Today’s entry in my quick online reads series, comes at a huge delay! Photography blogger, Fragglerocking, was kind enough to provide a photo prompt for a flash fiction. You should definitely check out her site! She goes on tons of cool adventures with her camera, and always has some amazing shots to share with us.
I toyed with ideas for this one for a while, and settled on one in particular. In the middle of writing though, it changed track a little. I was going to write a scene where the children in the story were watching their parents fight through a window as it all went horribly wrong, but in approaching that point in the story, I realised that during intense fear, it’s as if we are existing in a dream state, watching ourselves act on instinct from outside of ourselves. I stuck with that and am satisfied with it’s tie-in to the prompt. Now, let’s get on with it!
Rebecca and I sat on my bed, trying our best not to listen. We were supposed to be sleeping, but my father’s voice bounced off every wall in the house, and vibrated up the stairs into our bedroom.
Sometimes Mummy left the chain off the door, but never when Daddy had been drinking. When Daddy was drinking, the chain stayed on. We didn’t come out, he didn’t come in. Out of sight, out of mind, out of reach. Out of everything but earshot.
“Jimmy, I’m scared,” Rebecca said, cradling the pillow around her ears like I showed her, “Why is daddy so angry?” Her eyes glistened with the tears she fought back, big and blue—too big for her face—like our mother.
I put my hands on hers and pressed the pillow firmer against her ears. “Don’t worry Becks.” I kissed her on the head and laid her back on the bed. “Just don’t listen, okay? Try and get some sleep.”
The shouting got louder then, and Mummy made the mistake of shouting back. The sound of a slap cracked through the house. Silence.
Silence that stretched a lifetime.
Rebecca darted upright. I sat perfectly still, holding my breath. Rebecca shuffled closer and nuzzled her head into my shoulder. We had both heard the sound of our father’s back-hander before. Had each felt it’s sting for ourselves. This was different. Had Mummy… slapped him?
Seconds after we heard the sound of smashing and crashing all throughout the downstairs, while father screamed words we weren’t allowed to say at the top of his lungs. Becks cuddled up to me, shaking. Mum was quiet now, probably cowering in the corner while father tore through the house like an enraged bull. I’d seen it before, and the next morning always included helping mum clean up the wreckage while she quietly sobbed, whimpering as she crunched down from where father had broken and bruised her ribs.
I pushed Rebecca off and leapt up to my bedroom door, banging and kicking and screaming, “Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!” All I could do to help. I had to get out of the room. I wasn’t sure what I could do, if anything, but I couldn’t sit on the bed quietly while my mum was abused and intimidated any longer. It had to stop.
Becks was crying now, and rocking back and forward on the bed. Still wrapped in her quilt, still cradling the pillow around her head. The side of my hand was aching with impact shock, but I kept banging. Kept screaming. I’d scream and I’d bang until I pushed out a hole in my door if I had to, even if it broke every bone in my hand. In a rush of wisdom beyond my years, I felt how my mother must’ve felt. Desperate to escape, desperate to fight back and end it, But powerless. My obstacle was a stupid wooden door with a two pound chain from ‘Discount Hardware UK,’ while hers was a sixteen stone man fuelled with drink and hate.
I banged and kicked and screamed and cried, entranced, dazed, desperate. The whole time was a blur, like a dream. Like I was watching myself from behind a glass window, sad and scared and secretly hoping that the door held true.
The sound of the doorbell ended the sounds of our father’s destruction. My panic faded away in that second, and I came back to myself. Becks continued to whimper and rock on the mattress. flashing red and blue lights illuminated the bedroom ceiling. I ran to the window and peered down to the street. The police were here. Thank God, someone had called them. I released a long, shuddering breath. How long had it been since I breathed?
A few minutes rolled by. I could hear hushed voices from the hall by the front door all the while, but couldn’t make out what they were saying. The one officer that had been loitering by the patrol car rushed toward the house, and a moment later both officers dragged father back to the car in handcuffs. They stuffed him in the back as he resisted, the taller officer punching him in the back of the head as he went.
One of them called something in on the radio—the shorter one with a Starsky-and-Hutch moustache—and they both headed back toward the house.
I didn’t think anything of it until officer Gomez came up to our room, and told us that we’d have to stay there for a little while while he and officer Rickly called some of their friends.
We were ushered out of the house that night, and by that time there were lots more vehicles outside. The first-responder car and an ambulance, two more police cars, and a Channel 5 news van.
Becks and I never saw our mother again. Our grandmother didn’t let us go to the funeral. She told us it was too much for children to go through at our age, and that some things are for adults only. We stayed with our neighbour while our grandparents drove off in black.
Our father will never be released. He’ll die in prison. Becks and I agreed that even if he does get out, we’ll kill him. He’ll never be free.
And neither will we.
Like Quick Online Reads like this one? I publish one or two each week to give me a creative break from my longer works. You can check them out here: Quick Online Reads. Leave me a prompt or idea for the next one and I’ll add it to the list!