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Rated: GC · Short Story · Horror/Scary · #1163574
the darker side of family life
          Colin examined his average twelve-year old body in the mirror making sure that there were no marks on it from when he got beat up a little bit ago. He didn’t want to have to explain how they got there and how often it happened when father got home. After satisfying himself that there were no marks, he put his shirt back on and went to start on his homework.

          As Colin made his way through the house to the study, he wondered to himself why did this have to happen to him? Why did he have to get beat up almost every day? Why was he always being called names? What did he do that was so wrong?

          The study was a large room with books lining three of the walls and CDs on the fourth. On the wall with the CDs was a stereo system, there were six speakers of varying sizes throughout the room. There were also two desks facing each other in the middle of the room. One was larger than the other with a computer on it. One of the desks was for Colin, and the other was for his father.

         Colin went over to the wall with the music and picked a CD of a Hawaiian singer that he found relaxing. After getting the CD started, he went over to his desk and sat down to do his homework. His father would be home in about two hours, and he hoped to have it all done when he got there.

         When Colin’s father got home from the restaurant he came into the study and asked if Colin had much homework.

          “Naw I’ll be done in about ten minutes.”

         “That’s good. Let me take a quick shower then we will go over it.”

          “Okay,” Colin said, then as his father was about to leave the room, “Hey, do think we could play a game after we go over my homework?”

         “That shouldn’t be a problem. Is your mother watching tv?”

         Colin nodded his head and his father left the room. A minute later he could hear the bass of his father's voice through the wall. And a couple of minutes after that he heard the shower start. Colin got back to his homework, looking forward to playing a game with his father.

          Colin finished his homework just as his father came back into the room. His father checked over the homework, and then went over the few mistakes that he had found while helping Colin find the correct answers.

          When they were finished with the homework, they each reached into a drawar and pulled out a deck of magic cards. Colin’s father had taught Colin how to play Magic the Gathering at a young age. Colin had first learned with his father's old decks until he had gotten good at the strategies and card combinations. When his father had seen that Colin enjoyed playing the game and wasn’t going to give it up, he started buying him his own cards. His father also updated the cards that he already had since it had been many years since he had played the game.

          At first Colin and his father would build the decks that Colin used together, then as Colin got the hang of it he would build the deck and have his father look it over to see if he thought it would be a good one. Now he was building his own decks and surprising his father every few days with a new one.

          They played five games, Colin’s father just winning the last game of the little tournament with only two points left. He knew that soon his son would be better than he was at the game.

          As was their habit after playing Magic, they went into the kitchen and started cooking dinner. Tonight they were having meatloaf.As Colin opened the cans and started cooking the green beans, his father chopped the onions and garlic for the meatloaf. Colin mixed the meat with his hands as his father added the spices, onions, and garlic. He then took the mixture out of the bowl and formed it into the baking dish.

          As the dinner was cooking, Colin’s father gave him some math problems to help Colin get ready for his test the next day.

          Forty-five minutes later the dinner was ready. Colin fixed a plate and took it into the living room for his mother. When he came back into the kitchen, his father had put each of their plates on the table. As they ate, they discussed the day’s events for each of them. Colin talked about a book they were reading in school, and what he was now studying in history class. His father talked about something funny that had happened at work. This was also a habit of theirs, other than homework they would not talk about their day until they were at the dinner table.

          When they were finished eating, Colin went into the other room to retrieve his mother’s plate then the two men went about cleaning up the kitchen. When the work was done, Colin went up to take a bath.

          After bathing the family sat in the livingroom and watched a movie until it was time for bed.

          That night Colin had the first of his nightmares. He dreamed that he was standing in front of the mirror checking that there had been no marks left on his body from the day's bullying. When he was finished, he looked at the reflection of his face, something that he never did. He slowly examined his features until he got to his eyes, noticing that the normally green eyes were now black. He looked closer and saw that it looked like there were shadows swirling in the depths of them. As he watched his eyes, he saw that the shadows were beginning to leak out of the corners, and woke up with a silent scream on his lips.

          Colin was thankful that his voice had seized when he awoke from the dream knowing that if mother had been the one to check on him his nightmare would have been nothing to what would have happened for disturbing her sleep.

                   }          *****

          The next day as Colin left school he looked at the line of cars waiting, hoping that he would see his father’s car, he didn’t. Mother was the one waiting in line to pick him up today. He got in the car not looking at his mother. If he looked at her without being asked to any punishment he received would be worse.

         As they pulled out to go home mother asked him how he did on his math test.

          “I got a B on it, I ran out of time and couldn’t finish it.”

         “A B, you got a B! That is not acceptable. When we get home, you know what you have to do.” His mother screeched at him, then spent the rest of the drive muttering just loud enough for Colin to hear, about what a worthless child he was, and how he would never amount to anything.

          As soon as the car was stopped in the driveway Colin got out and unlocked the front door of the house, he then went straight to his room and waited to hear the sound of mother's shoes clomping up the stairs. When he heard the door of his parents' room shut he removed all of his clothes and wrapped himself with a blanket. Mother let him use the blanket not to soften the blows, but to help ensure that no marks would be left. After he was wrapped in the blanket he stood in the middle of his room looking at the floor in front of the door as he had been instructed to do.

          The door opened and he saw the hem of mother's dress, then the thick black belt with metal studs on it.

          “You know what will happen if I see you cry, right?” mother demanded.

          Colin nodded remembering the pink dress with lots of flowers and lace on it. Mother had promised that if she ever saw him crying she would make him wear it outside for acting like a little girl, because only little girls cried, and little girls wore pretty pink dresses.

          Colin turned around so that he was facing his bed, keeping his eyes on the floor, waiting for the first blow to land. This was a game for mother. She would sometimes wait as long as two minutes before the first one, knowing that the anticipation was as Punishing as the belt could be.

          Colin waited knowing that mother was trying to make him nervous until the first blow came. It wasn’t like mother lost control, it was more like there was never any control to be had. The blows would land on his back, arms, legs, and sometimes the belt would snap around to hit him in the chest. But the whole time Colin would keep a mantra of don’t cry, whatever you do don’t cry, going through his mind.

          Finally the beating ended, and when mother left the room Colin collapsed onto the floor, catching his breath and listening for mother to go down stairs and turn on the television. Don’t worry father will be here soon then the day will get better, Colin thought to himself.

          Colin knew that the beating wasn’t because he got a B on his math test, even if he had aced it mother would have found a reason to punish him. It happened every day, and had been for the last year.

          After Colin heard mother go down the stairs he picked himself up off the floor and went to examine himself in the mirror before getting dressed. This was another part of his daily ritual after returning home from school. Colin checked to make sure no marks had been left, then got dressed and went to do his homework.

          When Colin’s father got home, they went through their nightly ritual of checking the homework, playing the game, cooking dinner, then a movie. When Colin told his father about getting a B on his test, his father told him how great that was and he knew that Colin would do well on it.

          That night Colin had the dream again only this time when the shadows started escaping from his eyes, it also came out of his ears, nose, and mouth. When Colin woke up he was wiping at his face as if something was on it and panting.

          The next few weeks went as they always did, school, home, punishment, homework, and father time. The only adjustment in the routine was that Colin started praying, hoping that God would end the punishments. Colin's nightmares got a little worse every night, and mother got a little meaner every day, reasons were still given for the punishment whether they made since or not.

         Then one day Colin left school, got into mother’s car, and they rode home without a word. When Colin was about to leave the car to unlock the door and go into the house, he was told to go to his room and wait for punishment, no reason was given.

          Colin went to his room and listened for mother to pass, when he heard the footsteps he undressed, wrapped up in the blanket, and waited. He stood in the middle of the room looking at the floor in front of the door, when it opened and he saw the hem of the dress he turned and faced the bed.

         “Take off the blanket. You won’t need it.”

          Colin paused, about to turn around to see if maybe he wasn’t going to be punished today when mother screamed at him.

         “Take it off now, for fucks sake!”

         Colin allowed the blanket to fall to the floor. As soon as his back was bare, the belt with the metal studs was meeting his skin. The beating lasted much longer than usual and long before it was finished Colin could feel blood running down his back, arms, legs, and chest.

          By the time it was finished mother was panting from the exertion. “We don’t need to worry about marks any more.” Mother said softly, “your father won’t be back.”

          The door closed, and Colin collapsed to the floor. “Please God, make this stop before I am killed.” He prayed. After about thirty minutes he was able to pick himself off the floor. He went into the bathroom across the hall and cleaned himself. He then went back to his room got dressed, and prayed one more time. “Please help me to live.”

         Colin then went down the stairs intending to tell mother to just kill him and not let him suffer anymore. He went into the living room where mother was watching television, he was just opening his mouth when mother bellowed at him, “What are you doing in here? I don’t remember allowing you to leave your room. I didn’t say you could clean yourself up. I didn’t give you permission to get dressed.”

         Mother started to rise from the couch when Colin felt all of the rage that he had unknowingly repressed over the last year begin to surge through his body. He felt the release as his vision darkened, he felt as though every cut that he had just suffered were being cleansed from the inside. Then he saw the shadow that had been the cause of his nightmares leave his body through any opening, whether natural or inflicted.

          The shadow surged toward mother, wrapping and silencing with the darkness, until Colin could only see a black shape slowly falling to the ground. Slowly the shadow left leaving only mother with a frozen look of terror.

          Colin then looked at the urn that was on a shelf above the t.v. “I’m sorry mommy, I didn’t mean for it to happen.” He then left the room making sure that there was a lot of room between himself and the body of his father. As Colin dialed the police, he wondered what they would think of the man in a dress and wig from before his mommy died of cancer.
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