashed across the kitchen to restrain his wife. Rina wanted desperately to move from her chair to seek comfort from her father, but she still felt too numb to move.
"Rina, go to your room and stay up there until I come to get you!" Max cried as he secured his wife's fists and fumbled with his cell phone. Rina didn't need telling twice; she leaped off her chair and ran upstairs as fast as her legs could carry her.
Max speed-dialed the Our Lady of Peace Crisis Center and frantically yelled into the mouthpiece, "Hello, this is Max Raymonds, and my wife, Caroline, is having a bipolar rage…."
Rina drew her legs into her stomach and rocked back and forth on her bed. She looked around the room at all of the Wild Thing pictures that her father had drawn for her. When Max had returned from his journey, he had told his mother and sister all sorts of stories about where he had gone. After all, he had made a promise to Daniel the bull that he would say good things about them when he went back, and he made sure he honored that promise. As it turned out, however, Max's loyalty to his furry friends earned him a trial period on Ritalin, at the suggestion of his mother's new husband.
Rina stopped rocking and began to think very hard. The home situation hadn't improved since her mother was diagnosed. She didn't smile or sing to Rina as much as she used to, and she just didn't have as much warmth to her anymore. Rina looked over at a picture that her father had drawn of a fuzzy, striped Wild Thing with a pink button nose, feathery legs, and sad, knowing eyes. Max had told her that the creature's name was Carol, and in the picture, Carol was smiling and cradling a likeness of Rina in his warm, comforting arms. Rina clutched at the drawing and wept brokenheartedly for the warmth and tenderness that she would never know.
Just then, the door opened, and Max cautiously walked in. He sat down on Rina's bed and pushed the wild, black hair away from her slapped cheek to examine it.
"Did she do that to you?" he asked her gently. Rina nodded calmly.
Max sighed. "I'm so sorry. I should have been home earlier."
Rina shrugged and pulled out the drawing again; trying not to look at her father.
"Not your fault," she muttered.
"You know, don't you, that I'll never hurt you, Rina," Max reassured his daughter.
He then scooped her up in his arms and rocked her gently from side to side.
"I'll eat you up, I love you so," he whispered to her; echoing the words spoken lovingly to him by KW almost twenty-one years ago. He still had not forgotten her soothing touch, or how she'd saved him from becoming a victim of Carol's violent panic.
After a while, he sat Rina down. He looked her in the eyes solemnly.
"Rina, there is something I have to tell you," he began. "Your mother is very sick, and Daddy called some doctors to come get her and keep her in the hospital for a while, until she feels better. She may not be back for a long time; no one knows when she will be back, but…"
Rina was stunned. Her mother had been taken away from her and no one knew when she would return?
"NO!!!!" Rina cried, wrenching herself out of her father's arms and out of her room, down the stairs, and out the front door.
"Rina, come back! Where are you going??" Max cried out in panic as he barreled towards the front door to try and catch his daughter. But then he noticed the direction she was running in. She seemed to be running towards the same forest he had run towards when he was just her age. When he realized that, he knew for certain that she would be all right. She would be safe where she was going.
"Oh, thank, you, Jesus," he prayed as he knelt and began to sob convulsively. "Thank you so much…I know she'll be all right now."
Rina ran further and further into the forest until she came to a clearing with a mass of thin, broken branches near a shoreline. Exhausted from fear and from running, she fell forward and just lay on her stomach for a moment or two, sobbing.
Suddenly, she noticed a boat at the water's edge. She looked at it in wonder. Would it take her far away from all the bad things in her life? Should she get into it and go where it took her? Would she find some friends?
She then decided that anything was better than staying where she was. So, she stepped into the small boat, hoisted the sail, and drifted away from the shore. She never did notice the name "Max" carved into a section of the hull. All she wanted to do was get away.
Her voyage seemed to take the longest time. Maybe it was because Rina was at the age when ten minutes seemed more like an hour, but at this point, it felt as though she had been on the boat for a day, a span of weeks; practically a year! Just the same, she waited patiently to see where the boat would take her.
As she spotted a mountainous island in the distance, the sky darkened and a thunderstorm began. Waves crashed around Rina and drenched her with freezing cold water. At last, she found an outcropping of rocks; the perfect place to moor her boat while she explored the island! She ducked under the water and pushed the boat up onto the rocks to steady it, and then walked towards the island, panting and shivering.
She realized that the only way to get up onto the island's surface was to scale the mountain peaks that bordered it. Rina was nervous about climbing the mountain, but she wanted to explore after having been confined to a boat all this time. Besides, she could hear voices coming from the surface, and she curious to see who lived there.
When she finally made it up the mountainside, she was trembling from the cold and her teeth were chattering. She staggered through some brush and brambles until she saw an encampment with several perfectly circular little houses with controlled fires burning around them. Rina walked over to investigate.
She didn't notice a thick tree root snaking its way out of the ground, and she tripped and fell forward.
She hoisted herself up again, spitting out wood chips and dirt. Then she heard a staccato, gentlemanly voice ask, "Hey, are you all right?"
Rina looked up, and to her amazement, saw that there was a huge, upright-walking chicken looking down at her with concern. A chicken who was missing an arm that had been haphazardly replaced by a stick.
"Oh, dear, you're absolutely filthy!" the chicken exclaimed fussily, lifting her off her feet with his one available arm and brushing the grime and dirt away with his feathers. Rina stared at the chicken. He looked familiar…had she seen him in one of her father's drawings once?
"And you're soaking wet, too! It's a good thing I found you!" the chicken went on. Then he called over his shoulder, "Judith! Ira! Alex! Come over here; I've found something!"
Then he turned his attention back to Rina.
"Oh, I'm sorry! I should introduce myself! My name is Douglas, and this…" he went on, gesturing towards the other creatures who were hurrying over, "… is Judith, Ira, and Alex."
"Well, well; look what the huge chicken dragged in," cracked Judith, the beast with a lion's mane and a rhino horn.
"Aaaawww, she's shivering," murmured Ira, a melancholy fellow with horns and a big nose.
"It won't bite us, will it?" asked Alexander, a small, white goat creature who cowered behind Judith.
Douglas set Rina down.
"Well, what do you think? We LOVE having visitors!" he beamed at her.
It took Rina a while to find her voice. Finally she said, "M..my name's Rina. It's very nice to meet you all," before she shivered convulsively and let out a big sneeze.
Judith yelped and jumped out of the way of the snot shower. "Say it, don't spray it!" she exclaimed, laughing.
"Oh, dear, you mustn't catch cold! We need to get you warm!" Douglas fretted.
Judith tsk'ed, shook her head, and walked over to Rina. She scooped the little girl up and enveloped her in her warm, fuzzy arms.
"There, this should keep you warm, hun!" she said soothingly, as she rocked the little girl gently back and forth. She smiled down at Rina. She was starting to feel rather fond of her. A lot of the child's traits reminded Judith of the little cub she always wanted. Those who knew Judith would never guess that she wanted cubs of her own, which was why she kept this longing a secret.
Rina eyed Judith's horn and reached up to touch it.
Judith frowned and and gently pushed Rina's hand away.
"Ah-ah-ah, don't go touching my horn; it's really sharp," she warned the girl.
"Yeah, but it's cool," Rina replied, stroking the horn gently.
"You're tickling me," Judith giggled, rubbing her horn where Rina had stroked it. "But it feels good."
Ira, Alexander, and a huge bull named Daniel who had just now joined the group, were now completely dumbfounded as they watched Judith and Rina interact. They couldn't remember the last time Judith had taken anyone in her arms, warned someone away from danger, or giggled. Usually Judith was turned completely inward, was sassy and pessimistic, and her cure-all solution for any kind of problem was to "eat it!"
Douglas broke into everyone's bewilderment with his fussing.
"Where's KW? We need a motherly touch over here, and fast!" he dithered, apparently not realizing that Judith had the situation well under control.
"She's off somewhere…AGAIN," came a tough-sounding, yet sniffly and choked-up voice from behind a tree.
Douglas sighed exasperatedly and shook his head. "KW can't just keep wandering off all the time! We need her now!"
Rina looked over at the beast emerging and realized that it resembled Carol from her father's drawing! She fished the drawing out of her pocket and looked at it, then back at the creature. It WAS Carol!
"Hey, Carol! Is that YOU?" she called over to the fuzzy, striped Wild Thing with the pink button nose, feathery legs, and the sad, knowing eyes.
Carol stopped in his tracks and noticed Rina for the first time.
"Yes….it's me," he replied, his eyes wide. "How do you know my name? And where did you come from all of a sudden?"
Rina smiled and handed her drawing to him. Carol took it from her and read what was written at the bottom of the page: "Carol with Rina- by Rina's father, Max."
Carol looked up and stared at Rina. "You're…you're Max's….you're Max's little cub," he said weakly.
"Uh, huh," Rina replied, taking hold of Carol's paw.
All of the Wild Things gaped at the little girl in Judith's arms for a moment. Then they all graced her with soft, sad, wistful smiles.
Carol shuffled closer to Rina with a grateful smile, and pressed his face into her stomach and cried happy tears.
In all of the rigmarole, Rina's cold had become worse, and Carol had sent Douglas to find KW (wherever she was) and put together some medicine for the sick little girl.
Carol crawled into his little circular house with Rina snug in his arms.
"Well, this is my little house," he told her, trying to sound cheerful about it. In truth, he'd never cared for the tiny little houses because they kept all the Wild Things apart from one another.
Very soon, Douglas showed up. He crawled into the house, breathless.
"I managed to find KW, and she's coming right away!" he assured Carol. He looked over at Rina and grinned. "She's so excited to be meeting the daughter of our previous king!"
Rina smiled back, and then sneezed.
"Oh my, not another one!" Douglas cried, scooping Rina into his one arm. "That makes your fifth sneeze since you arrived! I've been keeping track!"
Rina looked amused. The Wild Things could be really funny. "You have?"
"Certainly I have! You sound just like me when the spring flowers are pollinating! I have this thing where I get hay fever every summer and fall! Do you know what folks do when they get hay fever?" Douglas asked as a means of engaging the girl.
"Uuuummmm…..they sneeze a lot?" Rina volunteered.
"Very good! They sneeze a lot!" Douglas replied. "And it so happens that when I sneeze, I lose some feathers, and they go all over the place! So, anyone who happens to be near me at the time starts sneezing, too!"
Rina had to laugh at this.
"It's true," Carol affirmed with a grin. He rubbed his finger under his nose as if all of this talk about feathers and sneezes made his nose tickle.
Just then, KW, a pretty female Wild Thing, arrived at the front of the hut carrying a bowl. Rina looked over at her and smiled.
She looks just like she does in Dad's drawings, Rina thought.
KW returned her smile. "All right, you guys; comin' through with medicine!" she announced.
Rina looked at Douglas, puzzled. "Are you gonna take medicine, Douglas? For your hay fever?"
Carol looked at Rina and laughed. "No, YOU are!" he replied, poking her in the chest.
"Me??" Rina asked. She didn't really care for medicine.
"Yes, you!" KW answered teasingly as she squeezed inside the house.
Douglas realized it was getting crowded and beat a hasty retreat out the door.
"I better go, fellows; it's getting kinda tight in here," he said, waving goodbye.
"Yeah," Carol replied, more to himself than to Douglas. "That's one of the issues we have with these small houses…not enough room for everybody."
KW looked up at Carol when he said that, but quickly looked away as she mixed up the medicine with a pestle.
"Glad you came back," Carol ventured, trying to catch her eye. He didn't succeed.
Instead, KW turned her attention to Rina.
"So, you're Max's daughter, huh? Welcome to Where the Wild Things Are," she said warmly.
KW gave her a sympathetic look.
"Poor little cub. Not feeling too well, huh? Well, don't worry; this medicine will make you feel better," KW assured her. She gently pushed the bowl towards Rina.
Rina shied away. "I-I don't know…"
KW leaned forward and looked into Rina's eyes.
"You know, Rina, this medicine was made from the same recipe my mother used when I was a cub. All those nights when I was sick, and I threatened to wake the herd with sniffles, coughs, and sneezes that seemed to rock the trees, she would get up, no matter what time it was, and find some medicine for me to take."
Then she smiled and leaned closer. "And after I had the medicine, I felt much better, and we both fell back asleep, all snuggled up! You and I can do the same thing afterwards, if you want."
Rina lit up. Her own mother had never said that to her.
"Okay, I'll take it!" she said, seizing the bowl from KW.
"That-a-girl, Rina!" Carol cheered.
Later on that night, Rina was just about to drift off asleep next to Carol and KW in the cozy, circular little hut. KW had been right; her cold was much better. How wonderful it was to have friends who really cared for you as a person. She'd return home soon to tell her father, and maybe her mother, about all the adventures she'd had. But not yet. Not yet.