2014-2015, Short Story

Blinded by Clouds

Featured in 2015 Spring Issue of Rambunctious

By Hannah Smith, ’18

It’s about eleven when I find myself grasping a pillow against my tear-stained face like it’s the very thing that’s keeping me alive. Stuttered breaths try to escape my system but are trapped by my thick pillow case. I turn my head to the side so that I can breathe again and weakly open my swollen eyes. My limp limbs lift myself off of my bed and put on my favorite old sweatshirt. Quietly, I walk down the hallway to the back door, I turn the large metal handle and push it open. A gust of cool air rushes to meet my aching skin and a chill trickles down my back. I walk into the dusk and down the stone trail leading to the dock, listening to the comforting chirps of the hidden crickets. The evening breeze wisps my hair back like the way my daddy used to when he tucked me in every night as I fell asleep. My feet meet the moist, gritty sand and the dark blue water hugs my ankles and then retreats back to the lake. I make my way to the boathouse and climb to the roof. I look out at the bright moon and then down at its long reflection on the subtle waves. I rest my tired head on my knees and wrap my arms around my legs for a couple minutes. 

“Charlotte, get back inside right now,” a voice booms. Frightened, my head spins around to meet his eyes. He still looked angry and full of adrenaline, his right hand is grasping what is probably his fifth beer. Without a word, I get down off the roof and, keeping my distance, I walk back to the house. I scurry through the door, past John’s room and into our bedroom. I pace back and forth in front of the dresser, running my hands through my haphazard hair. I’ve made my decision. I grab a duffel bag and start throwing my clothes and other belongings into it. I hear his loud footsteps and the door slams open, denting a hole in the wall. He hurries over to me and grips both of my shoulders. A crazed look is spread across his unshaven face. 

“Where do you think you’re going?” he laughs as the scent of alcohol drips from his breath. I don’t reply, knowing anything I say will upset him further. 

“You think you’re going to leave me?” he shouts as he throws my body at the dresser, knocking down the lamp. I lay on the floor stoic, unable to process what just happened. I feel blood dripping down my lip. He comes towards me again, ready to slap, but trips over my bag and stumbles. He hits his head on the side of the bed and passes out on the floor. I pull myself to my feet leaning on the side of the dresser. I find my bag and finish packing for John and I. Choking back tears, I wipe away the blood and take a deep breath. Throwing the bag over my shoulder, I quietly walk to John’s room. 

“John, honey?” I whisper.

“Mommy?” his innocent voice answers.

“Baby, we’re gonna go see Nana, okay?” I tell him.

“Mommy have you been crying?” he worries.

“No baby, I just miss Nana,” I say forcing a soft smile.

“Okay,” he says sleepily as he tottles out of bed. He walks to me and I embrace him, thankful that he had not been hurt. We walk out of the house and down the driveway. The sky projects a depressed grey and warm raindrops kiss my cheeks as I hold onto John’s little hand. I open the car door and get him secure in his booster seat. I rush to the driver’s seat and throw the bag next to me. But I had forgotten the keys. 

“John, honey, I’ll be right back. I have to go back inside and get something. I will be right back,” I tell him.

“Okay,” he nods absentmindedly. I bolt up the driveway but quietly approach the doorway. Peering through the window, I only see empty bottles scattered across the living room, he’s probably still passed out. Carefully, I open the door and step in. I see the keys hanging next to the cabinets in the kitchen. I hear his body slam against the wall in front of me and his sly face peers around the corner. 

“Back so soon?” And the sound of a gunshot fills the air.