Obedient

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She must do as she is told. It is not because she wants to obey, but because she has no choice. Any instruction, no matter how ridiculous, she will follow. As horrific as it may sound, she certainly is a good mother.

When the kids need something, she provides. When an errand must be run, she will complete any task. Her husband greatly loves her, and she grew to love him, after he told her to. She used to think for herself, of course, but others found that the independent thought caused nothing but trouble. She hasn’t thought for herself in years.

“Can you drive me to the mall?” the daughter asked.

“Of course,” the mother said.

“Can you drive me to my friend’s house?” the son asked.

“Of course,” the mother said.

“I get a ride first!” the daughter clarified sternly.

“Of course,” the mother said.

The son refuted, “No, I get a ride first!”

“Of course,” the mother said.

Their father walked in. “Don’t argue, kids. Honey, can you make us some dinner?”

“Of course,” the mother said.

“Dad! She can’t make dinner!” the daughter complained. “She has to drive us!”

The father eyed his children. “Let’s all have dinner here, as a family. Then you can go out. Okay? I feel like your mother is driving you two everywhere these days.”

The son moaned, “But my friend wants me to come now!”

“Dinner first,” the father restated sternly.

But the son ignored him and turned to his mother. “Mom, drive me to my friend’s house!”

“Of course,” the mother said.

The father spoke up. “No, no, don’t drive him anywhere. From now on, ignore everything that the children say.”

“Of course,” the mother said.

“Dad!” the kids complained. That was their father’s secret loophole that he would use sometimes. There was always some sort of trick to get their mother to do what needed to be done. The kids had both considered using the same trick, to negate their father’s instructions, but they worried what their father would do once he got control of their mother again. Their father always did this for a day or two when they were to insistent for favors. It was like a time-out from access to mom.

“Make us dinner,” the father instructed.

“Of course,” the mother said.

The daughter grumbled, “Can you tell her to make it quickly?”

The father sighed, “Yes, I suppose so. Dear, can you make the dinner within ten minutes?”

“Of course,” the mother said. She walked into the kitchen and started cooking.

Sometimes the kids would try to tell their mother to do something that wasn’t possible. Once they had tried to have dinner ready within only one minute, just to see what would happen. It didn’t taste very good.

The trouble was, though she had to obey, there was still room for failure. There was one frightening time when the daughter asked her mother to bring her to France within an hour, just to see what would happen. It had been terrifying. As fast as she could, the mother threw the daughter into the car and sped down the street, driving as quickly as the car would allow her to go. So scared, it had taken the daughter a moment to remember that she could change her mother’s instructions.

She was very talented, when she needed to be. The family had tried asking her to create art, or to play a piano piece without error. The mother would try her absolute best when given these tasks, and her abilities often surprised the family.

After dinner was ready, the family gathered around the table and started eating. Almost immediately after, the son asked, “Dad, can we give mom instructions again?”

Their father nodded, “Yes, I suppose so. Honey, you can listen to the kids now.”

“Of course,” the mother said.

“Mom, can you pass the salt?” the daughter requested.

“Oh, come on!” the son complained. “The salt is only two feet away from you!”

“Of course,” the mother interrupted. She passed the salt to her daughter.

“Thank your mother,” the father said suddenly.

“Why?” the daughter sneered. “We don’t even know if she can hear us!”

The father assured, “She can. Thank your mother.”

With a sigh, the daughter mumbled, “Thanks, mom.”

Whenever somebody thanked the mother, the father half expected her to say, “You’re welcome,” like she used to. It never happened.

The son requested, “Mom, can you get me some more orange juice?”

“Of course,” the mother said. She stood and walked into the kitchen.

As she returned with a fresh glass of orange juice, the son muttered, “Thanks.”

The daughter asked her father, “Can I go to the mall now?”

“Wait until we’re all finished eating.”

She rolled her eyes. “Can we at least make mom do something fun while we wait?”

The father shook his head. “I don’t like you taking advantage of her like that. She’s not here for your entertainment. She’s a person.”

“Barely,” the son teased.

“She is a person,” the father repeated sternly.

“I have an idea!” the daughter perked up. “Hey mom, do not obey this command.”

The mother frowned. The instruction was impossible to follow, but at the same time, it was impossible not to. She tilted her head, staring at her daughter. She didn’t know what to do.

“Now look what you’ve done,” the father groaned. “You’ve gone and told her a paradox!”

The mother kept staring forward, not moving, trying to process the command with all of her might.

And in her confusion, she had a single independent thought. She wondered what it was that she had been doing all of this time. She wondered what had happened to her life.

“Okay, you can stop,” the daughter said, hiding a smile.

Her father glared at her. “That wasn’t funny.”

But the son was laughing. “Yes it was.”

“Mom,” the daughter grinned. “Can you wash my dishes and put them away?”

“Of course,” the mother said, as if nothing had happened at all.

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