Not going to lie, I am nervous to even put this on my blog because I know it is awful. But it is the first story I have actually completed in probably years. So, I thought I would take a deep breath and post it anyway.
This story was in response to the Writer’s Digest Your Story Competition #66. Not that I have an illusions about this winning or getting anywhere other than the bottom of the pile – but, again, at least I wrote something.
Prompt: Write a short story of 750 words or fewer based on the following prompt:
Mommy, I don’t like this.
“Give it to me!” “No, it’s mine!” My children’s angry voices reached me from their bedroom as I leaned down to pick up the toys left on the floor from today’s play session. I sighed inwardly, and only hesitated a moment before deciding to wait and see if they worked it out themselves rather than rushing in to break up yet another fight. Both had woken up on the wrong side of the bed this morning and it had been a very long day.
As I moved to the toy bin, I heard their cries get louder. “You had it ALL DAY! It’s MY turn! MOMMY!!!” I dropped the Legos in the Lego bin and turned to the Barbies, still hoping they would work it out without assistance. “You’re mean! You’re always mean! You would be nice if Daddy was here!” My heart constricted as I heard my little boy’s reasoning, and the long day finally fully caught up with me as I sank to my knees on the carpeted floor, my heart heavy as it echoed my child’s wish. If only Daddy were here. I felt an unnatural heaviness in my arms as I reached out to pick up the next toy, but couldn’t find the strength to actually pick it up. I let my hands rest on the ground as I stared at the floor, both unwilling and unable to force myself to rise as I fought to keep the exhausted tears back, and re-construct the wall around my heart that always fell too easily. At least not until there was no one awake to hear me cry and the darkness overwhelmed me alone in the large bed. Then it wasn’t worth the effort to keep the wall up.
“Well, he isn’t here! Daddy is NEVER here!” His sister’s harsh tones pierced me, and evidently her brother as well, as I heard the thump of a small hand hitting something- or someone – hard. “OUCH! MOMMY!! DAVEY HIT ME!” My children’s need for an intermediary overruled my lack of fortitude as I forced myself back up and walked toward my children’s room as slowly as if my legs were made of cement. I didn’t want to see their little faces, full of accusing tears, staring up at me and silently demanding to know why their daddy wasn’t here anymore. Everytime I saw them cry, my mind would flash back to when we had our final fight – the one that had climaxed them all – and he had driven away. My children seemed to know something was different that time because they had gone running to the door as he slammed it behind him and stared out the window, tears welling up in their little faces that time too. Davey had summed it up for all of us as he turned to look at me that night as his daddy’s truck disappeared over the hill. “Mommy, I don’t like this.” “Me neither. Me neither.” I mumbled in response yet again to the memory. But I hadn’t known how to fix it. How to fix what I had said – what he had said – how to erase everything that had happened between us. It was too much. So I hadn’t tried. And he hadn’t either. A week of silence had turned into a month, which had turn into six months. It was too late now – what could you say after six months of silence to erase the hurt that had had such a long time to stew?
My hand reached for the doorknob just as I heard my daughter’s voice, suddenly quieter. “Why are you cryin’, Davey?” “Cause you are mean!” my little boy sobbed. “No I ain’t. You are the one who hitted me!” Her voice resonated with indignance. “But you said mean things.” Silence. Then. “I’m sorry, Davey. I was just mad.” Silence again. I peaked inside. Susanna had her arms wrapped around her little brother. “I forgive you.” He whispered, and hugged her back.
I shut the door again silently, unheeding of the instant tears that spilled down my cheeks, struck with the simplicity of their exchange. It was the most beautiful demonstration of love I had ever seen. I walked back into the kitchen, and stood there. Then I reached for the phone.