#20: Aidan Carran

| November 20, 2011 | 0 Comments

He should not be, but he is.

Like most children, he is born to a mother and a father. His father is sandy haired and hazel eyed, and Aidan takes most after him. They have the same dimpled chin, square, almost-heavy jaw, and mirthful eyes, but Aidan has the same thick, auburn hair as his mother. It’s the only obvious trait he inherited from her, and growing up, he thinks that it is as if she is leaving no trace on the world. Except not. He doesn’t think it for the longest time because things like mendelian inheritance and polymorphic traits are nothing but too many letters strung together.

He doesn’t really think about his family much until an assignment from school makes him discover his family tree. The assignment upsets him a bit, mostly because some kids in his class already had relatives do it for them, but he has to look up dead relatives who mean nothing to him on his own. Names and names, some similar to his and some not, and he puts numbers next to them and draws lines between them. Brothers and sisters, parents and child, cousins and cousins. His father’s family is huge, and he wonders if they could have been kings and queens in a different world than this.


He nearly fails the assignment though, because as detailed as his father’s side of the tree is, his mother’s is so severely pruned that it’s a twig, connecting mother to son. Try as he might, he can find no information about her, no blood connecting him to relatives she no longer speaks to. He is her only family, as far as he can tell.

The same week he comes home in tears, holding his water-stained assignment, his mother talks with the teacher. Aidan doesn’t know what she says to his teacher, but he gets full marks the next day. He imagines that she tells him that she was not born but hewn from dust. She has no earthly family that mere humans would understand.

(Things he should never know but finds out much later: his mother was not born but created, DNA copied from her own future (or is it past?) and woven into being. She is a paradox that must exist.)


When he was much younger, he wanted a little brother or sister. Mostly a little brother because he had heard that little sisters were Annoying. Any sort of sibling would do, though. He would have someone to play with after lessons ended, and because he would be the older one he would show them how to do things, too. His favourite part of learning a new game was to teach it to others, and that was hard when all of his friends already knew.

But his mother would always shake her head no, even if his father gave a non-committal maybe. One night, when he had asked a little too often the eternal question ‘why?’, his father asks, too, and his parents proceed to have the Worst Row Ever. Not that he sees it. He gets shooed out of the room quickly by his mother, her blue eyes as hard as diamonds, but the remnants last for days: frigid silences, awkward hair smoothing, and a few empty bottles of Guinness, which is a Truly Bad Sign because Dad hates that piss water except on Special Occasions, like rows.

He doesn’t ask why again, and proceeds to make every other kid on the street his little brother or sister, even if they were, technically, older than him.


He is twelve when his father leaves. The last night he sees his father alive, he comes into Aidan’s bedroom. His father doesn’t know he is awake. If he did, he wouldn’t have said those words:

“I can’t stay,” he says. He strokes Aidan’s hair and kisses him on the forehead. “I thought I could. I thought that maybe if I loved her hard enough that she would come around, but I can’t do it anymore. Be strong.”

He kisses Aidan one last time, closes the door, and walks out of his life forever.


He spends the next six years of his life wondering if his father didn’t love him, or didn’t love him enough to stay.

Six years, because freak accidents happen.


He is fifteen when he loses his virginity to a classmate. She is hardly a sweet girl, but you wouldn’t know that from the way she wears her uniform at school (completely within regulation, right down to the freshly pressed, perfect pleats of her skirt) or the sensible ponytail her hair is (almost) always tied back in (easy and quick, like she is). But he knows because they are too similar not to know. The broken, jagged pieces he sees in himself – because he is fifteen and every fifteen year old sees them even if they are, in fact, rather dull – are in her, too. She knows what it is like to lose a father (and it is loss, because they are still alive somewhere but in uncharted lands).

They don’t go to school the next day, suddenly girlfriend and boyfriend, nor do they come to school, suddenly ex-girlfriend and ex-boyfriend. They completely ignore each other until the next school-wide party, when she’s drunk and talking about how he was in bed (vanilla, she says, with a slur that makes it more like bani’a) so he starts to talk about how he got her there.

He never hated her until that moment. She just wasn’t broken enough to understand.

(He thinks that in another world than this, because he still believes in those more than he believes in things like God and other people, that they could have loved each other, fitting their broken pieces together until they were whole again.)

(He is wrong.)


He knows his mother is strange because she has no family. She had no support system, not after his father left and took his whole family with him. Without him, it was just Aidan and Erin. That wasn’t too strange, though. He wasn’t the only kid to be raised by just a mother.

It’s the other things, though. The things that made his father run away and never come back, and probably drove other men away, too.

The way she looks at people as if trying to find someone. She doesn’t know quite what they look like, but when (if) she finds them she will know who (what) they are.

(She did once, lips turning into such a large smile that Aidan wondered how her face even had room for it, but Aidan hauled her off  down a street before she could run up to the Russian and do whatever to him.)

The way she looks at the sky, night and morning and every hour between, as if it might be the last time she will see it.

(Worse is when she stares at it as though it is supposed to do something for her. Give her back her ex-husband, except she never cried once over losing him like Aidan had.)

The way she looks at Aidan in amazement.

(Like he is not supposed to exist.)


The weirdest thing about her is the fact that she knows how to use a spear. It’s strange enough that she knows how to fight in the first place and used to work as the World’s Little Bouncer. She could outmuscle his dad on any occasion and beat anyone at a wrestling match. She’s five foot six, always wears heels, and has embarrassed more than one drunk. All of that is not nearly as weird as the fact that she can use a f***ing spear.

Why and how, he has no idea. It’s just another of his mother’s many quirks, and one of the more benign ones (to him, at least), so he tries not to think about it too much.


He is eighteen when he dies because freak accidents can also be called Really Sudden Accidents.


He is eighteen when he wakes up again, his body red and wispy, like a bloody ghost. Light shines from his body and he knows. He knows everything or near to it – this Game he is now a part of, that his mother was created for, and the rules of it – and he knows what his purpose is.

And he knows who this boy is in front of him, who never knew any father and was more loved by his (their) mother and brought about this end, and he doesn’t care if this boy is supposed to create the new world because there will be no place in it for Aidan, the Boy Who Shouldn’t Have Been (and he knows this, too, and it doesn’t hurt nearly as much as the fact that this is the son his mother was waiting for), and–

–he might not be able to break the Game with his own hands now, but he can break this boy.

Tags: ,

Category: 2011, Fantasy, Horror, Scifi, WTF

About the Author ()

Leave a Reply