This is the first flash fiction challenge I have written, from the hilarious website terribleminds.com. I was inspired in part by a friends blog (http://mjswinney.wordpress.com/) to put my work out there for others to see.
“Momma! Momma! Momma! I’m hungry. I’m HUNGRY!”
That’s all I hear as I wander around the dark empty house–the three-year old clinging to my leg with surprising strength. She tugs at my baggy clothes in a desperate attempt for attention.
“Fine!” I snapped, knowing she didn’t deserve the harsh reply and instantly regretting it as tears began to reflect in her endlessly blue eyes. Eyes like his.
She points a chubby hand at the entrance to the kitchen, trying as hard as she can to lure me in and make her food. She knows I hate the kitchen.
I hate the open-ness that the lofty vaulted ceiling allowed. I hate the happy memories with Him, always a smile on his face, bounding from the sink to the stove, waltzing to the fridge for the perfect ingredient. I hate the beautiful solid wood floors that refuse to let go of the blood stain that I now hide with a crappy area rug I acquired at the neighbor’s garage sale. Every time I walk into that horrible room I’m blown back to that hot summer day when I walked in and found him, pale and empty, laying on the cool wood looking so peaceful, except for the gun still in his hand.
Her sweet pleas for attention drag me back into what I become since than day–a barren walking body killing my daughter and myself by slow starvation because I refuse to go into the kitchen.
I look down at the 40 pounds attached to my leg. Her sunny curls bounce as she looks at me, trusting that everything I do for her is the in her best interest.
I force myself into the kitchen, walking around the rug. There is one rule in this house–Don’t touch the fucking rug.
I grab the bread off the counter and fetch the peanut butter from the high shelf, resting my knee on the counter top as I use the leverage to raise my frail body up the extra four inches I need to reach the fucking jar. I curse His name. He always put the peanut butter on the top shelf, said it was funny watching me try to get it.
I put up with it then, probably because I, for some fucking reason, found his little games endearing. Now I’m just fucking annoyed.
Hatred floods through my body as I finally get a hold on the damn jar. I slam it down next to the bread heard enough to make the girl jump. I think to myself that I maybe I should pull my shit together and do some dishes as I pluck the last knife out of the drawer.
The girl follows me around the kitchen, smart enough to avoid the rug, waiting as patiently as a starving three-year-old can. I pull out two pieces of bread, they are starting to get dry, and I pick a bit of blue-green fuzz off the corner and slather it with peanut butter.
Carefully walking around the perimeter of the rug I open the fridge and reach into the dark, letting the rank smell of rotting milk permeate the air. Feeling around I find the jam and pray that it is still edible, for Her sake. I’m sure she would eat anything at this point-its been two days since she’s had something decent to eat.
I’ve been a piss-poor mother.
I slap some jam on the bread while I wallow in the endless waves of self-pity that have become my life. I turn to put the jam back into the putrid fridge and see her sitting on the rug.
“NO!” I hear myself yelling, “GET OFF THE RUG! COME HERE RIGHT NOW!”
She’s scared, confused.
My mind spins into a realm of mixed time, I can see him laying there bleeding out from a selfishly self-inflicted wound. I see her sitting there, where his chest was, like so many times when they would play on the floor, her sitting on his chest, him raising her in the air, her giggles filling the now frigid house with warmth.
The girl was crying now.
What have I done? I’m already starving her growing body and now I crush her spirit and fill her with fear too?
As the tears roll down her face I walk to the edge of the rug, still refusing to let even a millimeter of my skin touch it, and toss her the dry sandwich. She grabs it and smiles at me, happily eating, sitting atop the blood stain where her father ended his life and unknowingly ended ours.