Nine Grasping Brother

Cold and white, flurries muffle the air like clouds of frigid dust. Hurry on, persistent child. Wind stings, raw, bitter, like father’s loving caress. Abstain, willful young man.

Brother throws his keys on the table just inside the door and shakes the snow from the shoulders of his jacket as he takes it off. He goes to the kitchen to find boy sitting at the table, drawing a picture by the dim afternoon light.

“How’s mom?” asks boy.

“It was a miscarriage,” answers brother.

Boy looks up at brother and narrows his eyes.

“You wouldn’t know, you weren’t there!” brother disclaims.

Boy goes back to his drawing.

“What are you making?” brother asks.

“Nothing,” boy answers.

Brother peers over boy’s shoulder to behold a well detailed account of the previous night. Father stands over shattered mother, his mouth agape, his fist raised. Brother cowers, twitching in the corner, his knees to his chin. Below the drawing boy has written, ‘Father’s Love‘.

Brother, snatching away the drawing, shreds it with his teeth before eating it.

For part ten, click here.

Eight Yielding Mother

Sun gleams golden through autumn’s glorious passing. Morning coffee steams promises of wakefulness. Wake up, thirsty mother. Love’s remembrance lays fast. Wake up, confounded woman.

Mother settles at the kitchen table and welcomes the joyful twitter of birds through the open window. She breathes the cool fresh air and raises her feet, crossing her ankles on the chair opposite. With a sigh she rests her right hand on her belly, her left lifts her cup to her lips. Sweet nectar of the Gods, mother loves her coffee.

Boy thunders down the stairs in his school uniform and stops dead, seeing mother’s pose. Brother, following, almost runs into him.

“Will he kill this one too?” boy asks mother.

Mother stares at boy, wordlessly, the day shines blindingly in her eyes. She hardly comprehends the first swing that sends boy crashing to her feet.

“You can’t say that!” brother yells, falling atop boy.

Mother, unable to conceive of how she can dissolve the dispute while preserving her unborn child, sips her coffee, noting that the birds have abandoned their song.

For part nine, click here.

Six Charming Brother

Time is of the essence now; the minutes tick by like days. Look back young boy. Father’s love ties clots in the throat, mother puddles to the floor. Look back young man!

Two weeks have passed since the last incident and brother bounds down the stairs to the kitchen. Mother kneels on the spotless floor pouring food into the new cat bowl, the animal hums at her side. She lovingly strokes the glossy black creature.

“Your brother comes home today,” mother says without looking up.

“I know. And father?”

“Not until tomorrow.”

Brother places his hands on his hips.

“Can we pick him up from the train station?” brother demands.

Mother looks up sharply, narrowing her eyes.

“Who will look after your brother?” mother accuses.

“He will come along,” brother smiles and swipes at his lips with the back of his hand.

“We’ll see,” says mother, turning her attention back to the cat.

Brother stares for a moment longer, at mother, at the cat. He races back to the privacy of his room.

For part seven, click here.

Five Denying Mother

A single shard of crystal twinkles red, a bloody star in the sunlight. Strip your eyes from this pretty corner. Home wraps its arms around like a cool gray blanket. You are the fulcrum.

Perspiration drips from mother’s brow and lands on her skirted knee as she scoops up the last of the broken glass from the kitchen floor. She wipes her forehead with the back of her wrist and turns to the small shadow in the doorway. Mother gazes up at her eldest child. Brother’s stance, in nothing but cotton boxers, belies his vulnerability. Mother thinks that at thirteen he is trivial for his age.

“Where is he?” asks her son.

“He went back to work,” answers mother.


Hospital,” mother yields.

As mother stands she picks up the cat’s food bowl. She makes a mental note to go to the pet store. With a heavy thunk! the bowl impacts the inside of the black plastic trash bin, the lid closes, the sun gleams from its surface.

Brother shields his eyes and runs to get dressed.

For part six, click here.

Four Dauntless Boy

Eyes sealed shut. Panic seizes, throat closes; gasp! Hush, little boy, don’t cry. Strange hand offers a warm squeeze of reassurance that you still are. Frantically scratch apart the crusted eyelashes. MOTHER!

Hush little boy…

The room is white, clean, sterile but for one miniscule element. Daylight streams through the window illuminating a thousand tiny dust particles that float carelessly, irreverent of the void where mother should be. In her stead is a doctor, occupying the spot on the shiny gray stone floor where the sun would otherwise lazily lay down her rays. Nothing in the scene reflects the unease that builds in boy’s chest.

“The patient was admitted last night with lacerations to the face, neck…”

Boy assumes the doctor is talking about him as he and the young, worry-eyed but healthy nurse are the only ones in the room besides a group of students in white coats carrying clipboards and looking eagerly at the droning doctor in charge.

“…and a crushed collarbone…”

Boy doesn’t know what a collarbone is, but the area below his throat shrieks in his ears of white hot pain

“…surgically extracted fragments of bone…”

compared to all the other little pinches he feels when he moves.

The nurse helps him to sit and offers him a straw with water at the other end in a blue plastic cup.

“Where’s my mom?” boy whispers to the nurse.

She smiles sadly and pats boy’s arm and he’s not sure if she heard his question. Then everyone is gone.

Boy’s eyes begin to leak great tears that splash upon his blue gown, darkening it like so many bruises. He wipes violently at his silliness and stares at the motes of dust until they vanish, the sun obliterated by the menacing shadow of a cloud.

For part five, click here.

Three Angry Brother

Fear: writhing serpentine ineffectiveness slithers from your pores. Go deep, angry child. Father’s affection stings like the buzzing of a hot summer hive. Mother is soft, weak, an open sore. Go deep, angry young man.

In the heat of the night brother arrives home. His fists ache, his legs, from miles in his shoes, tremble. Above the whine of cicadas brother hears a chunk! chunk! staccato as he reaches for the door. Apprehension tingles at the bridge of his nose.

“Ahhhh,” cries father.

Brother tiptoes around the house aware of each blade of grass he crushes underfoot.

“Ahhh, hu hu hu,” cries father.

Chunk! Chunk! Chunk! Relentless is the shovel as it lacerates the innocent ground. Brother hurries back to the door and steps inside. He senses the absence of life all around and the silence grips his throat.

The hairs rising from his scalp precede brother up the stairs to his room. He slips closed the lock. Under the covers he shivers to the faint chunk! chunk!, rhythm to father’s lament.

For part four, click here.

Two Dear Mother

Bless the little ones for they cannot be helped. Seen through his eyes there is love; love is pain. Mother comforts the fragile. Frozen quick as zero’s sudden chill, life shatters, close your eyes. Hide from the pool’s crimson darkness. Bleed for them; in ways you always have.

Father sits at the kitchen table, rays of sun inspiring rainbows from the crystal of his tumbler. He contemplates the dark liquid inside: it clashes with the stench of bleach from mother’s cloth. The stinking cat is rubbing against his leg.

“Where is that little shit now?” asks father.

“He is at a friend’s house,” replies mother.

Mother doesn’t look at father. She keeps her right profile from his sight knowing the bruise will enrage him. Mother hopes boy has indeed gone to his friend’s house.

A door opens as though on cue.

“Lying to me again,” says father under his breath.

Father turns to boy.

“Why can’t you do as your mother expects of you?” father bellows.

Father scoops up the cat and throws it at boy, knocking boy off his feet.

For part three, click here.

The Note, Part 3

I enjoy my nightly bath, okay? Sue me. I was determined on two accounts tonight though. First, I wouldn’t fall asleep in the tub, and second, if the phone rang I was going to answer it. I even had one of my remote phones in the bathroom right beside me. No problem, right?


I was in the tub for about two minutes when it started to ring. I dried my hand on the towel beside the bath and grabbed the phone. The “on” button wouldn’t work. So I jumped out of the tub, (there was no way I wasn’t answering the damned call. I wanted to know who was doing this to me) and ran to the bedroom to get the hardwired line.

I must have said, “hello” a dozen times. No one was at the other end. Just dead air. So I went back to my bath. This was stuck to the mirror:


Nothing on it this time. Just the date and time. One minute past the current time that was.

“Why the fuck are you doing this to me!”

If the neighbours heard me they must think I’m nutsoid. They know I’m always alone here.

I thought, Fuck it. I left the note there and sat back in the bath. When I looked up, the note was gone.
Part one of The Note is here: