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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Angry (08/02/07)

TITLE: Sins of the Father...
By Lynda Lee Schab


Mark did not want to be here. But bolting was not an option. He needed to face what he did.

Like a man.

“So what was your childhood like, Mark?” The shrink looked just like the ones in the movies. Sitting back easily in the chair. Legs crossed. Legal pad perched on his lap, pen poised. Glasses covering gentle eyes. Eyes that seemed to bare into his soul – not judging, only wanting to understand. To help.

“Crappy. Horrible. Scary. It sucked.”

“How so?”

Mark took a deep breath and ran a hand through his hair. “My dad. He was an alcoholic. Spent more time at Frankie’s bar than at home.”

“And what would happen when your dad got drunk?”

“Every night around midnight, Mom would wake me and my brother and tell us to get under the bed. Mom probably hoped the sound would be muffled under there but we heard everything. Dad slamming the door. His work boots thumping the floor as he staggered to the kitchen. His slurred verbal attacks on Mom. Mom quietly begging him to lower his voice. And then...then the banging around. Mom getting slammed into the wall. Her cries...”

The shrink’s expression didn’t change but he jotted something down on his pad. He'd probably heard stories like Mark's a thousand times.

“What about you? Did your father ever get violent with you or your brother?”

Mark looked away, his eyes clouding over. “When I was sixteen, he came after me with a baseball bat. Kenny tackled him from behind. Shocked the sense out of him. We pounded him a few times. It felt so good...he never came after us again.”

“Why do you think it felt so good?”

Mark clenched his jaw and snapped his head in the doctor’s direction. “’Cause we gave that scum some of his own medicine! He knew for once how it felt to be kicked around." He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. "But Mom was crying, begging us to stop. Can you believe it? After everything he did to her, she didn’t want us to hurt him!” He shook his head and looked out the small window. The sun was shining – in direct contrast to his dark mood.

“Do you still see your parents?”

“I haven’t seen my dad since the day I left - thank God. My mom finally got the guts to leave after Kenny and I moved out. I visit her once in a while.”

“You sound angry. How does it make you feel that your mother waited until you left home to leave your dad?”

“It sucks! She should taken me and Kenny and left when we were little. He could’ve killed any one of us. But she stayed anyway. I don't get it.”

The shrink was silent for a minute. “So let’s talk about your wife.”

Sandy. Mark dropped his head in his hands and wept. He heard a box of tissues sliding across the coffee table in front of him. He reached out, grabbed one and wiped his nose then rubbed his eyes with his fists. “She didn’t deserve what I did.”

“No, she didn’t.”

“It’s like I couldn’t help it. Something rose up in me that I couldn’t control. I wasn’t going to hit her. But then she told me I was acting just like my father. I snapped...” He swiped at his cheeks. “I hardly remember doing it...God, forgive me...”

“And Matthew? Was he there?”

“He was in his high chair.” Mark’s voice broke and he choked out the words. ”He saw everything...he...can’t...turn out like...me.”

“He won’t, Mark. Not if you stop the cycle now. It’s up to you.”

Mark nodded. He had a tough road ahead of him but the memory of Matthew crying...Sandy screaming...Yes, he would stop the cycle.

“Next time, we’ll talk about what steps you can take to make that happen.” The shrink closed his pad and glanced at the door.

The door opened and the guard stepped in, motioning with his head that it was time for Mark to return to his cell.

Mark stood and gave the shrink a nod, blinking back the last of his tears.

As the door to his cell clanged shut, Mark was left alone to face what he did.

Like a man.

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This article has been read 1229 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Loren T. Lowery08/09/07
The title is so approprite for this story. That the cycle can be broken gives hope to us all, because as you've written, such sensless acts can seem to be forever perptetual.
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/09/07
How sad--the chain of abuse from father to son. You have described it well. The story of whether he beat-up or whether he killed his wife tantalizes the reader.
Lynda Schultz 08/09/07
Powerful piece. Great work.
Seema Bagai 08/10/07
This brought tears to my eyes. I could feel the anger and sadness.
Kristen Hester08/12/07
Oh wow. This is so powerful and moving. I have chills. Wonderful writing.
Joanne Sher 08/12/07
Oh, excellent! Just love the unanswered questions - kept me absolutely intrigued. You definitely "got me" with his current residence. Great stuff.
Janice Fitzpatrick08/12/07
Great job! This surely fits the topic! The emotion is well displayed through descriptive dialogue. This piece is so tragic and what even makes it more so is the fact that the situation you wrote about goes on and on in society.
Your ending was unexpected. I could almost hear the cell door shut. WOW! Keep up the wonderful writing!
Jan Ackerson 08/14/07
Oh, that ending really got me! Very good story--the situation is all too real and you've dealt with it unflinchingly.

I had to keep mentally revising Mark's age and circumstances--there were points when his dialog seemed very young, and times much older and more articulate. Something to look at, perhaps?

Through my husband's job, I've learned that this cycle is almost impossible to break--but you've given us a welcome ray of hope. Great job.
Sharlyn Guthrie08/14/07
I'm so glad that this ended with a little glimmer of hope. You did a wonderful job of showing cause and effect.
Mariane Holbrook 08/15/07
What a message! How well written. It was a slam dunk at the end. A tremendous piece. Wow!
Dee Yoder 08/15/07
I'm also glad of that hope-filled ending. As I read this, I could sense the hatred this man had for his Dad, so I was torn between understanding him because of his terrible childhood, and being repulsed that he could do the same thing to his wife and child. But, this is the reality of what happens when children are involved in this kind of family behavior. You got me totally involved in this story! Great writing.
George Parler 08/15/07
Very intense emotions are brought to life in your writing. Good job.
Tammy Johnson08/16/07
Woohooo! Congrats, Lynda!
Loren T. Lowery08/16/07
Just wanted to add my congratulations to your placement. Reading this article meant a lot to me and I was glad to see it recognized - Loren
Lisa Holloway08/18/07
This is some very real writing about a hard topic. Well done!