Home Run

This story placed second for the weekly competition at the Writer’s Block Discord. https://writersblockdiscord.com/ The prompt was to write about a betrayal.

***

I’m staring at the aluminum bat sticking out of a cubby in the front entrance. Father gave me that bat on my tenth birthday, and beamed as I tore open the box, ready to proclaim me the next Barry Bonds. When I quit the game seven years later, he refused to speak to me for two weeks; the best two weeks of my life.

“Pat, get in here,” Father says.

My siblings wait in the kitchen. Little Jonah with a puffy black eye and Christie with her hair in braids. Father breathes melodramatically over the sink. He props himself up on the counter with rigid arms as if consumed by nausea.

“Everyone ready?” Mom asks. She appears at the bottom of the stairs wearing a pale cream dress and the hem sways around her swollen knees. Cherry red lipstick and curled lashes make her look five years younger.

“What took you so long?” Father asks. He turns around, facing Mom, and the chords in my neck tighten. His eyes are too wide, intense with emotion, and his lips form a razor’s edge.

“We’re going out, I want to look my best sweetie,” Mom says. She runs a hand through the bangs of her bobcat cut with a flourish.

“You look so pretty mom,” says Christie.

“Made us wait a century for the pleasure,” Father says.

“Is it such a big deal?” Mom asks. She’s smiling but her lips quiver like muscles after a workout.

“Yes, it is. I’m exhausted, but you don’t know shit about a hard day’s work do you?” Father says.

“Can we try being nice for once? The kids are here,” Mom says. “We’re going to a movie and we’re going to share popcorn.“

“Can you try not being a fucking nag for once?” Father says.

Jonah’s face crumples and he darts up the stairs. His door slams and the sound reverberates through the house.

“I thought I told you not to slam that door,” Father says.

“Please, let’s have a nice evening,” Mom says.

Father stalks forward and swipes at her face. His palm connects with a smack and Mom stumbles from the blow. I push my father’s arm across his chest, and slam him against the wall.

“What are you gonna do boy? I made you,” Father says. He pushes back and sends me sprawling across the tiles.

Christie hugs Mom’s legs, playing protector to parent. A red mark stains Mom’s cheek.

“Oh, Christie wants to learn the lesson I taught the boys a long time ago,” Father says.

“Don’t you dare,” Mom says.

I walk out of the kitchen towards the front entrance.

“That’s right, walk away,” Father says. “He learned his lesson long ago.”

My hand wraps around the bat’s soft handle and I heft the aluminum end over my shoulder.

“Go to your room sweetie. I’ll be okay,” Mom says.

Christie’s desperate sobs raise hackles on the nape of my neck.

I burst into the kitchen and Father fixes me with a malevolent leer. A vein on his temple pulses like the taut surface of a war drum.

“Everybody look at the big man,” Father says. “Too bad you can’t swing for sh-“

I swing with all my might and the bat connects with my father’s jaw. His features distort as teeth burst from his mouth and clatter against the plaster wall.

Christie and Mom both scream. I step over Father’s prone form and raise the bat over my head. The wails of despair do little to dispel the crunch as I bring the bat down again.

I prepare to slam the bat down on his ruined skull once more but small fists hammer my shoulders. I turn around, and Mom slams her hands into my chest, forcing me towards the front door.

“Get out,” Mom says.

I stumble backwards and drop the bat.

“Get out,” Mom says.

I backpedal away from Mom, towards the door, and raise my hands to calm her.

Christie buries her face in her arms and her shoulders shake. Jonah watches from the top of the stairs, face white as paste, and I want to comfort him.

Mom swings the door open and launches me outside using a vice like grip on the back of my neck. I stand on the welcome mat feeling a blend of anger and confusion.

“How could you do that to your father?” Mom says. “Get out of here before I call the police.”

The door slams and the lock clicks.

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