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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Dark · #1813151
A very short story about domestic abuse. It's not pleasant. It's not meant to be.
I tasted blood in my mouth.  It was tangy, like sucking on a penny, but salty too, because of all the snot.  And the tears.  Lots and lots of tears.  I told myself to stop crying and move faster.  If I could just get the whole room tidy before he got there, maybe he’d be alright.  Maybe he wouldn’t hit me again.  I shovelled books, games, toys under the bed, into the wall cupboard, into the battered and chipped wardrobe.  Comics got rammed into the empty drawer on the second-hand dresser.  Was that enough? Please, please, please let that be enough.

I don’t even know why.  Sunday’s God’s day isn’t it?  That’s what they told us in School.  Why were so many of our Sundays like this?  I’m not sure if it was something to do with his team losing.  Or if there was something wrong with the dinner mum carried into him while he sat on the sofa and smoked. Or was it something some man said in the pub?  I don’t remember. I didn’t understand.  All I remember is mum laughing that nervous will-he-won’t-he laugh, and trying to take his shoes off to help him fall asleep.  Then there were shouts, roars, screams and tears. Then the punches came.  The massive hands I saw shake with the priest this morning, before telling us he was going for a drink and he’d be home early.  Those same hands punching into my mum’s stomach and making her fall back against the folded up dining table we only put up at Christmas.

He never hit her in the face.  He never hit any of us in the face.  My sister and I started to cry.  I was angry because I was nearly a man soon. I should be brave, I should stop him, but I couldn’t.  He was just so big and scary and powerful.  And he was my dad.  He held me by the throat and screamed at me.  I don’t remember what he called me.  I just remember his spittle hitting me in the face and the stink of the beer and rum.  I knew it was rum because it was the same smell as the bottle in the cupboard he kept for Christmas.  He just kept shouting and then he threw me against the wall and told me to go to my room.  I looked at my mum lying on the floor.  She was crying so hard and holding my sister to her chest.  I ran, my feet barely touching the stairs as I escaped, abandoning them.

I heard him shouting more and then my sister screamed and I could hear a sound like hands clapping.  I knew it wasn’t clapping because my little sister was screaming even louder and I sat on the floor in my room and cried hard.  The tears were running down my face and mixing with the snot flowing freely from my noise.  I had to spit it out.  Then I realised there was blood from where I’d bitten my tongue when I hit the wall.  He never hit any of us in the face.

So I tidied my room, while my sister screamed and my mum begged him to stop.  Then it went quiet.  Just for a second and my breath caught in my chest.  Then I could hear my sister’s voice. I don’t know what she said, she was only little. But whatever it was, it was wrong.  He shouted even louder and my mum screamed and the door slammed and I heard loud footsteps on the stairs.  I could hear my mum crying downstairs and my sister screaming as he carried her up the stairs, muttering about teaching her to keep her mouth shut. 

The door to my sister’s room smashed open and rebounded off the wardrobe and then slammed shut.  He was talking quieter now, like the dull rumble of faraway thunder.  Then she shrieked and I heard the slap.  I knew that sound, it was leather on skin.  Oh God, he’d used the belt.  She was only six.

Then it stopped.  I held my breath and waited.

The door to my sister’s room opened and then slammed again.  I could hear her crying. I could hear him coming. Three steps, four, five and my door exploded open.  He came in breathing heavy, his belt hanging in his right hand.  He didn’t look like he even knew it was still there.  Now he was telling me it was my turn and he’d soon teach me respect, turn me into a man.  Then all I could see were those huge hands as they flew at me, they filled the whole world. He was punching me in the ribs, I couldn’t breathe.  It hurt so much.  I fell to the floor and he still didn’t stop.  I was screaming, begging, pleading and telling him I was sorry, but those hands just kept coming.  Then he remembered the belt.  He didn’t take the time to take my trousers down, just started lashing it down on my back.

Then it was over and he was gone and the house was silent.  Then he started to snore and we started to move.  I couldn’t help but think of next weekend.  His team were playing on Saturday instead of Sunday.  He said he might take me, I really hoped he would. 

The End

Well, almost.  Fifteen years later I went back to that house to visit my father.  I was over six feet tall, 190 pounds, and training five days a week.  I had a black belt in one martial art and was proficient in several others.  I suppose it’s no accident I had developed an obsession with self defence.  I never started a fight in my life and I seldom drink.  I have never hit a woman or a child; I would sooner cut off my own hand.  We are not always a product of our environment.  We can choose who we want to be.

The powerful monster of my youth was gone.  He was a withered old man, retired early through ill health, crippled with arthritis and terrified of being alone.  I know what I did then. What would you have done?

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