The yelling stopped. Then I heard loud footsteps and the living room door slam shut.
I sat up in bed as the family car started up and quickly drove away. I stared at my candle as it flickeredspastically at its end. Suddenly darkness engulfed the room. I slowly lay back down and heard the faint sound of my mother crying. My heart sank and my body became numb. I felt powerless as I heard words through her tears.
“Why? Why God? Answer me dammit! Why?”
Yelling and crying was nearly a nightly occurrence through my youth. But I never heard her talk to herself before that night. Soon after I fell asleep I was awakened suddenly by my mother.
“Let’s go Joshua. Don’t ask any questions.”
God must have answered her that evening. We never went back home.
As a young kid, Marty and his mama spent weekend nights in rural southern bars listening to dad play with his band. As a teen he learned to play under countless hours of alcohol-induced instruction and degrading comments from his dad.
The family went through financial hardship. There was no playing catch in the back yard. No family nights huddled by the radio. Divorce left young Marty alone with his dad in a run down shack on the edge of town. Through it all, music bonded the two of them like chords and lyrics do a song.
Marty went on to become a successful musician. He played on stages around the world. It brought him financial stability. However, his greatest joy was playing alongside his dad in the smokey bars back home.
Her father laughed uncontrollably as he sipped his beer then gently placed the can on the arm of the chair. Jeanie didn’t dare look up at him from her spot under the cushions. With her eyes closed she prayed while pondering the laugh. Was it a laugh of anger coming from him? Or simply a playful laugh of a loving father? Jekyl and Hyde was the daily game she played her father.
He grabbed the beer can and chugged what was left then tossed it aside. She now understood the inevitable. Slowly she peered from behind the cushion and glanced up at the monster above.
The mother and young daughter reached the alley behind the restaurant. The girl stretched her arms toward the sun for warmth and noticed the beautiful dress hanging from the balcony.
“Mama, you tink we ever be able to buy me a dress like dat?” she said pointing upward.
“Naw! Don’t be silly child. You know we aint gonna be able to afford anything like dat. Dats for rich folks. Be happy for what you got. Now turn a’round and take dis from mama, ya hear me,” she said holding bread still in its plastic wrapper.
Molly turned away from the bright-colored dress with tears in her eyes. “Yes ma’am,” she said.
I went over the word limit. Just couldn’t cut anymore and make this work. Hopefully it does.
He stared at the pay phone. A relic from a time long ago. Now silent. A reminder of a call from a stranger. A female voice. Still as clear as the day he lifted the receiver from the pay phone and listened to her words. The voice hauntingly peaceful yet filled with trepidation. A one sided conversation about an unimportant life mixed with a tearful apology.
Why did he answer? Was it authentic? He searched the papers the day after. Nothing.
Sleepless nights followed. More self abuse. A new path of destruction. Now he lifts the phone. Will anyone answer?
I found him in the study…moving books around as if he was the head librarian.
“Father,” I said.
“Yes'” he said as he stepped out from behind the ladder.
My father was my guiding force through my youth though I never told him how I felt. Now, I can’t. He doesn’t know me. He doesn’t know anything but this library. It’s strange how disease can take a man’s family away from him yet he can read, understand and be intelligently vibrant. This library is his life now. His family he has long forgot. I take care of him. This is his study in my home.
This fiction was written for Friday Fictioneers. Visit and read the rules and join in the fun!
There is more to this..at least it feels like it. Sometimes…the story is not nearly complete but I hope that someone feels something from what is here. I didn’t want to change what was here just to keep it in the word limitation. I like what is here. I don’t know why. I just do.
Cleaning out his drawers I found numerous photos of women. Who were they? Does he know them? Are these pictures the reason he didn’t come home so many nights? I must dispose of them before mama sees them. I don’t know what her response would be but it’s a moot point. What a waste of a man. A father.
The town loved him. The big shots who frequent the bars worshiped him. He was a well-respected citizen in the community. His funeral services at the church Monday overflowed with people paying their final respects. His life was a facade. He lied to all of them too. But they didn’t live within these walls to know the real him.
This is where I grew up. The house, once holding victims of alcoholism, now the victim of age and the elements. Once an entanglement of chaos, violence and alcohol is now overrun with tangled vines and other plant life. The exterior splintered as if it can no longer hold the secrets that once were within its walls. Heartache and fear have burst through the siding like the screams years before. The home a tattered reminder that those closest to your heart never understood your suffering. The white picket fence, a symbol of an all American home to many, a symbol of imprisonment to me. A symbol of a family lost.
“Don’t let go” I yell. I reach frantically for a branch on the side of the raging river. The power of the moving water is strong as I reach desperately. So many thoughts running through my mind. How did the car end up in the river? Which friend is holding my leg? My parents will be devastated if I drown. It’s taking every ounce of strength in my six-foot frame to keep my balance. Between the person hanging on my leg and the force of moving water I am nearly drained of all hope. Just another inch! One last lunge.