A bit of flash fiction from the person who taught me the ends and outs of the beautiful, diverse, imaginative world of Role-Playing. I absolutely love Theresa's style of writing and the way her words create puffs of imagery that swirl around the mind and tickle the imagination. Please enjoy!
Dawn treaded swiftly on the heels of April 30th. I was twelve and preparing for examinations. Weeks had been devoted to diligent study to ensure my position of top student from the only classmate who challenged my academic reign. After dressing in uniform ensemble that fateful morning, I started down the stairwell with my briefcase. As I descended I noticed my brother, only five, displaced on the bottom step and nestled against the wall in his pajamas. Upon examination, I found him fast asleep, his rosy cheeks pressed against the cool surface. I had brushed the loose strands of sloppy hair from his forehead before observing the eerie calm. Maids usually bustled about, but not today. I rested my briefcase at the base of the rail and sat beside my baby brother to lightly rub his back. The house was pin-drop quiet. I scooped the little one up and stood upright, considering putting him in bed before heading to school.
I had placed my foot on the first step when I heard the sound.
It was faint and at first I thought my foot had creaked against the polished wood, but then it came again. Had a bird flown into a window? The still air caused the third echo to zenith louder than the two previous. My curiosity exchanged the idea of returning my little brother for discovering the origins of the odd thumping. The sound didn’t come again, but it didn’t have to. Turning down the open corridor, I walked past the family portraits to Father’s private study.
Silence even stronger than before lingered as I pressed my ear against the cherry-wood door. I held my breath as I distinguished muffled voices-– Father’s overpowering Mother’s. The walls and door were sound proof, protecting their words from my ears. There was no keyhole to peep through or hole through which to listen. I knelt down to prop the sleeping boy beside me against the wall. Standing again, I tested the doorknob with a cautious twist. It unlatched easily.
Up until now I was extraordinarily calm. I hadn’t realized this until a constricting nervousness harried my heart. My hand jerked away as regret consumed me. If father caught me, he’d… but the door steadily opened until a sliver of light shone through. Suddenly their voices were clear, crisp and audible and I could do naught but spy.
“I will not let you do this to my sons,” Mother’s voice came, shaking and strained, through gritted teeth. “I will not –”
“You have no say in the matter,” retaliated Father in a voice unshaken but elevated, “I will do as I must for the security of this family.”
“It’s not this family you care about!”
I strained to see, but only the back of Mother’s white gown and elbow-length, wispy black hair was visible. She took several steps backward into full view. Her face was stained with cosmetics and tears. Her arm tucked close to her side and behind her.
“I’ll ask you again, put it down.”
“I will not let him have my boys,” her voice shook. She backed out of my vision and Father entered next. His composure was calm as always.
And then it happened. I was so eager to see what had become of Mother I took a step forward unconsciously. The door pushed open with a creak. Both heads spun. Four crazed eyes bore into me.
Mother moved first, revealing a long knife clasped in her fist. She leapt towards me like a doe through mist, her hair blowing in the wind of her precise motion. Time ceased as she gained proximity. Her eyes focused on mine, some unforeseen passion driving her. My legs froze in place, hypnotized by the sight of her loving face obscured into this twisted mask. In the same timeless motion, Father grabbed Mother’s shoulder and upper arm, yanking her away before she could strike. At that moment I fell to my knees and watched an angel struggle against a devil, though I knew not who was which.
Mother kept her eyes on me, fighting against Father to lunge in my direction every chance she had. Her strong grip on the knife proved useful as she sliced at Father who powerfully defended. She pushed with all of her might against his grip as they tangled within each other. The sight was menacing and I sunk until my bottom hit the floor. Tears flooded Mother’s eyes as a moment of weakness finally broke her. She stumbled back, crumbling to her knees.
“My children!” she cried, the knife still held high.
She lunged for Father this time. He forced the knife from her white knuckles and plunged it into her throat. They stood like statues, Father looming over her, both shocked and locked in motion, until her hands slowly moved towards the hilt. Her once crazed eyes were now sorrowful and empty. Her lips moved but no voice came, though I knew she called my name. Then she fell to the ground in a cascade of white like petals of a wilting flower. Everything stilled once more.
I was too shocked to speak. There was a lump in my throat, as if I had re-swallowed my heart after regurgitating it. Father’s shaking hands balled into fists as his angry eyes turned on me.
“Out!” he shouted, “Get out now!”
Scrambling to my feet, I fled, the door slamming vehemently behind me. Snatching my briefcase, I dashed out the front door as fast as I could, my brother forgotten.
To this day I wonder why it had to happen. Why was I so helpless to defend her? A heart full of rage and confusion converted into ambition. I now strive towards one goal: to someday return my beloved mother to this earth.