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The Last Straw
I sullenly stagger off the school bus and walk along the cracked concrete path leading to my prison of eight years and counting. The grass in our yard is as dead as it can be, showing off the baked soil beneath it. The door to the house isn’t the best. You can see the dents made by Papa when he pounded it after he came home drunk and my mama locked him out.
I fling open the door and slowly stagger on in, hanging my jacket up neatly in the closet. My mama’s in the kitchen preparing dinner nervously. She has a new bruise on her arm and her left eye is swollen, again. I mutter a quiet hello and leave quickly as if I wasn’t even there.
“Wait, Faye.” My mother says with her soft angelic voice.
I stop in my tracks and turn around cautiously. “Ye..Yeah Mama?” I say in a quiet hushed voice.
“Can we talk for a moment?” She puts down her kitchen knife below the sink with the rest of the knifes that she keeps away from Papa.
“Baby girl.” She says getting down to my level. “I need you to do something for me.” I stare up at her not saying a word. “If I ever vanish, vanish for a long time, I need you to get out of here.”
“But, but Mama, why would you vanish?” I ask noting the seriousness in her voice.
A tear drips down her face and she quickly wipes it away smearing her mascara. “I.. I don’t know why I would baby girl but if I do find a policeman or woman. T... Te... Tell them that.. that your mama is gone and your papa isn’t around. Tell them you need help.”
“Promise me baby girl. Promise me that you will.” She wipes back another tear.
“Okay Mama, I promise.”
“That’s my baby girl.” She scoops me up from the chair and sets me down on the kitchen floor. “Now run along to your room before your father comes home.”
I turn to walk to my room when I hear the familiar sound of the doorknob turning. “Run, baby girl!” My mama says pushing me from behind.
I’m too late. I hear the door squeaking open, the booming voice of my papa. “Chelsea! Where’s my supper!”
“Faye, sneak behind me and quickly race to your room before your papa sees you.” My mama whispers in my ear. “One second Roy, it’s almost done.” My mama says answering my papa.
“ALMOST isn’t good enough!” My heart pounds as I hear my papa approaching. I quickly hide behind my mama hoping Papa won’t see me.
“I know, I know and I’m so sorry. It’s just that I’ve had a ruff day today.” My mama finishes the very last details of Papa’s dinner and brings it to him. I still stand behind her, so far so good.
“I don’t care about your day! I just spent the whole day fishing and I would for once like to come home to a meal and not have to hear my dumb wife complain about her day! Wait, is that Faye?” My mother must have given him a look saying I don’t know know what your taking about because he got really fired up. “Don’t act like that Chelsea! I know I saw Faye behind you! I told you, I want her in bed when I get home so I don’t have to see that disgusting thing you call a child!” I let out a single tear. “Send her to BED!”
“Okay, okay. Go to bed Faye.” She says in a shaky voice. She doesn’t turn away from Papa. She won’t risk it.
I race to my bedroom. Feeling the eyes of my papa watch me as I leave. I feel another tear slip down my cheek as I run. I hope Papa didn’t see, he doesn’t allow crying.
I duck into my bedroom locking the door behind me as I always do. My bedroom is rundown and mostly empty except for my dresser and bed. The wallpaper has been chipped as long as I can remember. I watch out for the squeaky floor boards that I carefully marked with a black sharpie.
Right as I slip under my bed to hide, I hear the noise in the kitchen escalate. “Chelsea! I told you that girl is nothing but trouble!” Papa says sounding very upset at Mama. He’ll probably give her another beating.
“Roy, pl.. please. D.. don’t.” Mama says sounding really shaky.
“Chelsea, it will be easier if you would for once in your life just SHUT UP!”
A loud bang echos through the house and I hear something fall to the ground. The whole house is in complete silence. The silence is broken by Papa’s loud footsteps coming from the kitchen. He seems to being saying something but I can’t quite hear it.
I bravely edge out from under the bed and slowly walk toward the door, trying to hear Papa better. “Oh god what have I done. Gosh, now the police will be after me for sure! Maybe, maybe I can ditch the body at the lake then I’ll leave town and get another new identity.” Papa sounds nervous, REALLY nervous. “But, wait! What about the kid? Oh shoot! Man, this would never had happened if James didn’t talk me into robbing that bank!” He starts pacing nervously around the kitchen.
As Papa approaches my room, I run to take cover under my under my bed. What will Papa do to me? And who is this “James”? My head starts to spin. Papa’s footsteps get louder and louder as they approach, he pauses in front of my door and turns the knob ever so slowly creaking the door open. His work boots pound against the wood floor making me flinch each time. He stops right by my bed and I hear him breathing, he seems somewhat calm now, almost robot like. He pours some liquid onto my bed and keeps pouring it leaving a trail of it as he leaves.
Once the door is shut and I can no longer hear him, I decide I need to leave. I get up from under the bed which is now dripping with some smelly liquid. I grab a spare bag that I keep in my room when Mama and Papa get in fights an I feel like I should leave, and I carefully climb up onto the bed trying not to slip on the weird liquid. I open the old rusty window and climb through, landing on a soft bed of moss. I run toward the woods letting the adrenaline kick in. I still have no idea what has happened. I try to think about it but it just makes my head hurt.
I reach the old stump that marks the beginning of the woods when I hear a loud explosion coming from the house. I turn around to see the house aflame. I stare at the flame feeling somewhat soothed by the giant flame. Like all those memories and dreadful experiences have been lifted. I finally feel free for once in my eight years.