Alone

He sat in the corner with his hands over his ears, dark hair bunched up and tangled in his grasp. The tears dripped down his face. His mouth hung open. Veins protruded from his neck and forehead. His face glowed a bright red. With his eyes squeezed shut, the child tried not to picture what was going on outside of his bedroom. In this large, cold home. Even with his ears forced deaf, he could still hear. Her screams. Too many times had he heard them; he knew the screams so well that he needed no ear canal to channel the sound waves. Just as one remembers the sound of an alarm clock, such was his ways. The fact that it was happening again worsened his vivid memory's assault.

What must have been a thump shook his wall. The boy jumped slightly, and then withdrew into himself, knees to forehead and arms clasped tightly around his calves. He watched through a crack at his feet. The wall continued to shake for a moment, stopping abruptly. He lifted his head slowly, and the coldness from his tear stains stung his cheek. Browns eyes waited for a sign of movement.

His hearing returned almost instantly. His throat was sore. With a fuzz mind and a jerk in his gut, the boy climbed to his feet, using the wall as support. Leaning against the grey paint, he breathed heavily and watched the shadows dance in front of his door. Footsteps slowly moved away, as did the shadows, and the light in the hallway went out.

The boy pushed away from the wall, feeling his knees give a little. He caught himself and continued to his door. Shaky hands gripped the handle, and the boy pulled open his only curtain from reality.

His small frame became overshadowed by the dark, narrow, vanishing point of the hall. Peeking around, the boy looked towards the winding stairway, where the shadows slinked away. His throat throbbed as he cleared away some of his nervousness, moving his gaze towards the room next door. He dropped his boney hand from the doorframe, and in gripping his shirt hem, scooted to the other door. His feet burned, more of a tingle, as he made his way. The friction from the floors caused a rush of static to go through his arm, zapping the tips of his fingers as he pulled them along the wall. He jerked his arm away, crossing both around his midriff. His eyes moved rapidly all around, checking for trouble. It was quite, aside from the sound of his socks against the plush white carpet. And his muted whimpering. A light bussed suddenly in the room just as he stood before the door. Sucking his bottom lip between his bucked teeth, the boy shook, staring wide eyed. His breathing hitched, then becoming erratic. With a jolt, his arm darted out and pushed open the door. He snaked his arms back in place too quickly and stepped back as the door creaked open.

Sweat beaded his brow, and a drop trickled down his rose lips. Swallowing and craning his neck to wipe his face on his shoulder, the boy told himself that he was brave. Hugging himself, he walked into the room.

A waft of ammonia struck him, gagging him, and he shut his eyes and doubled over, holding his bile in. Breathing as slowly as he found possible, the boy straightened. His eyes reopened, vision blurring. He tasted salt on his lips and realized he was crying. Yes, he had known this would eventually happen. Half sobbing, half gasping, the boy gazed upon his parents' blood soaked sheets; their streaked floor; their splattered and smeared wall.

Not having realized that he had backed into the dresser, the boy slid his body down to sit, his hands running over cold gold as he did so. His head rested on the oak and he stared at the bed.

"Boy?"

Silence. His throat ached.

"Boy. . .stand up."

His black locks clung to his tear soaked face. And as he turned his head, the boy felt something inside of him give out. He gazed up at his father, mouth trembling. The man stood before him, covered in his wife's blood. His pursed lips sneered at his son, and his eyes bored into the boy's fear. Such cold, black eyes. The man's brow, wrinkled, hard, and pale, furrowed further as he stepped closer to the boy. His boot nudged his son's leg.

"I said stand up."

Shaking, the boy felt a fire in his throat. "No," he croaked, and more tears fell.

The boy's head jerked to the side as a clapping sound resonated off the master-bedroom walls. His face stung, and he could feel his father glaring at him.

"Stand up."

He stood, head down and looking at the bloody boot.

"You are nothing . . ."

His eyes trailed sluggishly to his pajama pants, where a blood smear made the material cling to his clammy skin.

". . .but afterbirth, slithered out of your mother's womb."

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