Smoke, Strangers and Strobe Lights

Submitted into Contest #11 in response to: Write about an adult event or gathering from the point of view of a child.... view prompt

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Papa forgot to tuck me in bed tonight again. Usually Mama does it, but she told me that she will be working during my bedtime. I miss it when she would read Goodnight, Dear Child every night and gives me a kiss on the forehead. Papa just turns off the lights and slams the door shut. “Don’t go outside,” he says coldly. I nod and say “goodnight” in exchange, before the door closes. The loud pang is followed by a welcome of silence and solitude. Normally I shut my eyes and can’t wait to wake up from Mama’s warmth, but I hear laughter outside of my room. Multiple, unfamiliar laughter alongside with Papa’s combination of laughing and coughing echo underneath the door crack. The music booms, and my dark room shakes like there’s an earthquake. I lay and toss myself around the bed, trying to find a way to go to sleep. But the noises just keeps getting louder and distracting. 

“Don’t come out,” Papa’s voice repeats in my head. I turn once more and face the wall, away from the door. My hand unconsciously swoops and grabs Mr. Bunny, who is sitting right next to me. I remember Mama bringing him home for the first time. I was so happy. One time, I overheard her and Papa  arguing, because I was “too old” for stuffed animals. But I don’t mind, because he gives me more protection and comfort than Papa ever has. I hold him close and tight, trying to obey Papa’s orders. 

“Don’t do it. Don’t do it,” I tell myself and shut my eyes. “Be a good boy.”

Time has passed, and I don’t know how long it has been. But, I suddenly need to use the bathroom. Maybe Papa won’t mind? It is an emergency. I stand and my stomach feels light, but my feet feels heavy, as if they’re anchored to the ground, telling me not to go. If I did go outside, Papa will end up hitting me with his belt or any other tool for disobeying him. If I don’t go outside, I’ll end up wetting myself and Papa will still hit me and will have Mama clean up the mess. I don’t want Mama to clean up. I take a deep breath and with Mr. Bunny by my side, I head towards the door and open it.

The flickering light from the hallway wakes me up and the noises amplifies. The bathroom is on the other side of the house and I have to walk through the living room. I’ll make this quick and I’ll run back to my room, without encountering Papa. I go through the hallway that looks more narrow and longer than usual. The farther I go, the music becomes louder and the smell of smoke becomes more pungent. Turning right, I see the whole view of the transformed living room.  Gray smoke cascades over the area, lights of different colors flashes rapidly, just like “World of Color” at Disneyland. Smells of smoke and other funky scents punch their way into my nose. Also, people. So many people. None of them are my age. They’re all adults. Almost each one carries either a bottle of my dad’s favorite drink or a small glass that seems to contain water inside. But I think it’s the type of water that tastes funky and my Mama forbids me to drink. Papa made me drink it once when I couldn’t stop crying. It made me stop, but I couldn’t move after. 

On the dining table, there’s so many opened bottles and cans of different sizes. A lot of them is the favorite drink my Papa sips every night. To the left side of the table, a crowd of adults hover over a ping pong table with a lot of red cups on both sides. One person is on the edge of each table, throwing one of the ping pong balls into the cup. The man on the right scores and the crowd gives a deafening cheer, the lady to his right giving a big kiss on his neck. The man on the other side fishes the ball out, drinks whatever is inside and crushes the cup before throwing it behind him.

On my left side, there’s a group of couples kissing on the couch. One of them kisses slow, with the guy’s hand disappearing inside the lady’s sparkly black dress. I wonder where his hand went. On the other end of the couch, another couple does the complete opposite. The man and woman are kissing like they are devouring each other’s faces. Weird grunts and groans are escaping out of their mouth while doing it. Ugh. how many cooties are they gonna catch from that?

I walk through the living room in a fast pace, not daring to look up. Smells of cigarettes, sweat, and perfumes all inhale inside my nose and exhale through my taste buds. I feel like gagging. But I can’t because all of these intoxicating smells are already suffocating me.

I finally reach the door and push myself to the other end, my back pressing behind the now closed door. Who are these people?  Why is it so messy? Why does my home no longer feel like a home? Where’s Mama and Papa? Papa’s right. I should’ve never left my room. I try to calm down, but my heart is rapidly racing and tears start to sting my eyes like a bunch of hornets. My breathing is getting tighter and tighter. I’m scared. I’m very, very scared. Mr. Bunny hangs below me, my hands clutches onto his ear. I hold him up and make him hug me. Even at this time, he cannot take my anxiousness away. 

I manage to calm down a little bit, my body still tense. I came here to use the bathroom, but I don’t feel like using it anymore. I just want to quickly get out of here and go to the safety of my room. The only safe zone in my home right now. Without hesitation, I hold Mr. Bunny by his legs, open the door and dash to my room, looking down.

As I walk, the noises never seem to die down. I pass by both tables, the couch with another couple on it and leave the non-living, living room filled with smoke, strangers and strobe lights. I finally reach the door of my bedroom. I place my hand on the door and turn it. Luckily, Papa did not see me. I made it back safe and sound. 

 Before I can even step in, I hear a heart wrenching scream to my right side. The door all the way at the end of the hall, connected to Mama and Papa’s room, is slightly open. What if Mama is in there? Are Papa and Mama fighting again? Without a second thought, I run towards the other side of the hallway. Mama always protects me from Papa, now it’s my turn. I swung the door open and it’s dark, but I still get to clearly see inside. My stomach drops and shivers travel all around my body. I drop Mr. Bunny. Papa is in his bed, but not with Mama.

It’s this woman. Blonde hair, tan skin, younger than Papa, and her hands touches Papa’s torso. They were kissing like how that one couple was in the couch, except they are a lot closer. Frozen, my feet are anchored to the ground, yet again. The lady was laughing and Papa is kissing her all over. How come I have never seen Papa do that to Mama? Papa looks so in love with her, while he always keeps his distance from Mama. 

I try to move, I try to not make a sound. But it’s all too late. My hand automatically reaches the light switch, flickering it on. A gasp escapes from my lips and they stop what they’re doing. Both of them look up at me and the woman screams, hops off of Papa and grabs a pillow to cover herself. Her face quickly turns into a bright shade of red and looks at Papa.

“Who’s kid is this? Is he yours?” She says in a demanding tone. 

“Isabelle, no no no, I don’t know who’s kid thi-”

“Pa, who is she? S-She is not Mama,” I stutter. My voice shakes and my throat tightens. Tears well up because I think I know what Papa is doing. He doesn’t love Mama anymore. 

“You know what,” the woman says standing up. “This just killed it.”

She throws the pillow at Papa’s face and grabs her dress from the ground, quickly putting it back on.

“No, Isabelle, it’s not what it looks like!” Papa stands up and goes after her. He holds her waist, but the Isabelle lady forces herself off of him and storms out. She kicks Mr. Bunny out of her path and slams the door. He stands, facing the door and I stand there dumbfounded. The only sounds that are present are the muffled noises of music and cheering, and Papa’s fuming. I stare at him hunched, but unable to look away. Slowly, he faces towards me. His eyes burn redder than the Devil I learned in Sunday school. Sometimes, I imagine Papa as the Devil when gets very mad. 

“I told you to stay in your room,” he spits. I blink. I try to apologize, but nothing exits from my mouth except silence. I’m sorry, I really am. I’m sorry for how Mama would react when she finds out. She does not deserve all of this. “Why didn’t you stay inside your room?” He raises his voice. “I’m sorry, Pa,” I force it out, through a shield of tears. Before I get to sob, he firmly grabs my arm and drags me to my room. “Shut up!” He sternly whispers as he leads me to my room. In a low voice, he quietly, but angrily says bad words that the kids in school always get in trouble for saying. The smell of smoke and the loud, booming music welcomes me once again. Once we reach my room, he pushes me inside and I lose balance. My right arm burns from tight embrace. My knees plants on the ground. I stare at him with a familiar feeling of anxiousness, knowing what he’s going to do next.

“After everyone leaves, you are in trouble with me. And don’t ever tell your mother what you saw, or else you both will be in trouble,” He slurs his words. I nod. “And don’t go outside, again,” he says coldly, before slamming the door. He never pursued what he usually does when I get in trouble, but his words leaves invisible  marks all around my body. I face my dark room, once again. This time, it’s more peaceful than scary. The muffled music from outside drowns out my sobs. Not too long after, I feel a warmth trickling around the bottom half of my body. I look down. 

I’ve wet myself.

I feel yucky and  I want to go to the bathroom to wash, but Papa’s voice haunts my head.

“Don’t go outside.”

And I don’t dare to go outside. Instead, I stay sitting on the ground empty handed, because my companion who is supposed to keep me safe is missing. And I silently wait for Mama’s warmth and protection.

October 19, 2019 03:10

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1 comment

Katelyn Sherwood
14:46 Oct 24, 2019

This is an amazing story!! Honestly, the only things I’d have to say are I found a couple minor typos (“my feet feels heavy” should be “feet feel” and “my hands clutches” should either be “my hand clutches” or “ my hands clutch”). Other than that, this is really well written, and I can feel the apprehension throughout in every little action he makes, which really put me in his shoes, and made the story come alive.


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