I’ve been saving this post for a little while now. This is the short story I was going to submit, but wanted to see what would happen if I submitted it. It should be pretty clear why I’m posting this story now, but hopefully it’ll be clearer why I felt so good about it.
It took me years to run away. The door was always open. “You can leave whenever you want,” he always said. I tried to leave the house when I was eleven, but I didn’t make it far enough. “He’ll kill me,” I told the cop, who found me walking down the side of the highway, before he rang the doorbell.
He beat me with his belt and made sure the belt buckle hit me across the cheek on the last crack. “Most dad’s try to hide the beatings they give their kids — yes, all dads, including mine who you never met — but if you can hide the marks from others, you can hide them from yourself.”
I felt the blood drip down my face, absorb into the collar of my shirt, but I didn’t dare move a muscle. It was never easy growing up with a dad who’d revel in pointing out how huge a disappoint I was, but I underestimated how much of a monster he was until that day. “If you do it again, I’ll break your legs — so you can’t run.”
He often blamed me for mom’s death. She died shortly after giving birth to me. “The doctors were covered in her blood. You made her bleed too much. You weighed too much; she gained too much weight carrying you.” No one asked me if I wanted to be born.
We lived in a small town where we could leave our front doors and cars unlocked. Two weeks prior, he was teaching me how to drive a stick, letting me shift gears while he drove to the store to pick up frozen meals for the two of us.
One night, he passed out drunk earlier than expected. He usually made it to midnight before falling asleep with the remote in his hand. Anyway, I knew he kept the keys to his old Ford F-150 on the kitchen table, so I grabbed them as quietly as I could, snuck out the back door, turning the knob and slowly pulling the door shut to avoid the click that would give him away, and backed out the driveway with the headlights off.
This is where it gets crazy, like in the movies. The same cop that brought me home pulled me over an hour into the drive down that very same highway. I recognized him as soon as he stepped out his patrol car. I wasn’t eighteen yet, and I knew he’d recognize me too and send me home, seeing that I was, in fact, alive after that incident. “I’ll break your legs if I catch you,” I heard my father say again.
“You’re the boy who ran away five years ago,” the officer said. “Your father reported this truck missing.” I stared blankly back at him. “Where are you heading?” he asked.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I finally replied.
“He said you’re not old enough to drive yet. It shows. You were speeding, if it matters.”
“How did he know?” I asked.
“He heard you start it up. When the headlights didn’t come on, he knew someone was stealing it. ‘I yelled for him, but he didn’t answer. I put two and two together and called you guys.'”
I yelled at him. “It was your job to protect me, and you sent me back to him. You didn’t believe me; you thought I’d be okay, but here we are again.” He apologized and said I needed to relax, and that I needed to step out of the vehicle.
It was dark. I thought I could take advantage. The decision I was about to make wasn’t a good one; there was no chance I’d ever redeem myself. But I’d be free from him. I wouldn’t have to step foot in that house again. For the first time in my life, I found peace of mind; I was in control. I lunged for his gun, but his hand was already wrapped tightly around the grip.
If you’re interested in submitting your own work, please see my submission guidelines. I’ve already had two people submit their own work and I’m itching for more. Genre doesn’t matter. It can be poetry, fiction, essays, plays, free writing — whatever you want.