Wednesday, June 28, 2006

3 Days Gone

A short story inspired by a F.A.T.T.Y. post. If you are having a happy go lucky Disney morning you may want to just skip it.


The sound of his keys entering the front door lock caused her stomach to tighten into bundles of knots. She knew it was her father because she had memorized the sound of his entry. She had also seen enough years to memorize the look of hate and rage etched across her mother’s face as she waited for him to appear.

Her brothers were gone. They knew the rage too well. She wanted to be gone too but she also hoped she could help it be different this time.

His large shoulder banged against the outside surface of the door, opening it wide enough for him to walk through. She could see his profile backlit by the porch light, but not his face or expression. The keys had fallen from the lock as the door opened and the metallic clanking of the keys hitting the floor was the only sound in the fear filled interior of the house. His large frame stumbled across the threshold, falling almost to a knee before he regained his balance and slammed the door shut with a stomach churning force.

She knew he was wearing his dark blue work shirt. She could see the familiar white patch with red embroidery reading “Gulf Refinery – Edward” standing out from the dark blue fabric. His heavy work boots made their way across the hard wooden floors in a halting manner, lightly banging against each side of the wall as he felt his way along the hallway to the bedroom. He had been gone 3 days.

From her spot in the small cramped living room she prayed for him to go to sleep, to fall across the bed in his blue work clothes and boots and just lie there quietly. "Please God", she prayed, with her fingers forming a steeple in front of her face.

She saw her mother rise to her feet and follow the drunken footsteps down the hall. “No mother, please God leave him alone and let him sleep”, she prayed. Palms now tight together and fingers intertwined, she prayed for the knot in her stomach to disappear and the fear to be left for another night.

The high pitched voice of her mother cascaded down the hall in a sickening crescendo of anger and rage. Her fathers voice, just as angry, bellowed back at her in the familiar drunken slurring that made her wonder why her father had to come home at all.

“Please God”, she prayed, “Please.”

The sounds of the thrown objects interrupted what she already knew was another useless prayer. She ran quickly down the hallway just as she had done so many times before hoping to get between the two of them. The naked light bulb above the bed highlighted the stark features of each parents’ face. The hard stucco walls of the room were spinning in front of her eyes as she assessed how best to help. Her father was standing no more than 4 feet from where her diminutive mother stood, but she was throwing any and everything she could find at his face and chest while she screamed in an incoherent rage about where he had been for the last 3 days.

She moved between them hoping to stop what her prayers could not. His large hands grabbed her by the shoulders and with no effort at all he slung her across the tiny bedroom to the base of the doorway where her nose crashed into the hard wooden jamb at the base of the door. Her head spun and her fear made her lie motionless while the war around her raged in fits of thrown objects and screamed obscenities. She felt the warm flow of blood at the base of her nose shortly before she began to taste it, but she didn’t move. She knew it had to be quiet before she moved again.

Her mother stormed down the hallway in screaming retreat. Her father fell across the bed onto his back, staring in a dead man’s trance at the light bulb above. She waited for the quiet. And she did not dare move.

When the quiet finally came, she pulled herself up from the base of the door and wiped the blood from her nose, spreading it across the sleeve of her pink cotton pajamas.

She knew her mother would be locked in the bathroom fearing the resurrection of the man in the blue work shirt. The man in the 3 day old alcohol saturated work shirt was snoring on his back, eyes closed, but still facing the naked light bulb. A hard stubble of black beard glistened under the harsh light. Sweat rolled off his forehead, down his cheek and dropped silently onto the bed as she stared at him.

She walked down the hall hoping to find some comfort in her bed. She knew how to clean up the blood and get her things ready for the school bus in the morning. She had learned to do lots of things.

After all, she was 7 years old. Tomorrow was her birthday and she would be 8. She hoped it was why her dad had come home.


samuru999 said...

Yeah, I probably should have skipped it. Sad, sad, sad! And what makes me saddest is that many
childern's lives are like this every day... day in and day out.
Now, I have to go back to my
blog and post something to get
over this sadness.
Very well written though.
You are an excellent writer Rick.

Seven said...

Sorry. This one is based on a true story of the life of someone I love very much. I read some of the comments of some people at Fatty's and could hear some adult selfishness ringing through the comments. So I had to write. I'm sure you understand as I can discern your gentle sensitivity through the posts you write..

samuru999 said...

of-coure I understand Rick.
I do understand why you had to
write this story.... now that I know the "whole story"
It must have been very hard to do.
I admire you for writing it.
Take care.

Angie said...

I've tried to comment several times but keep walking away to dry my tears. You did a very good job of capturing the feelings involved with growing up in this type of situation, Rick. I commend you for that. Some day I'll tell you all my story and,hopefully, let go of some of the pain. I can only hope that the little girl in your story has done the same.

patti_cake said...

Very very very sad. I'm guessing this was your Mother or your wife? It's hard to imagine and I thank God I never had to experience that. My heart goes out to that little girl and others like her.

Jenn said...

Very special post, Rick. I don't know who your subject is, but I hope she's ok now. My dad was like that - my mom kept us sheltered as much as she could and when she realized she couldn't protect us, she left him. I was 7 when she left. I remember things though...usually from the middle of the night..very loud and scary. He never hurt the children...physically anyway. But I remember my mom sobbing and sometimes we'd go for a ride in the car in just our jammies. I know now what she was doing but then she tried to make it an adventure.

Holy cats. Enough about me. I truly, truly hope the little girl in your story is healthy and strong now.

Seven said...

Stormy and Cakes,
There are still days all these years later that I will recognize the apprehension in my brown eyed girl's face and know she needs to be held in my arms and told everything is OK.
And it is; and it always will be.
But, these scars last a lifetime. If only the adults were wise like children, eh?
Hugs to you both.

Seven said...

See above comments and I am so glad that you have grown with the strength you have grown with. God bless that mom of yours.

Silent One said...

Sad subject... but wonderfully written...

This has brought back alot of memories... that I have already dealt with. But the memory never goes away. It was like reading a chapter out of my own diary.

I was never happier... the day the bastard died!

Anonymous said...

Rick, I almost avoided this post but could not. It is very moving, my instinct is to let it go with a light comment but my head and heart tells me otherwise.
Thank You for writing this, for putting in to words the things that many others cannot say.

Although my experiences were different as a child the feelings and fears were the same.
I just want to hug and protect this child and all others that live with those feelings, knowing firsthand the fear.

Seven said...

Silent One and Lady Dandelion,
Survivors like my brown eyed girl? Thank you for reading and your compliments. Hugs and completeness to you both.

Jenn said...

Oh. It's your wife. She's lucky to have you. I'm glad she's ok.

Sometimes things do turn out alright.

patti_cake said...

Rick did I ever tell you me & Madison are Stacy's brown-eyed girls too? Every time you call her that, it makes me smile. Your brown eyed girl is so lucky to have you... and vice versa. But you both already know that!

Ilias- said...

Very Moving. Thanks for the post.

Grant said...

Parents die.

I'm all in favor of every abused boy and girl learning how to kill their abusers. The world will be a better place without them. Failing that, the federal government should issue me an unrestricted license to kill. I promise to keep the entertainment kills to a minimum and will instead focus on eliminating bad people - abusers, rapists, slow drivers, lawyers, etc. Let me know when you have secured my application.

Lynilu said...

Powerful story.

I recently retired after 18 years of working with children like this and their parents. Some people didn't understand why or how I could work with such parents. Everyone wants to "rescue" the child(ren). I did it because I knew that the only way to make things change was to help parents learn something different. No, it didn't happen (the change) very often, but I had to try. Otherwise, no one can get better.

I hope your brown-eyed girl is well.

Anonymous said...

thankyou rick.
i am all too aware of the "adult selfishness" that comes through when talking about divorce. I obviously identify only as a child.

my father has never been violent, and never the drunk one, but i feel the intensity of this argument every time too.

i was reluctant to read it as i was not in a mood to concentrate this morning. Thank you for challenging me and sharing this. it was totally worth it.

Seven said...

i hear you. maybe not death for slow drivers though; just a turtle lane maybe?

We all applaud the effort you describe. Most of us anyway. It takes both campassion and iron will to do what you have done. God's Care.

No. Not challenging you in any way, but grateful to you for opening the subject. Like many questions in our society this one has multiple correct answers. If I could condense the issue however, I would mold and condense it around the irresponsibility of adults in all fashions and all ways, the children becoming the victims. And this is the picture I wanted to paint here. My adult sefishness comment concerned the commenters, not your post.
Peace and Good Thoughts