“Chase!” she calls up the stairs,
“Chase, dinner’s ready!”
And then she patiently waits for the sound of thundering feet.
“If he can’t be bothered to come here on time,” he says,
As he dishes out macaroni,
“Then he can go hungry for once.”
She secretly agrees
As she turns to stare at his two children
Who happily dig into dinner,
And then to her slumped, tired son
As he stomps to the table,
Headphones tightly glued to ears
Glaring at the floor.
“Take those bloody things out,” he says.
“I said,” he repeats, “Take those bleeding things out!”        
And then he pulls them from her son’s ears,
Despite his protests.
“Why’re you listening to this rubbish anyway?”
He asks, holding the earphones aloft.
“That’s me,” her son growls,
Rubbing his red ears,
“It’s the new band. They said I was good enough to join.”
“Pretty rubbish band,” he says,
Listening to the screaming drums blaring out.
She secretly agrees.
Flicking sleek raven hair from his eyes,
Her son makes to get up,
Ignoring the sudden bark from him to sit down
And strides from the room.
He glowers at her son’s retreating back.
“That boy of yours is spoilt rotten,” he points out,
Lovingly stroking his daughter’s golden, silky hair.
She secretly agrees
And wonders why she allowed her son to become this way.
“You dote on  him too much,” he continues,
Not hearing her timid reply
“He’s fifteen. He’ll be moving out soon, thank God,”
He adds,
Turning to gaze at the calendar on the wall,
Carefully marking down the days until her son is eighteen.
There is a sudden crash from the hallway.
Smiling apologetically, she leaves the table
To go and survey the damage
To both the shoe drawer
And her son’s bruised and bleeding knuckles.
“I don’t see why you had to marry him,” her son mutters,
His eyes an icy cavern as he stares intently at her
Fragile, frail, figure.
“Dad’s a hundred times better than him.”
“Your father is dead,” she whispers,
Trying to stand straight and tall,
Just like he prompted her to
When speaking to her son.
“Jesus Christ,” her son snaps,
Taking a large step forward
Until he towers over her
“You don’t think I realized Dad’s dead?”
And she remembers the day
Eight years ago
When she sat her seven-year-old
On the sofa
And explained to him
That Daddy wouldn’t be coming home anymore.
“I don’t see why you had to marry such a jerk,”
Her son hisses
His voice low and violent
And she tries not to hear the pain
Buried inside the anger.
“He’s such a control freak.”
“He pushes you.”
“He calls you fat.”
“And stupid.”
“And ugly.”
“So why, Mum?”
“Why do you put up with it?”
“He doesn’t deserve you.”
She secretly agrees.

The End

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