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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Light and Dark (05/21/09)

TITLE: His Mother's Light
By Laurie Haag


“Hurry up. Get in the car.” Wilber Burrows growled at his fourteen year old son. “I don’t have all night.”

Jake did what he was told. He knew better to argue with his father, especially after the man had been drinking.

He watched the man carefully as he thrust his key into the ignition, and without checking a single mirror peeled backward out of Julie Murphy’s parents’ driveway.

Jake had been dating Julie for the last three months, and he thought to night was the night. Her parents were out of town, or at least he thought they were. That was before her six foot three, two hundred and forty pound father came barreling up the stairs a rifle in his hand.

The moment the door flew open and the light snapped on he knew he’d been setup.

Julie’s parents were insufferably strict always preaching about waiting until marriage and ‘proper dating behavior.’ He couldn’t believe she bought any of that crap. They were so old school.

“I told you Julie, I told you.” Her father had bellowed towering over him; Jake and Julie still lying on her floral comforter.

He hadn’t even gotten to second base before the old man barged in. What a waste of a Saturday night.

“All this bum thinks about are his own needs. He doesn’t care about you. If he did he’d respect your boundaries, our boundaries.” Her father had roared.

Julie had just sat there biting her lip, quivering like a wet duck. She didn’t stand up for him; she didn’t defend him to her old man. They were in a relationship. It wasn’t like she was some one night stand. He was serious about her, might even love her some day.

Once his father arrived things just went from unbearable to worse. His father was irate about being pulled away from his poker game. And now Jake was sure he’d pay for it.

They were just pulling onto Brad Street when Wilber turned to his son, rage spewing from his blood shot eyes.

“Listen Dad, I’m—I’m really s—sorry.” He stuttered.

Without even batting an eyelash his father backhanded him across the side of the face.

Jake’s head slammed into the headrest, his jaw vibrating from the force of the blow. Tears leaked from the outside corners of his eyes. He quickly turned his head toward the window. He knew better than to let the old man see him cry. When Jake had been twelve, he’d sliced open his knee trying to skateboard over gravel. His father had beaten him twice, once for the doctor bill and once for crying.

“Get out.” Wilber pulled up to the curb in a residential neighborhood nearly six miles from the small apartment where they lived.

Jake looked at his father. He was tempted to say something, but there was rage boiling beneath those cobalt eyes. “Yes, Sir.” He mumbled.

The car screeched from the curb leaving a several foot tire burn on the cement.

It was nearly two-thirty when Jake meandered into the apartment. He hadn’t rushed knowing his father would pass out somewhere rather than coming home, most likely in his rundown Ford.

Once in the kitchen he opened the fridge and guzzled orange juice from the carton, then noticed the little red light flashing on the answering machine. He hit play and pulled a box of leftover pizza from the fridge. He was famished.

Beep…No one was there.

The light flashed again. He hit play.

Beep…again no one was there.

He repeated this pattern a third and a fourth time. There was no message, yet the signal light flashed. Frustrated he picked up the machine yanking the cord from the wall and smashed it into the linoleum tile before kicking it with all the force within his sinewy leg. Crack, it hit the wall at the far end of the kitchen.

His anger drained. Tears welled in his eyes. What was wrong with him? Why did every adult in his life hate him? Even his mom abandoned him when she died last spring. The feeling of worthlessness seeped into his bones. He turned on the light suddenly feeling too alone in the dimly lit apartment. For some reason the light brought him comfort. Maybe it was because his mother had always liked a lot of light. She said that her Bible was her light, and if he was ever lost or alone it was the only light he’d ever need.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 05/28/09
A very sad picture of a dysfunctional family.

I liked the note of hope at the end, but still felt as if it fizzled just a bit in the last quarter or so.

I was quite drawn to your teenage character--he was well-written.
Janice Fitzpatrick05/31/09
How sad as too many scenario's like this actually happen. Believable characters. Good job!