Letters to Hyacinth
“Read it again daddy,” Little Sara squealed. She nearly bounced from the divan in her excitement. Ariala hid behind her kerchief as she whispered encouragement to her sister. But Hyacinth, with a deep frown, glared at her father and his brazen attempt to excite the girls so close to bedtime.
Roger looked at each girl in turn as he held the book aloft, ready to climb back into the narrative. It was Hyacinth, always Hyacinth that set him to rights. She had been the voice of reason when he had his lapses in judgment. Better to keep her happy than reap the rewards of children who would not sleep soundly. He flipped the book to the table of contents and read the titles allowed. “The Salesman’s Journey, Black against the Grey Skies, or how about, The Precious Gift?”
Sara and Ariala groaned in unison and Hyacinth arched a brow at the titles. “We haven’t heard, The Precious Gift in quite some time,” Hyacinth said. “That one is most appropriate before we girls turn in for the night.”
He nodded, licked his thumb and forefinger, then flipped the book to the first page of the story. Roger cleared his throat, a signal to the girls to settle. The two younger girls pinched and poked each other, provoking giggles and squeals until Hyacinth cleared her throat. They went silent and lay back in their bed, their eyes scanned the ceiling.
Hyacinth nodded at her father and leaned back in her chair. She let free a deep breath as he began the story, his words a calming force on not only the younger girls but to a deep place in her heart as well. It was the same story. One she had heard now, what was it, 100 times, no 1000 times before. She mouthed the words as her father read them. He didn’t look up from the book as he read. She closed her eyes and absorbed the inflections and character voices that her father used to influence the telling of the tale.
The girls had begun to snore when the glitch happened. It hadn’t begun with them. Instead it was in the words of her father. A quick stutter, enough to break her out of the spell of the story. She opened her eyes in time to see him and the girls flicker. A few moments later the image skipped and fractured completely.
Darkness fell as the holo-chamber shut down around her. She had been left alone on her chair, within the silence of an empty room.
“Computer,” she called.” “Restart personal file 53.”
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