It’s been a long time since I’ve written fiction. Life’s been getting in the way–you know how it is–and I’ve been doing a lot of other types of writing (blogging, articles) and lots of editing, so getting back in the saddle has been a little tough. But today, something happened at my day job that inspired this little piece of flash fiction. And so was born this rendering of a young girl’s point of view on family violence in…
The shouting echoes inside my chest; it rings inside empty space. But I am not empty. Inside lives a cold, shivering ache.
From my safe place under the bed, I watch as strangers throw dishes, glasses, books, and the TV remote to the floor. They scream. They threaten. They are oblivious. They are blind. They have become monsters who do not see chaos and destruction; they do not care about the shattered glass and plastic pieces strewn across the hardwood floor.
I used to know those people. Their once familiar faces are now feral, twisted. One used to read me stories at night and chase away the ghosts I swore were hiding in my closet. And the other used to leave me love notes on pink paper in my lunch box. The other kids teased me because of those notes and, to save face, I would make a snide comment, crumple them up and toss them in the trash. But secretly…deep down in the black hole in my chest…I needed what those frilly notes contained; I needed a splash of color to soothe the ache.
That usually ended once I arrived home. I eventually learned that pink splash was like whitewash; it only masked our family secrets, only candy-coated my pain.
The front door closes. It’s suddenly very quiet.
I know what’s coming. The cycle, once begun, must play itself out.
Glass crunches underfoot. Perfectly manicured toenails encased in pink slippers appear outside my hiding spot. She sniffles, then blows her nose. By the time she bends down, her face will once again be one I recognize and love with all my heart.
“Jessy? Come on out,” she adds when I don’t move. ‘It’s okay now. You know how it gets around here sometimes. But it’s all good now. I—”
“Promise,” I finish, whispering to myself.
My mother finally gets down on hands and knees to reach under the bed.
I watch the manicured hand creep towards me.
The same hand that had thrown down our family pictures, leaving shattered glass, shining like clear spikes, on the floor.
(c) 2019 Dyane Forde