Y- Short Story
It was 8am on a Saturday morning and the entire house smelt of alcohol which ran through Papa’s breath from Friday evening. The smell was stronger than bleach and I hated it. I didn’t understand why he had to drink so much, but then I couldn’t understand as I was only 5 years old at the time.
“Mum!” I called out, rushing down the stairs. Before I had even turned my head around the banister again to see what had happened or if Stranger was there, my heart began to pound. My tanned knees looked as though they had been brushed with black shoe polish and my feet were covered in scabs from the night before. I was unable to run, but limped my way through the corridor as fast as I could. Printed blood marks soon appeared as I witnessed my mother laying on the floor in glass.
Papa owned properties within central London and therefore I would say that we were quite well off. He married my mother Ina at age 26 when his parents looked for a girl just as wealthy as their family. Mother was beautiful. She had light brown eyes and dark brunette hair which waved down just past her shoulders. It always smelt of fresh crunchy green apples and I would brush my face in it, tickling my nose anytime she held me tight.
After a few years of marriage, mother had my older sister Victoria and after 3 years, I was born. Things began to change as I turned 2 and life was not the same again. Although I had to call him Papa out of respect, I secretly named him ‘Stranger.’ He was never in the public eye, but affiliated with well-known people through his company Jaga Properties. That is why I think he got away with most of the things he did to me and my mother.
I remember on Friday morning after Papa’s two friends had left the house, he walked into the living room and turned into Stranger, pulling on my mother’s hair. As he took a bite into her shoulder, her silky grey blouse ripped and she let out a shriek. I sat on the stairs with my hands over my eyes listening to the sound of mother struggling. Lifting my head, I saw Stranger looking over at me with his hands still pulling on my mother and his chest on her back. I froze. My upper body was paralysed and I thought if I didn’t move, he would think I was just an illusion. A few seconds had passed, I slowly gathered my stance again and I flew into my room. The sound of footsteps approached. Stranger had punched the door open and stood watching me under my bed in silence. After praising my sister about her intelligence and beauty, he began to complain about me, his only son the heir to his thrown but a complete failure. I couldn’t understand why he thought I was a “failure” as I was still only young but that was the last thing on my mind. Stranger grabbed hold of my toes and pulled them as hard as he could until I was laying on his feet. He told me to bow down to him and kiss his shoes before he stomped at the back of my head. I felt completely dazed and fell to my side.
Evening had come and I was drawing under my bed. Mother must had snuck paper and colouring pencils during Papa’s absence. I could hear voices downstairs which grew louder but knew I was safer staying put where I was rather than seeing the situation downstairs. I hid the paper and pencils under small chest of draws by the bed before Papa found out, otherwise I knew mother would get a beating. The voices had stopped, but by the time I looked up to say thank you to God for protecting my mother today there was a smash of glass on the floor. “If you feed that child of yours today, you will regret it.” The thought of not getting fed had killed my stomach but I was happy that my mother was left untouched. I crawled into bed with my left hand whilst my right arm wrapped itself around my bone-y ribs. The whole night I whispered and chanted, “Food, food, bring me food. Give me some bread, please any old food.” It was useless. My chest pulled itself upwards and I sat like a doll looking at my feet. The last time my mother tried giving me food secretly, Stranger cut a slit on her stomach where I was born. The pain hurt me just as much as it hurt her and at that moment I knew Papa was dead to me.
I tugged on my weak legs to bring them forward so I could grab hold of my feet. Picking on them slowly, I chewed on my skin with my eyes shut tightly and gathered as much saliva as my body could generate to swallow. The reason to why I targeted my feet was because they would either be covered with socks or shoes and therefore Papa’s friends or work people wouldn’t suspect anything. Even if they did, they probably wouldn’t have the guts to speak up as Papa was so powerful.
On Saturday afternoon mother gave me a bath and dressed me in new clothing she had bought. Every time she was allowed with me she would whisper in my ear, “Nile, I will always love you,” with a few tears rolling down her cheeks. I never saw my sister as she was taken to a grammar school and anytime she was home, Papa would have her in his laps singing songs she had learnt. That day she was again dropped off to her school and I knew I wouldn’t see her for a month or two.
As soon as evening arrived, life wasn’t the same.
Stranger’s eyes were blood shot and I could even see the colour green around his pupils. I couldn’t guess the amount he drank, but I knew it wasn’t going to be a good night. “Nile!” he shouted. I stepped foot into the living room and waited as he poured in some whiskey. “Tonight you will stay in your room and if you come out, I will break your teeth one by one.” I knew he wouldn’t touch my teeth but I also knew it wasn’t an empty threat so I did as I was told. Struggling to lift my legs up one by one up the stairs, I reached my room leaving half the door open to let mother know I was there. I felt it was my duty to protect her and by leaving the door open, it gave me that confirmation. Once reaching my bed, I again lifted my feet up towards my face and chewed before going to sleep. At 2am I heard noises coming from the room a few doors down from mine. “Shut up you bitch!” shouted Stranger whilst mother cried “stop.” The door was then bashed open and I heard, “punch me again! Touch me again stupid woman!” I peeked up from the covers and peered through the gap in my door. Mother clasped her teary eyes with mine for a split second before being dragged by her hair down the stairs. I leaped from the bed and charged down the stairs on my tip-toes. Praying that mother was okay, I held the banister and turned my head to see what was happening in the kitchen. I saw Strangers whiskey glass smash on my mother’s hand and a piece of the glass being cut across her head. My eyes shut but the pain grew as I listened and scratched down the sides of my head until there was blood. The screaming and crying was too much to handle.
There was a loud thud and then silence. My head frantically moved up and my mouth dropped looking towards the front door.
“Mum!” I called out, rushing down the stairs. Before I had even turned my head around the banister again to see what had happened or if Stranger was there my heart began to pound. My tanned knees looked as though they had been brushed with black shoe polish and my feet were covered in scabs from the night before. I was unable to run, but limped my way through the corridor as fast as I could. Printed blood marks soon appeared as I witnessed my mother laying on the floor in glass.
“I’m sorry Nile, I love you,” she whispered.
My name is Nile. I am 50 years old with a paralysed memory. Dear God, if you can hear me tell my mother “I love you too.”
This is a fictional story inspired by real life stories
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H.O.P.E – Hold On Pain Ends