SMACK and then the subsequent whisper. The hard contact of palm to face, she flinches, neck snapped to the left and a cry. I can feel her pain, no tears but the sound of flesh meeting resistance and the realization of ‘again.’
“O, God.” I step towards her with outstretched arms for comfort and to intervene but she spins towards me and vehemently whispers, “Get back, GO!”
Her head snapped back as he yanked her silver silky coils. She reached for the doorframe with one hand and cupped the base of her neck with the other.
Her eyes tightly closed, she bit her lip so hard I could see the raggedy impression left by the bottom ridges.
I had been told to “go” and I knew what that meant: to go, to leave it be, go back to my room—stay safe.
Like wood splintering, his fists a sharp blade inflicting cuts.
But I ignore the sounds intently listening for my mother’s soft alto voice—not a groan, a whimper or stir.
I retreat into the hallway and feel the cool floor beneath my feet—I’m surprised by the touch.
Silence still it was deafening, hollow. Then the left foot recoils, the right leg kicks, my arms swing out, my chest expanding, breath heavy as I sprint—running toward the absence of sound—the gap between my mother and I and directly into the storm.