I had committed a cardinal sin. I had defied my father by breaking the stiff, unnatural silence generated by his guttural command. It was evident that my father was in a ferocious mood. He may have had a bad day at work, or my mother may have rejected his unrefined sexual advances. Whatever the reason or reasons, his inner demons were raging and they needed to be appeased.
The angry tread of his bare, callused feet on the floorboards of our small, three-room house alerted me to the threat of my father’s intentions. Before I could get to the front door, he was before me—a living mask of fury. Suddenly, my mother was between us, facing my father and trying to reason with him. He tried to shove her aside, but she resisted him temporarily. My father brought his right leg up without warning, and he thrust it violently past my mother’s left side. The next second, his hard, stevedore’s foot landed squarely in my gut.
The pain hardly registered as I saw the raging monster in our house push my mother aside. Primordial instinct took over. I leapt onto the tiny bed shared by one of my brothers and me, kicked at the latch that held our bedroom door shut and fled into the early night. Half fearing I would be followed I looked back once or twice as I ran, but my fears were unjustified.
I stopped running when I reached the open road, my heart still pounding and feeling a bit disorientated. As the adrenaline rush subsided, I sat on some concrete steps nearby to consider my pain and predicament. I was alone and unprotected in the night. I could not return home for fear of what might befall me there. The thought of approaching a neighbor or my sister—who lived nearby—for succor never occurred to me; spending the night in a home other than my own was not part of my upbringing.
Author’s note: The preceding is an excerpt from the story “The long night” from the novella, House of Tears. House of Tears is an anthology of stories telling the story of a Caribbean family scarred by poverty, internecine conflict, and dysfunctional relationships, and their journey to finding each other. The novella is now on sale on Amazon kindle.