Debt Collection

“But Dad,” the boy peered through the dark windscreen, “you never take me out anywhere.”
“Well, today is special,” I replied, parking the car in the forest clearing. “You don’t turn 12 every day.”
“You ignored all my other birthdays,” the boy sulked. “Susan and Fred always have parties but you never do anything for me! So why are we out in the woods? I hate woods.”
“Because I came here once before,” I focused on keeping my voice steady. I had always told myself that he had the right to know, just before the time came. I owed him that much. “Before your mother and I started dating. I loved her very much. She didn’t love me. So I … made an arrangement to make her love me. But there was a price.”
A red light waxed slowly around the car. I could feel those hellish eyes on the back of my neck again.
“My first-born son.”
For a moment he was flash-frozen in a tangled expression of disbelief and terror. Then he, and the mist, were gone. I slumped against the steering wheel.
“It didn’t seem worth getting attached.”

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