I’m flying by the seat of my pants with this whole writing thing. Always trying to do fifteen things at once. Work, cook, clean, parent, write, craft and mold, market, sell books . . . it’s gets really tough to work in the time to write a piece of flash fiction that I feel has been edited well enough to post here on my blog.
So, today, in effort to change this pattern on no-blogging-until-it’s-perfect, I am going to free-write a piece of flash fiction that has been parked on my brain for some time now.
I’ve got no title for it, but here goes . . .
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My eyes are level with the tip of his boot.
I can see the black rubber sole, make it out with perfect detail from my place on the linoleum floor. There’s a brown slash running up on side and a deeper black circle like he stomped out a cigarette before storming into the house and over me.
“This is what I get,” I tell myself. This is what happens when you try.
I’m just going to lay here now. Trying time is over. I’m going to let him shake his fist and call me names, say things about me that aren’t true. Let him roll like thunder until he’s done.
I have to. I can’t change his mind.
So when he tells me that I don’t love him because I don’t have dinner waiting for him on the table the second he walked in the door–four and a half hours after he called and said he was on his way home–I won’t remind him that the food needed to be refrigerated. I fried fish for him. It’s his favorite. It’s best when it’s hot and crispy. I won’t explain to him how I waited for him to call, to tell me he was on his way before dropping it into the fryer so it would be fresh and perfect for him when he got here. I won’t tell him how the fish got cold and mushy as we both waited for him, worried that he may have gotten into an accident.
As he rages on about how I’m getting fat and how he’s starving to death, I won’t tell him his plate is in waiting for him and how easy it would be for me to pop it in the microwave. Because he’ll say I’m too lazy to cook and smash the plate on the floor. Or my head. Right now, he could hit both targets without any effort.
No, I won’t say a word. He’ll just have to find the saran wrap covered plate in the refrigerator
No. I’ll just lie here, staring at the tip of his worn leather work boot and drop my hands. Because I can’t try anymore. Not tonight. It’s too much.
Tomorrow, I know he will be sorry. Tomorrow he will love me again. He’ll bring me flowers and tell me it won’t happen ever again. He’ll kiss my bruises and I will let him.
“Why?” I ask myself.
“Because that’s what I always do.” My inner voice answers.
It’s what my mother and grandmother did. I watched them both go through it for years. Still, I don’t know how I’m supposed to keep going. Where I’m supposed to find the strength. How will I keep living in fear of his mood swings? I have for the past 5 years, 3 months and 11 days.
5 years, 3 months and 12 days ago, my world began shrinking and I didn’t even notice. I thought it was cute that he wanted to know where I was at all times. I liked that he threw fists at other boys when they looked at me.
Soon enough, his direction changed, shifted to me. Somewhere along the line, this all became my fault. And I’ll be honest, I had done things to provoke him. I knew I had to stop, to change my ways because I loved him and that is what you do when you love someone. You change for them.
First, I quit running track because he didn’t like my teammates. Then, school. My senior year, half-way through, it was over. I had to take my GED because teachers kept asking why my grades were slipping. My friends thought I was suddenly forgetful and clumsy, but not my counselor. She’d look at me funny, asking why I was wearing sweats and long sleeves when it was ninety degrees out.
5 years, 3 months and 12 days ago, I could count on one hand the number of times I’d been hit. Three. My daddy always took out my punishments on my mother. Once, I tried to stop him. He hit me three times all along my back. The pain . . . oh, God, the pain of those 3 strokes. I never got between them again.
Here on the kitchen floor, in the house he gave me, in the clothes he bought me, under the roof he shored for me, I realize that this, right now, this is my whole world. Him and these boots. There is no one to step in for me, either.
And that’s fine, because I wouldn’t wish this on anybody else.
Finally, his boots turns away. Footsteps in retreat echo and cut off as he leaves the kitchen for the living room.
I have to move slow. Feel for the aches as I get up off the floor. I mean to start cleaning, but I need to sit down first. Rest a minute.
Both of my cheeks feel hot and too large. One of my hands comes away streaked with red. My nose is bleeding. My other hand holds blue blotches in the same pattern of his boot tread.
That’s when I hear the banging at the front door and a string of curses. Red and blue lights are flashing through the sheer curtains of the front window.
All I can do is sit and watch. The relief that courses through me when I see that dark uniform busting through my front door and taking him away–
Someone heard me? Someone stepped in for me?