Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: STORM (10/05/17)
TITLE: Just Another Night
By Donna Powers
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When I looked up, I saw feathery blue sky and fluffy clouds. It was the kind of day I’d like to just stay outside as long as I can. Even if I hadn’t been playing ball with Dad, it would still have been a pretty great day. The wind tossed gusts of warmth toward me; the sun glowed brightly through the clouds. On days like this, Dad tells corny jokes and pretends I’m throwing the ball too hard and he can’t catch it.
Thursday 6:30 pm
We came inside when the clouds began to turn gray, and Dad heated up some frozen dinners. I like fried chicken, and Dad usually has a turkey dinner. Those dinners are normally foolproof, but every once in a while, they just don’t cook right. Tonight was one of those nights. I heard a crackle of thunder as I began to eat my chicken. Dad stared out the window at the darkening sky, and suddenly threw his dinner into the garbage. I didn’t ask what was wrong; this had happened more than once before.
Thursday 7:00 pm
My chicken didn’t taste as great as usual and normally I‘d want some ice cream, but I didn’t even look in the freezer. The tension in our kitchen was as thick as a fog, and I grabbed my books and retreated to my room. The thunder drummed the sky, and when I left Dad, he’d already gone through his first bottle of Scotch. I wanted to postpone the inevitable explosion as long as I could. Maybe if I stayed quietly in my room…
I switched on the light and tried to bury myself in my Math book. Just concentrate, I told myselfThe lights flickered on and off a few times, but I didn’t hear anything more outside my room.
Thursday 8:00 pm
The wind outside began to howl and I felt the rain pelt against the walls. No matter how hard I tried not to; I also heard the crash of bottles and dishes breaking in the kitchen. Grimly, I went to my closet and grabbed a pre-packed backpack. It held a change of clothes, a towel, soap, a toothbrush and toothpaste; and a pair of pajamas. That backpack was always ready … just in case. As quietly as I could, I pushed opened the window in my room. I put on a jacket, jammed my books into the backpack, and quickly climbed out onto the ground.
Thank God my room is on the first floor. As I stepped quickly away from our house, I heard Dad’s voice as he filled the kitchen with curses and more breaking dishes and bottles.
Thursday 10:00 pm
Aunt Tessie and I had an unspoken agreement, so I went there. She knew what had happened as soon as I knocked on the door, so all she did was hug me and then hand me a mug of cocoa. The rain was still pulsing steadily, but the cocoa slowly began to soothe the knot in my stomach.
We’d done this more often than I wanted to remember, so Aunt Tessie let me sit quietly on the couch without questions or too many words. Slowly, my tension began to subside, and my eyelids began to feel heavy.
Aunt Tessie must have covered me up after I fell asleep, because I woke up warm and feeling more rested than I had expected to feel. I stretched and peeked out the window: the sun was starting to streak through the clouds. It was time to get ready for school, and I quietly washed up and changed.
“Do you want eggs and toast?” Aunt Tessie asked. The peace I felt at that moment was so precious that I just nodded. I didn’t want anything to break this mood. I looked at her and smiled. She smiled back as she fixed breakfast.
“I’ll give you a ride, Honey,” said Aunt Tessie.
“Thanks. Umm… Aunt Tessie?”
“What is it?”
“Why does he do it? Why can’t he stop?”
She shut her eyes for a second and reached over to pat my shoulder. “Oh, honey. I don’t know. I pray he will, someday. I do wish he would, but I’ll always be here in case he can’t.”
As I opened the door and savored the smell of the rain-drenched grass and savored the re-emerging sun, I figured that was just about the best promise anyone could make for today.
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