We’re all in the living room when the fight starts. My father yells at my mother. She yells back.
I head to my room. I close the door and turn on my radio. Sitting at my desk, I’m not as scared. I get out my colored pencils and paper, and then draw a picture of a dog getting hit by a car.
I know this is a really bad fight because my mom’s screams become screeches. They sound worse than when Miss Miller uses a piece of chalk that’s too short and she scrapes her fingernail on the board. That just gives me chills. My mother’s sounds make my stomach hurt because I know what’s coming next…the worst part. The silence.
My baby brother sleeps through it. I wish he were older so I’d have someone to talk to when they fight. I wish he was older than me so he could tell me everything will be okay. Then we’d play Scrabble Junior and he’d let me win.
When I finish my drawing, I open my door. I don’t see either of my parents. My dad must have left for his meeting. I find my mom in the kitchen. She’s sitting there staring at nothing.
“Mom, I’m hungry. Can I have some milk?”
She doesn’t answer. She doesn’t do anything. It’s like I’m not there. I get my milk myself and take it back to my room. When I finish drinking, I get into my PJ’s – my pink and purple ones. They don’t make me feel any better.
Even though I’m a little worried about not putting the glass back in the kitchen sink, I get in bed. I snuggle in under the covers, but leave the light on so I can stare at my posters.
After a really long time, my mom stands at my doorway.
Although she’s not yelling anymore, I can tell she’s still angry.
“Libby, can I give you a kiss goodnight?”
I just keep staring at my posters. She stands there a minute more, then turns the light out and closes my door. I hear her crying as she undresses. The slam of her dresser drawer scares me but I get out of bed anyway and go to her doorway.
“Mom, I’m sorry.”
She stops crying but says nothing.
“Mom, please kiss me goodnight.”
She doesn't even look at me. I go back to bed.
Jeri Dube is president of a communications company and enjoys challenging her creativity. She has written short stories, produced a documentary film, and raised children. She and her husband are currently performers for Village Idiots Improv Comedy in Rochester, NY.