The Last Strike

*trigger warning ⚠️ abuse*

In that house she sat, at the kitchen table doing her homework. Her mother was not home yet and her siblings were running about doing various activities, be it playing or solitary pursuits. She had just finished her second to last assignment when her mother came home.

She breezed in all perfume and beauty, auburn hair shinning in lovely curls, perfectly framed glasses perched smartly on her nose. opalescent pink lipstick and berry toned makeup enhanced her already lovely face. A smart two piece red suit and white button down shirt were complemented with jet jewelry and matching jet black heels. A black leather briefcase was tossed over by the coat rack with her cream-colored pea coat. A sibling ran up and hung the coat up immediately, then ran off to his or her room.

Hope, the eldest daughter, put down her pen and, with a strained smile on her face, greeted her mother warmly.

How was work mother?” She asked, folding her hands in her lap.

It was perfect darling, I landed a big case and we shall be rolling in the money soon!” She replied gaily, walking to the kitchen stove and checking all the pots with their simmering contents. Turning down a few knobs, she cracked open the oven and noticed a particularly wonderful smelling roast sat inside. “And your school work?”

Almost done, the teacher gave us extra to do to prepare for the SATs.” Hope replied tucking a strand of hair behind one ear.

Ah well, you aren’t very apt at making comparisons and I have to say your vocabulary could use a little work. Make sure you do your extra assignments I gave you on Monday too. That stupid English teacher you have this year just doesn’t know what she’s doing. When I took the SATs I earned a perfect score. Studying hard is the only way to make it! With you, studying twice as hard won’t hurt!” Her mother glowed, taking out plates and silverware for the upcoming meal.

Hope picked up her homework and study materials, walking them quietly and calmly down the hall. All of the hairs on her arms were sticking straight up and a line creased her forehead.

Steve and Chastity were in their room, and Hope saw they were cleaning up and straightening their beds. “A place for everything, and everything in its place,” her mother always said.

Talking into her room Hope put her things down carefully, quietly and neatly on her desk. She turned towards her bedroom door when she heard a great crash come from the kitchen.

Quickly, Hope ran to her sibling’s door, locked the handle from the inside, and closed them in.

The beast was awake.

You little WHORE!” Her mother screeched out into the caverns of the house. Hope quickly rushed away from her siblings towards her mother. It was better for them all if she did.

There, in the kitchen, stood her mother surrounded by shattered glass and the juices from a well cooked roast. Her shoes were kicked off and she was towelling off her wet feet that had been burned by the sauce and possibly cut by the glass.<

Hope swooped down and started to pick up the pieces of glass. Quickly, quietly, efficiently and not at all mindful of the sharpness of the glass. Her blood began to drip onto the white shards turning them red like her mother’s suit.

You little BITCH, what the fuck did you do to that plate? Do you see my shoes?! DO YOU?” Her mother screamed as she swooped down and grabbed a thick handful of blonde hair from Hope’s head and dragged her daughter through the glass to her ruined shoes. Shaking her fist full of soft gold she screeched, “You cooked too much roast, and it was too heavy for the platter! It is a perfectly good platter, you must have done something the last time you washed it because it collapsed in my hands! Look at my shoes!” She screeched and pointed with her free hand. Hope noticed her mother’s free hand was red and scuffed from the impact with the floor. Mother had fallen. It was not her fault.  It is never mother’s fault.

Still holding Hope’s hair, Hope was pulled up onto her feet and shoved into the metal pots and pans cabinet. Letting go of Hope’s hair and grabbing both of her daughters wrists, mother spat anger and hatred at her daughter. Hope almost swore she saw her mother’s eyes almost turning black.<

Hope turned her head to the side to avoid those eyes and closed her own in pain.

She had been so good today, Hope thought. She had aced her math test and had gotten home early enough to clean the house and get her siblings together. She had helped them with completing their homework and she had made a huge dent in finishing hers. But it wasn’t enough. It was never enough.

Opening her eyes she turned and looked down upon her mother. Still spitting and screaming in her insanity her mother was looking at Hope, but not actually seeing her. This gave Hope time to think.

While she tried to think of a way out. Hope noticed again, her mother was a head shorter than she was.

When had that happened? When did she become so… small?

Time seemed to slow. She flexed her writs in her mother’s hands and felt the bite of the steel shelves on her back and legs. A sudden clarity struck her and she heaved herself forward knocking her mother off-balance. Suddenly Hope had her mother’s wrists. Hope’s mother’s eyes snapped into focus and before she could regain her power, Hope took advantage.

With a voice as steely, calm, and laced with promise, Hope spoke, “If you EVER, ever, lay a hand on any of us again I will stop lying. Do you think that people haven’t noticed? My barely concealed bruises can’t be shrugged off as rough housing outside anymore. They’ve been coming, asking about YOU wondering about YOU. I will stop lying to the CPS workers that come and interview me and the others, yes all three of us have been interviewed. I will tell CPS the truth and be damned if we are split up, be DAMNED if you are arrested. It doesn’t matter where we end up, I WILL stop lying and I will tell.”<

Her mother’s eyes opened wide as the ramifications of everyone knowing, hearing, and talking about her at the office, and around town. Then her eyes took on a calculating gleam.

“Don’t even think it,” Hope interrupted, still calm but forceful, “You can lock me up but there are laws. I HAVE to go to school. You aren’t going to be able to home school me and if you try you have to go to work sometime. I will find a way to that phone, a phone, and I will tell them all. I will call them and they will know all about your darkness. You cannot be with me every single day. I will tell them all to stop lying. You will NEVER STRIKE ON OF US AGAIN.” Hope said, throwing her mother’s hands away causing her to stumble back. Falling to the floor, her mother looked up with anger, fear, and paranoia.

Hope massaged her wrists and picked up the phone, her mother stilled on the floor and her breathing caught.  Hope calmly called for a pizza to be delivered. Her mother sat on the floor in the glass, and the juice and stared at the metal shelves on the wall.

“We better clean this up now, Destiny, before the children come out. A place for everything, and everything in its place, Right?” Her daughter said, steel still supporting her commands.

Her mother stood up and flinched as Hope stared her straight in the eyes. Destiny left the room and threw her shoes away in the trash.

Taking a deep breath, Hope cleaned up and let her siblings out of their room. Hope told them what happened and what they were going to do from now on. It was time to stop living with the fear they knew and time to risk everything for something that hopefully would be better.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

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