I watched him beat my brother. Watched his fist sink into his stomach, watched the agony strike across my brother’s face. I heard the yelling, so close, yet so distant somehow. Useless, embarrassment, idiot, words I’d heard being said of my brother too many times. His eyes were bloodshot and blurred, the way a traffic light would look to an intoxicated driver. My father’s face was crimson, his breathing heavy. He clung onto my brother’s shirt and pressed him up against the living room wall, next to the rips and tears in the wallpaper, memories of previous fights. Blood stained the side of the carpet. When people came over, we’d lie and say it was red wine. I was sick of all the lies. Dad kicked back the sofa to get even closer. I sat on the armchair across the room, helpless. My mouth opened and I tried to force the word out. Stop. That’s all it took. But I couldn’t say it. It wouldn’t come.
“Get out of my house! Get out and don’t come back, you hear me?” As he pushed him through the door, my brother’s jacket caught on the side of the mantelpiece. Bad move. A glass vase toppled to the floor, shattering into a hundred tiny pieces, just like my family, just like my heart. My brother turned as if he were about to apologise, but instead he smirked, a mysterious twinkle in his eyes. And, with that, he rounded the corner and thrust open the door. The house shook as he slammed it behind him. His shadow faded from behind the pale beige curtains. He was gone. He didn’t even look back, no sympathetic look, no it’ll be alright. Things were different this time. He didn’t even say goodbye.
“Molly, have you done your homework darling?” Dad stroked my hair with his faded red palm. I could only nod. “Good girl, go study for next week’s test then. We want to make sure you’re first in the class. Make me proud, alright kiddo?” I nodded again.