This is a work of flash fiction we were supposed to write. I based it on a true story I heard.

A Happy Home

"I hate you," a voice whispers harshly and I thrash awake, unable to breath. Panic seizes me and I immediately begin to thrash. Two pitiless coffee eyes stare down at me as my daughter, Madeleine, chokes me.

I try to speak, but I have no air to force the words out.

"I wanted to take the car, but you had to be a bitch and say 'no'," my incited daughter declares mightily.

With a grunt, I try to loosen the vice-like grip around my throat, but the lack of oxygen renders me unable. A tear squeezes itself out of the corner of me eye and I wish my husband were home. Why isn't he here? Perhaps he could stop this six-foot, one hundred and fifteen pound she-monster from killing me. Did she really come from my womb?


The hands mercifully loosen as we both jerk our heads towards the door. My youngest, Matt, stands at the door with his fist in his mouth. Such a blessed sight.

"God, you're so nosy," Madeleine huffs and shoves past the twenty-year-old child.

Matt bursts into tears and I struggle to sit up, opening my arms to my son. Running, he slips into my embrace and buries his face against my chest. A sigh falls from my lips and I ruffle his hair.

"It's okay. She didn't mean to scare you. Your big sister has a temper," I soothe, denying the reality of the situation. An antisocial and a retard are my so-called blessings from God but I don't know any other way to live but to love them and raise them as best I can.

The smashing of glass causes us both to jump and Matt renews his wails.

"Madeleine, please!" I beg but the slamming of a door is my only response.

After a few moments, I lead Matt to the kitchen for some breakfast. The quiet meal is only interrupted by my husband, Bruce, who walks in after a long night at work. Relief sweeps through me. While he's here, I'm safe. Matt is safe. Bruce's eyes focus on my neck. He definitely notices the purple and black stripes and grimaces.

"Where is she?"

"In her room."

A sigh of relief. So many sighs and so few smiles.

"Hey kiddo," he greets our son with a kiss on the head. What a wonderful man I married. What had we done wrong? And despite everything, I still love Madeleine. My little girl.

"Daddy!" My son's voice was full of enthusiasm and the morning's frightening incident already forgotten.

Breakfast passes quietly with a few exchanged glances and the laughter of our permanent child in residence. It doesn't bring any joy.

At eight o'clock Bruce heads to bed and a tall, lithe body slips into the kitchen.

"I want the car," Madeleine demands quietly, knowing her father is asleep and I wouldn't dare to get him. He'd been working all night to feed out family.

"No. You crashed the last one," I say as strongly as I can.

"I want it!" She smacks me across the face. Matt begins to cry again.

So do I.