Broken Silence

Momma?” he said to her, softly. “Are you sad? Why are you crying?

She looked upward at him slowly, knowing he wouldn’t understand.

I’m not sad, I’m happy. I’m crying, because I’m happy.

———————————————————————

He opened his eyes – startled. No matter where his eyes wandered, blackness surrounded him. His sister, a year older, lay in her bed next to his, eyes open and ears listening. Jaime knew she was awake, he could tell by the sound of her heavy breathing and the way her fingers scraped the fabric along the bed sheets. Jaime sat up on the edge of his bed.

“Go to sleep, idiot!” Karen said.

“They’re fighting.”

“When aren’t they? Just ignore them, they’ll give up soon enough.”

Jaime sat there for a long time, staring into the dark, then complied and laid back down. Neither one of them said another word.

Jaime was five years old, and didn’t have a single ounce of mean in him. He was a sensitive little boy, who enjoyed wrestling and playing with his friends in the courtyard.

Karen, however, was the entire opposite. She was hateful and angry most of the time, something that Jaime couldn’t make sense of. She had no reason to be, she had everything a little girl like her could want. Against the wall in their bedroom, was a huge wooden shelf, lined up and crammed with dolls their parents gave her. More from her father, she was his favorite, it’s not something Jaime blindly assumed, he heard it from him a million times.

Outside their bedroom, in the kitchen, their parents yelled at one another. Her husband, Paul, had just arrived half an hour earlier. It was well past twelve in the dawn. He was intoxicated again, staying out all night with his brother, hanging out at bars and womanizing. He smelled of beer and woman’s cheap perfume. He came in demanding Mary to fix him something to eat.

“When are you going to grow up, Paul?” She said to him, exhausted.

“Don’t start with me Mary,” he said, annoyed at what he knew was coming. “Just fix me a hot plate will ya!”

“No. No more!” She took a pace towards him, and looked him in his half drunken eyes. “You’re a grown man, Paul. You have two children in that bedroom that hardly see you, and when they do, this is what they see.”

Her eyes watered at the borders of her eyelids. She simply wanted him to finally get it, to understand what he was doing was damaging them. Damaging her.

“For Christ sake, Mary, stop with the theatrics!” He gave her his back, and headed for their sleeping room. “When the plate is ready, bring it to me.”

She’d had enough. Ordinarily, she would let him go, she had no interest in arguing with someone as stubborn as him when he was intoxicated. Only that night, she had enough. She walked up behind him, pulling his arm gently, turning him to her.

“You destroyed me!” Her tone was stern, like a woman who no longer had anything to lose. “I was happy before you came along, before you arrived with your lies and your bullshit dreams for us! Everyone was right, they told me you were no good. But I had to listen to this stupid heart! Don’t you understand yet? Don’t you realize what you’re doing to me?”

“Let go of my arm,” he said, exasperated.

“Or what? You’re going to hit me again?”

“Mary, let go.”

“You coward! You still can’t look me in the -”

The back of his hand landed hard on the side of her face, she fell backwards, landing on her side. There was a silence in the apartment in that second, even the walls ceased to settle.

“You realize what you’ve done, you stupid woman!” He clinched his fists, and banged them against his temples.

Mary went numb, emotionless. Her eyes looked forward, but she discovered nothing. She felt the bite of the blow, yet felt no pain. She broke down completely.

“Get out,” she said, sedately. “Get out, and don’t come back.”

“Don’t even start that with me,” he replied immediately. “You know I’m not going anywhere.”

“Get out. Get out, or god help me, I’ll throw you out myself.” She stood, gazing at him with eyes that could kill.

They looked at each other for a long moment, then Paul turned to the sleeping room, hoping the altercation would end there.

“I mean it you son of a bitch, GET OUT!”

She walked towards him, grabbing the back of his shirt, pulling on it as hard as she could. She drew away, dragging him towards the door, leading to the outside. He turned, took hold of her arm, digging his fingers deep into her skin.

“Stop it!” He rocked her hard. “Don’t make me do something stupid Mary, let me go to bed!”

Her tears burst out, streaming down her face as she lunged at him, screaming and clawing at him. He tried to constrain her, but she was determined to get him out. She raked the side of his face, grabbing him by the hair with her other hand, pulling his head down.

In a paroxysm of rage, Paul pushed her hard, that no matter what grip she had on him, broke off, and sent her slamming against the door behind her.

“Is this what you want?” He towered over her, pinning her down, with his knees over her arms. “Is this what you want!” He slapped her repeatedly, she hollered and kicked, but was no match for him.

Jaime and Karen were at the threshold of their bedroom door, Jaime burst out a loud cry, his tears had no end. Even Karen, who was colder to such emotions, sat herself down and sobbed.

The loud commotion of it whole, began waking the neighbors. Silhouettes of human bodies appeared through the closed drapes.

A pair of tiny arms wrapped around Paul’s neck, the boy’s legs wrapping around his waistline. He pulled his father back with all his might, unable to dislodge him from his battered mother. After a while, Paul’s rage gave way to the notion of his son’s arms tugging on him. Instantly, he released Mary, turning his attention to Jaime.

Jaime jumped off, withdrawing a few steps back. He stood in a fighters stance, his tiny fists balled up tight, knuckles white at the peaks.

“Son,” Paul said to him. “No, son no, come here. I’m sorry.” He reaches out for him slowly.

When I grow up,” Jaime said. “I’m going to break your legs!

If Paul never felt regret, if he never felt shame and disgust in himself, that night he felt the full outcome of them. He sank to his knees, slumped over, weeping for the thing he had caused.

Karen held her mother, she trembled from the shock. Mary held her close, her cries, painfully reaching every person who heard it all outside. The night broke its silence, it did not allow rest for the weary, no serenity, only sorrow.

There was a sharp knock at the door. “Oak View Police Department, open up!” A police officer stood on the other side of the doorway. “This is the Oak View Police Department, open the door, or I will kick it in!”

Karen got up and opened the door, the Officer stepped in, gun drawn in his hands. His partner, a woman officer followed behind. The setting was just as it was, the boy still stood in a defensive stance, Paul on his knees. Mary was against the wall, weeping and holding her aching jaw. The policeman pointed to the ground, gesturing to Paul to get on his stomach.

“Get on your stomach, right now!” He reached for his cuffs, tucked away in its sack. Paul did exactly as he was told.

The woman officer, comforted the children, embracing them and trying to remove their minds off of what had just occurred. Mary sat there, looking at them, but not perceiving. Medics were now in the apartment, grabbing at her, trying to draw her attention. Only she just stared blindly, numbly. The night’s event ended just as it had started – silent.

———————————————————————

In the morning, Jaime walked out of his bedroom, and stood looking out over the mess that was made in the living room. The violence of dawn lingered in the air, it made itself known in the objects scattered around the floor. He turned and headed to his moms bedroom, opening the doorway slowly. Mary was seated on the edge of the bed, hands together, on her lap. Her eyes were puffy from crying all night, even then, the tears found their way out.

Momma?” he said to her, softly. “Are you sad? Why are you crying?

She looked upward at him slowly, knowing he wouldn’t understand.

I’m not sad, I’m happy. I’m crying, because I’m happy.

24 thoughts on “Broken Silence

  1. Bobby, another great story. I am enjoying reading your work. Very deep, great description, wonderful storyline. I hate when it ends. Looking forward to your next post. Jordis

    1. Jordan, thank you so much! I’ve struggled so long being self conscious of letting others read my stories, but people like you make me see how wrong I was! I’m glad you are enjoying them, makes all the effort I put into them worth it!

    1. Thank you so much Epil Eliza! It brings me so much satisfaction to know people enjoy them! Definitely makes me want to continue to get better at it! Thank you!

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