Welcome to Spot Writers! The prompt for this month is to use at least three of the following words: tremble, start, tiptoe, yank, dresser.
This week’s contribution comes from Cathy MacKenzie, who used all five of the prompt words. Cathy writes poetry and dark fiction mainly aimed toward women. Watch for her next two books of short story compilations. Out very soon!
When I was small, before I started school, I’d sometimes tremble and shiver so horribly as if I were surrounded by sheets of ice. Those days I tiptoed around the house, pretending if Rob didn’t hear me, that he couldn’t see me either. Even if he were deaf, which he wasn’t, he still had eyes, so he saw me and, when he did, depending upon his mood, he might yank my arm and shove me out of the way. Once he did that, though, I was safe, and then I’d race off as fast as my little legs would take me.
Rob got drunk often. I don’t know how Mama put up with him. He didn’t treat her very well, either, but for some reason—perhaps because she didn’t want to be alone—she put up with him. I don’t remember how long he’d been in our lives. It seemed as if he’d been living with us forever. I don’t remember if Mama had a man before him, but I guess she must have ‘cause where would I have come from if she hadn’t?
Mama moaned about being alone, in the past and in the future. “I don’t want to be alone again, Carrie,” she had said, “so we have to put up with certain things in life.”
“But Mama,” I had replied, “he’s not nice to you.”
She had laughed, tousled my hair, and had said, “Don’t worry about me. I can take care of myself. If he ever touches you, though…”
I didn’t dare tell her he had touched me, hurt me. No, not sexually, although at five, would I have known what that meant and tattled? No doubt he would have threatened me and put such terrible fear in me that likely I would have kept mum. I didn’t want to ruin Mama’s life, which I was sure I would do, had I told how he threw me around.
One day, I happened to be in the kitchen when Rob entered. His walk was unsteady as if he was drunk. Mama was outside in the yard. He ignored me as he delved into the fridge for a beer. After a few swigs, though, he took notice of me. I felt cornered where I stood and had nowhere to go. While I cowered where I stood, he lunged toward me. Before I had a chance to move, he heard Mama’s voice outside and turned away. I seized my chance although there was nowhere to go. He blocked the only exit from the kitchen. Before I had a chance to think, I escaped behind the door under the kitchen sink. By grabbing hold of the towel hook, I pulled the door shut after me.
The scene played out in slow motion but happened within seconds. I opened that cupboard door without thinking. That evil look on his face was scarier than previous looks, and I knew I had to hide.
There was silence for what seemed like forever. I heard his feet shuffle and a gasp, then sensed him wondering where I had disappeared to. Perhaps, in his drunken stupor, he thought it a dream I had been there. Or maybe he knew I hid but was unsure where.
I heard him walk from the kitchen, but the next room was carpeted so I couldn’t tell if he had left. I sensed him lingering though. I’d have to stay hidden until I was positive I was safe.
I waited a long time and soon fell asleep. I awoke suddenly when Mama shrieked.
“What you doing in there, Carrie? Oh, my god.” She pulled me out and gathered me in her arms and kissed my cheek. “Sweetie, what’s wrong?”
“Carrie? She paused, then dawning registered on her face. “Rob? Were you hiding from Rob? Oh, my god,” she shrieked again. “What did he do to you?”
“Nothing, Mama. Nothing. I was just scared. He looked mean. I was afraid.”
“Oh, sweetie. I’m so sorry. He won’t be back. I promise.”
“Where is he?”
“I’ve had enough of him. You were right. He shouldn’t have been treating Mommy that way. He’s gone. He won’t be back, I promise. I have to clean out the dresser and the closet, but I’ll drop his stuff off at his friend’s place….” Mama jabbered on and on, more information than a preschooler needed to know, more than she wanted to tell me or should have told me, but I was smart and remembered most of it although, of course, not word for word.
Life was fine after that. Mama finally met a nice man, and we live happily ever after as if in a fairy tale. I’m ten now.
The Spot Writers—our members.
Catherine A. MacKenzie
www.kathylprice.com (Website in development)