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Drama Sad Fiction

Drinks by the dozen. And smoke. Lots of smoke. That’s what she remembers most from the night in June of ‘84. It takes the shrieks of a chainsaw to pull her from her thoughts.  “What, Dad?” Gripping her coffee in one hand, she uses her other hand as a shield to block out the sun so she can see her Dad. And there he was, teetering on the top step of a ladder, chainsaw in hand, his floppy hat covering his eyes. He makes a few more muffled groans and tries to take a step down. She walks a little closer. “What!?” Jesus Dad, turn that thing off, she thought.

Her father was older now, and probably shouldn't even be allowed to hold a chainsaw, but that wasn't fair to him. Now that he was retired, his crafts were all he had. He had always been a handyman, and whenever your sink got clogged or your door was jammed, you called Dave. Dave would fix it free of charge because he simply liked to help others. He was kind-hearted, and Amy was too. That’s why she walked forward, gently took the chainsaw from his shaking hands, switched off the power, and asked, “What did you say, Dad?”  Dave smiled and gave his daughter a wink.

“Did Chuck say anything about the gate?” She racked her thoughts, trying to process what her Dad just said. What had Chuck said? She pushed through all the little fights she had had with Chuck since then, and made her way to that day a week ago, and yes, he had seen the gate. She remembered. He had come home after a long day of work, pulled the car into the driveway, and trudged up to the front door. She hadn't heard his car alarm beep, but she did hear the front door slam. She thought he’d be happy that she had solved the problem without spending money. That's what he had told her, fix it without blowing your fucking paycheck. He was right after all, she had broken it. She believed that fully, even though he was the one who threw her into the gate, leaving a dark, ugly bruise along the left side of her body. It was her fault. She had forgotten to put the lid on the jelly again. 

         Amy didn't have the slightest clue as to how to rebuild the wooden gate. She tried though, she really had tried. She watched dozens of YouTube videos, and even pulled money from her secret shoe box in the closet to buy supplies. But she was too afraid to “make a little mess again,” as Chuck had liked to say. So, she called her Dad. He drove down the two hours southbound with no resentment, no huffing or puffing, not even a sigh. He put on the Beach Boys and whistled as he made his way to San Diego, without ever thinking twice about it. And he had done a stellar job. The wooden gate was taller than before, more privacy (Amy wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not) and it was painted a pale blue to match the trim on their house. It swung open with ease, unlike the last one, which made a horrible screeching sound every time it opened, or whenever it got rattled, like that night she broke it. 

         Amy blinked twice as the sound of her father's voice broke through the fog of fear she was still holding onto. Her father asked again. 

“Did Chuck like it?” He was smiling now. How could she lie to him? 

“He loved it! He said, ‘Damn, what happened here?’ Then he went and popped open a beer and we had dinner on the front porch, right next to it!” Of course that is not what Chuck had said. He slammed the front door and was behind her so quickly she didn't have time to run. She smelled the alcohol first, heavy on his breath, before she felt his hands slip around her neck. He put her in a choke hold and began to squeeze, hard, his hands gripping tighter every second. She had tried to make a sound, any sound, but she couldn't. How could she scream when she couldn't even breathe? Blood shot straight to her temples, and her head was pounding. 

She could hear her husband clear as daylight though. He lowered his lips to her ear, and whispered “Make a fool of me, huh? As if I can't do that job? What, you don't think I'm man enough? Honey?” Her legs had gone limp at this point, and she couldn't struggle anymore. She just took it all in, the words, the pain, the shame of it all. “That’s what I thought. So what’s for dinner?” He released her and she hit the ground hard, gasping for air. She raised her hands to her neck and began to cry, softly. She never should have tried to fix that gate, even if he told her to. She was damned if she did, and damned if she didn't. 

Amy had been making a taco bar for him, because it was a Tuesday, and she felt like making something special. In one swoop of his arm, Chuck sent all of the dishes she had prepared flying. She watched as they came crashing down and hit the floor next to where she lay. Her colorful glass and pottery bowls were shattered. The lettuce and cheese looked like confetti in the worst way. The beans burned her knees.

Chuck walked over to the fridge and opened a beer, one of many that night. Then, he leaned back against the counter and lit a cigarette. His small puffs floated in the hair, hanging there, like an unwanted guest. He stared at her for some time. Amy knew it was best to stay put, to try not to move. Finally, it was Chuck who broke the silence. “Clean up this little mess, Ok?” With that, he went back out the front door and didn't come home until the early morning hours. 

         So she fabricated the gate story a little, big deal. Dave’s eyes gleamed with pride and he gave his daughter a big, toothy grin. “Guess I better get back to it.” She let go of the chainsaw and backed away slowly as she watched her father begin to climb the ladder once more. 

Today was Tuesday, and she’d make tacos for dinner. 

January 30, 2021 01:41

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1 comment

Darryl Lehane
21:28 Feb 10, 2021

I like this. I think you caught the narcissism of the abuser perfectly. Everything wrong is someone else's fault. Anything done right is an attempt to mock them and make them look the fool.

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