I guess this is technically Flash Fiction, though I never tend to pay a whole lot of attention to that stuff as I write. This just so happens to be a very brief tale I wrote last night. I like the heck out of it. Strange to be back on a writing kick again with no outlet for the stories other than here or nowhere – mostly nowhere – but so be it.
It was all she could do.
The years a black parade of rotting wood.
The tree dying more and more with each generation.
Devoured from within.
Another shove and the girl stumbles back two feet.
Another shove and the smaller girl falls to her knees.
A punch and the girl is bent over on her hands and knees, blood bubbling up from her lip and running down her chin.
Please, please, please, please.
Another punch, then another, then another, then another and the girl is on her back, face bruised, lips and nose bleeding but there are no tears. There are no cries. Not from her. Just the cough of liquid in the lungs and the grimace of deep bruises.
One sister looks down at the other and there are tears in her eyes. She balls her fists and sends and errant kick into her younger sister, bends down and picks up a small red book then turns and walks back towards the house.
The younger girl lays on the ground for a moment, the blood on her face slowing and finally stopping. She rolls over with a groan and gets one hand down, then another and carefully pushes herself up to her knees where she can slowly rise.
The girl looks over at her great-aunt and smiles weakly as she walks over to the old woman.
“Was it like this with you and Grandpa Ken when he was alive? Did you guys play fight a lot?”
Remembering Ken’s hands around her throat, pushing her, pushing her, pushing her towards the stairs. Screaming at her for walking in on him as he was in the bathroom masturbating to a catalog. She had felt his fists before, had heard his screams, just as her mother had felt and heard the same from their father but it had never been like this. Never.
And then the shove and down the stairs she went, feeling her body go from red to white to a pale gray that had spread out through the years to become a permanent cocoon of silence.
The old woman looked down at her feet, her lap, her hands, all of it frozen, the ice having formed seventy years earlier. And when Ken took her into his home she became witness to his deepening anger and had suffered from his rage, just as his wife and children did.
She had watched silently as her family tree rotted from within and each day she wished she could move long enough to set fire to what remained to scorch the earth of her family.
Instead she was silent.
The tears were her only answer to her great-niece, whose bruised face matched her own, her niece in law taking out some nameless frustration on the old woman her family had unhappily inherited.
Burn it down.