Was her shaking noticeable, or was it all on the inside? Emotions flooded through her entire body with each step, despair, worthlessness, hatred, anger. Some were not attached to conscious memories of events, but some were.
The waft of stale cigarettes flooded her senses as she walked through the door. Her bare shoulders tingled from the warmth of the beating sun as she crossed the threshold into the house. It was if she had entered a cave. The windows were covered with curtains and drapes so thick that there was not even a crack of sunlight from the cloudless day that could squeeze through. The only light came from the television, casting its blue shine on the sleeping bear. She heard the soft, rhythmic snore emanating from the beast and knew it would be best if she were to quietly head to her room where she could pull back the covering on her window and work on her homework while she waited for it to wake.
Taking a deep breath and holding it in, she gingerly stepped one foot in front of the other attempting to cross the living room as soundlessly as possible. A curse upon anyone who claimed it was karma. She didn’t deserve what happened. At the precise moment that she slowly stepped down with her left foot and heard the floorboards whine out a long winded creek, the picture on the television flashed to gunmen committing a horrendous crime. The shots blended with the creek reached an unfortunate noise level. The bear snorted as it awoke with a jerk. She froze, sending up a wish on her favorite star for escape. She continued to hold her one breath as she watched the beast focus on the television, knowing she would have to walk at high speeds to her room if it turned her way. Within seconds, it did. The head spun towards the door and spied her frozen on the floor.
“What the hell are you doing home?” The beast said in a forceful burst. It didn’t wait for an answer. “Why the hell are you standing like that. I swear you got your daddy’s brain, don’t know your ass from a hole on the wall.” A left hand fumbled on the table beside the chair, knocking down a half empty wine glass. The beast sat up straight and howled. “Shit!” Its head whipped to the small table and then back to her.
“Don’t just stand there like an idiot,” it ground out in a low, raspy voice. “Move! Go get a towel, quick.”
She dropped her backpack on the floor and ran towards the bathroom. Her little hands reached up to the rack behind the toilet grasping the first towel it reached. Short legs carried her back into the living room as quickly as they could. The beast had found her pack of cigarettes and was lighting one up as she fell to her knees and crawled a few extra spaces to better reach the spill. She had only just begun to read on her own in her first grade class, but she had learned to mop up spilled liquids much earlier. Her hands pressed into the carpet to soak the drink into the towel before flipping it and pressing it down again. The beast remained sitting upright without even moving a leg to give her more space on the floor.
It took a long drag, and a second later puffed out smoke. She closed her eyes trying not to breathe in too much of the stench. They wrenched back open when her senses warned her there was movement too close to her face. Her gaze barely registered the arm inches from her nose before it clasped onto the towel and jerked it out of her hands.
“What the hell?!” came the roar. “Why would your stupid ass use one of the good towels? You’ve just ruined it, you idiot! Can’t you see this is red? Why the hell would you use a white towel? Don’t you ever use your head?” She cringed back as it waved the towel angrily in front of her nose. “You think I’m made out of money, that I can just buy new towels every time you screw up? You’ve destroyed this one. You’ve ruined the entire set. I’m gonna have to throw the rest of them away as well, you stupid girl.”
She rubbed her right shoulder blade, her left index finger swirling circles around the scar. She felt the heat and the pain all over again as if the tip of cigarette had been pushed into her flesh just moments before.
To be continued…