Danny hunched over his math book. The numbers swirled around in his head, refusing to remain still. He rubbed his temples and squeezed his eyes closed. He tried to remember the threes multiplication table. Everyone else in Mrs. Harrison’s class were already on the sevens table or above.
The sounds of his friends’ soccer game drifted in through the open window. I wish I could be out there with them. But wishing would do no good, especially with his report card sitting on the kitchen counter. The failing grade in mathematics was sure to get him in trouble. Mom understood, but Jonas would be angry, especially when he found out there would be a teacher’s conference involved. Jonas hated to be inconvenienced.
Danny stretched and watched his friends out the window. Old cinderblocks marked the goals on the straight stretch of road outside of Danny’s trailer. Ben lined up to kick a goal, when the entire group stopped and pulled the equipment off the road. A car pulled up in front of the house, blocking the playing field. Jonas got out of the car and sent the kids scattering with a look. Danny swallowed, and ducked from sight as Jonas walked toward the trailer.
Jonas’s voice boomed as he entered the house. Danny could tell by the tone that the big man was not happy. What would he do when he saw Danny’s report card? With quickening breath, Danny slunk to his door turned the lock.
“Where’s the boy?” Jonas yelled. Danny couldn’t hear his mother’s soft reply. No doubt she was trying to calm the giant. With shaky limbs, Danny slid under his bed and pressed himself against the wall. If only he could make himself invisible.
“He better be there.” Jonas said from right outside of the door. Danny curled his knees up to his chest.
The door knob turned only a fraction before the lock caught. Jonas swore and started banging on the door. “Open up, Danny.” At the menace in Jonas’s voice, Danny started sweating. Jonas only waited a moment before he started banging on the door. Danny could imagine the big fists hitting him with each blow.
The door rattled in its frame. Danny squeezed his eyes closed and covered his ears with his hands. He quietly rocked back and forth. He tried to think of something besides the pounding on his door. Danny remembered the Sunday School lesson he had heard last week when he rode the bus to church. The teacher said that God answered prayer, but would God listen to a boy like him? Please save me like you saved Daniel from the lions, he silently pled.
Danny eyes popped open and he stifled a gasp as the door smashed in. He could see Jonas’s big shoes. The man slammed around the room, throwing open the closet and overturning the desk.
“You said he was here.”
“He was doing his homework.” Danny could hear the tremor in his mother’s voice.
“He’s not here now, is he?” In two steps Jonas was across the room, and Danny watched in horror as his mother’s feet rose from the floor. The strangling sound left him no doubt what the big man was doing. The sickening sound of flesh smacking flesh turned Danny’s stomach. Danny’s mother fell to the floor. “Idiot woman. You’re the reason he’s failing in school. If you took better track of him, you wouldn’t have to visit that stupid teacher.” Jonas kicked her in the gut.
Oh God, save us. Danny watched helplessly as Jonas’s big hand picked up Danny’s mother by her shirt, hit her again, and flung her onto the bed.
“I’ll find the boy, and teach him a lesson.” Jonas swore before tromping out of the house.
Danny stayed where he was until he heard the crunch of Jonas’s tires on the asphalt. No doubt he was going to the bar. Danny shivered. Jonas was even meaner when drunk.
Mom was still curled up in a ball when he emerged from his hiding place. Her face was already starting to swell, and her nose was bleeding again. With delicate fingers Danny brushed her hair back from her face. She flinched at his touch. Danny sat down on the bed, and gently rubbed her back as he quietly told her about Daniel and the lions, and the God who answers prayer.
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