It is Friday. This week that manifests as a bunch of prep and packing and cooking ahead for a series of trips. And I am looking forward to it. But I am also exhausted. Sleep is often elusive to me in summer. By the time it’s dark enough to fall asleep it’s late enough to put my brain in “Burn-the-midnight-fuel!” mode. It makes getting up in the early a.m. to go walking a total drag. And then my movement quality isn’t great. Which makes me more likely to eat things I shouldn’t and drink caffeine later than I should, which impacts my sleep…. I need a nap now.
But despite this negative spiral I am here again with a bit of improved, live-written flash fiction. Shall we see what today’s prompts from The Storymatic are?
Today’s prompts: Person with a grudge, missing child
I thought I’d forgiven him. I thought I’d let go and let God and all that. It turns out the malice I’d born him was like banked coals in the back of my brain. All I needed was fresh fuel.
And teenage girls have no shortage of that. All the sass and vinegar of hormones plus the drive to be their own person. It means late nights that become really mornings that get capped off with fights when everyone is tired and feeling hard done by. It means making “those” shorts disappear, and listening to them curse you even as you point out if they’d do their own laundry they’d know where their clothes would be. And sometimes it means calling the police when it’s been over eighteen hours since they checked in and none of their friends know where they are.
As it turns out some of those girls aren’t her friends anymore.
I had no idea.
So maybe I was blaming myself in that moment too. That’s dangerous.
But he just showed up. That bastard came knocking on my door claiming he’d gotten clean and he just wanted to see his girl. To apologize. To say he was sorry.
It’s such a lame word, an impotent semantic bit of drivel. It can’t change the past or the present. It’s an insult. As if a mumbled apology could ever make right the decade of pain and work and grief that resulted from his garbage choices.
I lost it. All that pent up blame and rage and frustration over what we all lost because of him came bursting out of me. I wasn’t sane. It would have dangerous for anyone to have been near me in that moment.
“Where is she?” I screamed, sure that this was some kind of play. He had her. He was holding it over my head. He’d wormed his way back into her life already and he was here to gloat.
But he just looked confused. He babbled something about not knowing what I was talking about. It all just made me angrier. I didn’t even realize I’d picked anything up. I didn’t see the police car turning up the street with my daughter in the back seat.
But the officer driving absolutely saw me bludgeon him to death on my front porch. Years of resentment and suffering pouring out of me and into his skull. He didn’t even resist much. In the past he wouldn’t have let me land a hit before swinging back or worse.
Now he just looked stunned. Whatever he’d expected from this encounter it hadn’t been a mad woman with a vase–was it a vase?– in her hand bringing down all the consequences of his choices down on his head in three swift strikes.
She just stood in the lawn staring at me. Like I was the one who’d done wrong. Like was the one who hadn’t called home and made every night for the last two months sleepless ones.
The officer asked me what happened. He asked me again and again. But I couldn’t answer.
How do you explain 16 years of pain to another person? How do you articulate justice that the law could never have given. I felt light and free for the first time since I couldn’t even remember when. I floated down off the porch. I told my girl to clean her room and make her little brother some dinner.
Than I got into the newly emptied backseat of the officer’s car.
How about you? What are you in for?
This one comes from a place I’ve been teasing apart for a few months now. As an adoptive parent you learn very quickly that anger with your children’s biological parents serves no one: not you kids, not your family, not you. And yet, there is a piece of me that wonders how I would react if/when I was confronted with them again. Would the very human capacity for malice make itself known? Would I just slam the door in their face? I don’t know. But I know I’m not in a place where it would be pretty. I am certain that whatever the gracious response, the appropriate response would be, I’m not capable of it just yet.
Which grudges are you still carrying? What are you capable of that could put you behind bars?