He turned the music up louder, trying to drown out the painful sobs of his mother. Trying to drown out the sickening thud that reverberated through his skull with every punch. Trying to drown out his father’s drunken voice, roaring slurred cusswords. He sat huddled on his bed. Dreading the end of the song. Hating that brief period when his headphones went silent and he could hear the sounds of his mother being beaten.
It was years ago but the memory still wouldn’t leave him alone. It plagued him, filled his life. Crushing him under the pain and fear that still raged on the inside. He still being haunted by the loss of everything he had loved. Haunted by the loss of everything he had never loved enough. He closed his eyes, crying bitterly as he let the music carry him away. Back to the worst day of his life.
He squeezed his eyes shut as the track ended, enduring the awful sounds disrupting the silence that he longed for.
“I’ll teach you to disrespect me, bitch!”
His father’s angry roar shook the house. The blood pounded in his head. Crashing and pulsing painfully, increasing with every sound. Every thought. Every second. He hated himself for being so weak. He wanted so badly to stand up for his mother. The only thing holding him back was fear.
He hated himself for being so scared of one man. He hated himself for allowing the woman who had given him life, raised him, protected him, to suffer rather than himself. He pounded his head against the wall, needing to feel something other than guilt and self-hate. His headphones slid off of his ears, exposing him once again to the horrifying reality that was his life.
Dazed, he slumped against the wall, blood trickling slowly down his forehead. He wiped it off angrily. His mother’s cries echoed in his head. Almost of its own free will, his hand slid under his pillow, feeling his fingers slip over the now familiar grip. He squeezed it, knuckles turning white. He breathed deep, waging a war deep inside. He wanted to, he needed to; the blows were getting louder, heavier. Her screams had quieted to whimpers.
His headphones slid off completely as he stood up. Before he had time to question his choice, he bolted from the room, his right arm dragging behind him. He stopped dead as he emerged into the kitchen. There was blood, everywhere. So much blood. Tears streamed down his face. There was no way someone could lose that much blood and still be alive. He screamed, roaring his anger, venting his pain into the thick, copper-smelling air.
He crumpled to the floor as he took in the scene: His mother, curled on the floor, covered in cuts and gashes. Her arms, her chest, her throat. The knife, the same one his mother had used to peel potatoes for a meal that would never be eaten, buried in her stomach. The blood, tainting every surface, covering the floor, smeared on the wall. His father, standing over her body, covered in the crimson liquid, disbelief and anger etched in every inch of his being. The boy tightened his palm around the grip as it threatened to slip from his hand. The molded rubber was the only thing keeping him sane, as everything tried to overwhelm him.
Trembling, shaking with rage, he raised his hand. Three words were all he said, “Should’ve been me.” He closed his eyes and pulled the trigger. He felt the kick of the gun, hearing his father’s choked cry of pain as the bullet entered his chest. Fresh tears rolling down his face, he dropped the gun and scrambled across the floor to where his mother lay, lifeless. The last thing he remembered about that night was pressing his forehead to her’s as his tears leaving streaks in the blood tainting her beautiful face.
A slim hand on his shoulder brought him back from his reverie. He cracked open his eyes, a smile struggling to form despite the pain as her beautiful face filled his vision. She was the reason he was still alive. The reason he had found the strength to keep on.
“You need to go to bed.” His wife said, a concerned look on her face.
He grabbed her hand, feeling the immense sense of rightness that came with the feel of his skin on hers. He smiled at her, the sadness fading to a dull throb. He pulled himself to his feet, putting his arm around her. No matter what, as long as he had her in his life, everything would turn out fine. He looked into her eyes, needing her to understand how much she meant to him, how much she would always mean to him. “Yeah,” he said quietly. “You’re right.”