Home Front

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
Being beaten up, hurts, but you can dust yourself off, the bruises and wounds will heal. But when Melissa has to watch her Mother suffer at the hands of her posing Father, it is not as easy to heal

Submitted: April 22, 2013

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Submitted: April 22, 2013

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“No. I definitely want to drop all the charges. No. Okay. Thanks,” Melissa overheard her Mother saying on the phone, while she stood at the top of the stairs. Melissa’s Stepfather had been arrested again last night, after he got home from the pub, drunk as usual. Melissa walked down the stairs slowly, wondering whether her Stepfather would be in when she got home from School, when she felt a sharp pain in her foot. Melissa cried out in pain as she felt her sock moisten. Her Mother came to the stairs, “Oh, I thought I heard something.” Melissa’s Mother followed her daughter’s eyes and gasped in shock when she saw Melissa’s white School sock, saturated in blood.

“Are you okay? I thought I had cleaned up all the glass last night, I will go and get...”

“No, Mum, it’s fine!” Melissa snapped, as she turned away to hobble back up the stairs.

Limping into her bedroom, Melissa retrieved another pair of socks and threw the other pair in the bin. This wouldn’t keep happening if Mum would just let the Police do their job, instead of feeling Sorry for the man that makes our lives a misery, thought Melissa, but then she was distracted when she heard the doorbell. A glance at her clock read 8.10am, confirming that the person at the door would be her best friend, Suzie, who would be waiting to walk to School with her.

On the walk to School, Melissa was not her usual, talkative self. As Suzie talked and talked, all she could think about was whether her Stepfather would be at her house when she got home. She wished she could have stayed at home today to make sure her Mother did not make any rash decisions.

During English, double Physical Education, Mathematics, and Art, Melissa found it hard to concentrate or show any enthusiasm as she was suffering from flashbacks, regarding the events that took place on the previous night. A plate flying across the room, resulting in her Mother’s favourite China smashing, and her homemade Lasagne sliding down the wall, leaving an orange, saucy trail. Screaming from her Mother, begging and pleading for Brian to stop it, that it hurt, how she would not do it again, that she was very sorry, and that she loved him. Melissa hiding underneath her bed with the television volume at maximum, trying her hardest to drown out the arguing and make it go away.

“Melissa. Melissa!” exclaimed a frustrated Mr Brown. Melissa snapped out of last night’s events, back to reality and back to the present day.

“Sorry, Sir,” mumbled Melissa, still feeling disorientated, trying to remember whether she had heard anything Mr Brown had been teaching, luckily the end of the day School bell rang. Melissa was relieved that she was not made to humiliate herself by having to attempt to answer any of Mr Brown’s questions, but it was short-lived when the realisation that she had to go home now, darkened her previous relief.

As Melissa walked out of the big blue swing doors, she saw Suzie waiting for her at the School gates to walk home with her, like every other normal day, although today was not any old day, Melissa thought to herself. Today, Melissa was worried about going home and who might be there.

The key turned in the front door, as the door popped open; she was greeted with a familiar face. It was smiling, but hiding something. This face was one of many face’s her Mother had. Melissa already knew Brian was back again, she had seen this face before, many times and knew it well, as it triggered other occasions, when Brian had come back. Melissa rolled her eyes at her Mother, ignoring anything she had to say as she had heard it all before. He said he has changed, that it will not happen again, he has promised me, Melissa, he does love us, you know. He wants to be a better person and wants me to help him, I believe him this time, Melissa, he is sorry and wants us to be a family again. Melissa had reached the top of the stairs, her Mother behind trying all the previous tactics that did not work on Melissa anymore. She was not convinced. Melissa walked into her bedroom, shut the door and locked it, keeping everything out. She slumped onto her bed, let out a big, much needed, sigh. As she felt herself relaxing, her eyes closed. Melissa knew it was going to happen again, it always did.

Waking up to her mobile phone ringing, Melissa had not realised she had fallen asleep. She had not known she had been tired, but guessed it was due to having to help her Mother scrub Lasagne off the walls, the carpet, and the sofa. They were still slightly stained orange, showing that not everything can be wiped clean and forgotten, like her Mother and Brian thought.

It was Suzie on the phone, Melissa was meant to meet her an hour ago to go to the youth club. Suzie had a crush on Max, an eighteen-year-old youth worker, so they had to make an appearance every Monday and Friday. Quickly getting dressed, Melissa ran down the stairs, two at a time, opened the front door to leave, not bothering to say goodbye. They would not care anyway as they are probably to wrapped up in themselves to even notice whether I was there or not, thought Melissa as she strolled down the road.  

Arriving at the youth club on the corner, Suzie was waiting outside. Melissa heard shouting in the distance; naturally, she jumped at the familiar sound of an argument. She looked around trying to figure out where it was coming from, when she felt someone grab her. Melissa swung round to be faced with an excitable Suzie.

“Oh. You scared me!” Melissa trembled.

“Sorry, but guess what? Max spoke to me! He has such a nice voice. What do you reckon this means, Mel?” Suzie said, breathlessly.

“I don’t know. Maybe he was just being friendly, Suze.” Melissa turned around again, as the shouting had got louder. She heard Suzie grunt.

“What is wrong with you?” Suzie huffed, not as excited anymore.

Melissa turned back around, just in time to see her best friend walk away. She felt bad, but if all Suzie had to worry about was what Max meant and whether there was a hidden agenda, then she should consider herself as lucky.

Melissa heard a woman’s voice, distraught but still shouting. She wondered over the road, the voices were getting closer. She kept walking, following the road round to find a woman crumpled on the pavement. The woman had her face in her hands and her body was shaking as she cried.

Melissa looked around and saw pieces of clothing, trousers, t-shirts, jumpers, skirts, sprawled all over the pavement. She bent down and asked whether the woman was okay. The woman snapped her head round, terror in her eyes, and froze. Melissa asked again, no response, so she waved her hands in front of her face. The woman’s eyes came back into focus and moved to stare at Melissa. The woman shook her head and looked down.

“I’m sorry. I must have zoned out then. So Sorry.”

“It’s okay. I only came to see if you were alright?”

“You don’t need to see this, look at you, so young, innocent...” the woman trailed off, looking into the distance again. Melissa vaguely heard the woman whisper, “I wish I was your age again.”

Melissa started collecting up the garments on the pavement, as if by second nature.

“Stop. It’s Okay. Don’t worry,” Melissa was startled by the sudden change in the woman’s voice.

“I don’t mind, honestly, I want to help.”

“I said stop it. Just stop it, please,” the woman snapped.

Melissa was confused; she thought this woman needed help, why would she not accept any?

“It’s all my fault. It always is. People tell me all the time. They tell me nothing will change, that it will continue and go back to how it always is. I do not know why I never listen, I should realise by know, and see sense. I should already know that whatever he says are just lies, but I fall for it, over and over again,” the woman sobbed.

Melissa could relate to what the woman was saying, as she had told her Mother that same things, and her Mother never listened either, which Melissa could never understand. She could not help sympathising with the woman, a broken shell. She should not blame herself, Melissa thought.

“I understand,” Melissa soothed.

“How could you? You are just a child!” the sounded icy, almost envious.

“Well, My Mum...” hesitated Melissa, she had never spoken about her home life to anyone before, especially not to a complete stranger, but she continued.

Melissa explained how Brian would hit her Mother, throw things, and smash his fist into walls and doors, while the woman listened. After Melissa stopped, she felt a little lighter, as if a huge load had just been lifted from her chest. She noticed the woman had tears rolling down her face.

“You shouldn’t have to live like that. Your home is supposed to be your safe-haven. Your childhood is meant to help influence any decisions you make about your future and teach you what is right and wrong. You only get one childhood, and you should have a memorable one. One of happy memories, innocence, exploring the world and have times that you can look back on and smile to yourself,” the woman ranted.

Melissa had not realised, but now she was crying as well. Her emotions had bubbled inside during the woman’s speech, emotions she did not even realise she was bottling up. Her mind had gone completely blank, as she stared into the dark night.

“Melissa. There you are. I have been looking everywhere for you. What are you doing?” Suzie quizzically asked. The familiar voice made Melissa snap out of her daydream. She wiped her tears away and turned around to reply to Suzie.

“Hey. I was, um, I just, I saw, so I walked over, and there was clothes...” Melissa felt something on her shoulder; the woman had placed a comforting hand on Melissa’s shoulder.

“She was just helping me pick up all my clothes I dropped. I am so clumsy sometimes,” the woman interjected as she rose. Melissa could not believe how much the woman’s composure had changed, it was as if the conversation that they had just had, did not even happen. Melissa looked at the woman with confusion on her face.

“Oh. I can help,” Suzie said as she picked up a jumper. “Wow! Is this vintage? I love it!”

“Uh, Yes, I think so. You can have it if you like. It would suit you better than me.” The woman said in a breezy voice.

“Really? You mean it? Wow! That is amazing. Thank you so much,” Suzie said, obliviously.

Melissa was still sat on the pavement, watching, while the woman and Suzie circled her, picking up the clothes, without actually watching them.

“Thank you for helping me. I hope you enjoy the jumper,” he woman almost sang.

“You’re welcome. Thank you for the jumper. Come on Mel, why are you still on the floor?”

Melissa stood up abruptly, “But, where will you go?” she shouted, after the woman.

“I will be fine. Thank you both, for your help. You go and have fun, make some happy memories together, you deserve it,” the woman replied.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. Go,” smiled the woman.

“Come on, Melissa, the youth club closes in half an hour,” Suzie said, tugging Melissa’s arm.

As Melissa and Suzie walked down the road, Suzie said, “She was nice, wasn’t she? Look at this jumper!” as she held the jumper up. When they got to the corner, Melissa looked back. She saw the woman, with all her clothes bundled up in her arms; disappear behind a bush as she walked up a path, leading to a front door.

Back at the youth club, Suzie was swooning over Max, Greg and Ben was playing pool and Laura was stood in the corner gossiping with Michelle. Melissa was thinking about the woman and what she said, when she received a text message from her Mother. Maybe she does care, thought Melissa, until she read the contents of the text. It was just to notify Melissa that her Mother and Brian will not be home, as they have gone out for a romantic meal together. Melissa did not want an invite, as she would not have wanted to go, but to be asked would have been nice.

Suzie finally managed to pull herself away from Max, but if the youth club had not been closing anyway, she may have stood there all night. Melissa and Suzie walked home. Suzie talked about Max the whole way, right up to Melissa’s front door, until Melissa cut her off to say goodbye.

As promised, Melissa was greeted to an empty house. She went into the kitchen to get something to eat and found a note on the fridge in her Mother’s handwriting, saying her dinner was in the microwave. Melissa set the microwave to three minutes and made herself a glass of orange juice. Melissa did not care that the orange juice was Brian’s, she was thirsty and wanted some, so she did. The microwave beeped twice to alert it had finished. The whole kitchen smelled of spaghetti bolognaise, Melissa’s stomach rumbled. She got a knife and fork from the cutlery drawer, a tray from the pan cupboard and placed her plate and drink on the tray. As she carried her tray through the kitchen and into the front room, a noise outside made Melissa jump. She thought she was just being silly, must have been next door’s cat. So she sat on the sofa, turned the television on, and started to eat her dinner. The Simpsons was on, Melissa liked The Simpsons so she did not realise that she had already eaten half of her dinner, as she had been too distracted by the television.

Just as Melissa was winding her spaghetti around her fork, a loud smash broke her concentration, when the front room window went flying around the room, along with one of her Mother’s terracotta plant pots from the front garden. Melissa jumped so much, that her tray clanged onto the floor, her plate smashing and the remainder of her food, spread across the floor. The front door swung open, her Mother flew through the door and quickly grasped at the door, trying desperately to shut it. Panic was etched on her Mother’s face.

Melissa was still on the sofa, everything happened so fast she had not had a chance to move, frozen to her seat. Her Mother had bolted the door, put the chain across, picked up the house phone, tip-toed cautiously over the broken glass, smashed plant pot, the smeared spaghetti bolognaise, and the shattered plate to the far corner of the front room. Three buttons were pressed on the house phone, resulting in an immediate response.

“Police, please,” her Mother said, her voice shaking as she spoke.

The doorbell was going off continuously, the door was knocking and incoherent shouting could be heard. Melissa’s eyes travelled with her Mother, while she was walking to the kitchen, with her left hand blocking one ear, the other holding the phone.

Melissa rose from where she was sat, suddenly out of the trance, turned the television off, and went into autopilot. Walking towards the broken ceramic, china and glass, bending down to clean it up, just like washing the dishes, it was a normal chore for Melissa. She jumped as her Mother shouted to leave it alone, making Melissa stand up, lost, not knowing what she should do, or where to go.

Melissa’s Mother put the phone down on the kitchen table as Melissa walked into the kitchen.

“The Police will be here in a minute,” her Mother stated, in an attempt to reassure Melissa that it would be over soon.  Melissa knew it would not be the end of it, it never was, Brian will be back tomorrow, most definitely, which reminded her of the woman she had tried to help that evening, when she said everyone tells her it will never change, and how she deserved a better life, which spurred her into thinking she needed to say something.

“Mum, I hate living like this, I am always, and I shouldn’t have to be scared in my own home. You don’t deserve to be treated like this either, no-one should be beaten, it is against the law, and for a very good reason. You never know what he is capable of each time, what if next time he went too far and he killed you? I would have no Mother; you would not be able to watch me grow up into the woman you made me. You won’t be alone if he never comes back, I will always be here, you know I will, and we can be happy and make mum-and-daughter memories to look back on and smile about, not look back on a life of terror, sadness and misery. Please, do it for me and for yourself, Please,”

Melissa looked at her Mother, for a flicker of acknowledgement, when she noticed her Mother’s stance change, she looked taller, broader and said, “There won’t be a next time, Melissa, as he will never step foot in this house again, for as long as we both shall live. If we show a united front, nobody will be able to break us and make us fall down again. We can do it, can’t we, Melissa?”

Melissa smiled, “Of course we can, Mum, we can do anything if we do it together, I will be strong for you, Mum, I will be your pillar and hold you up.”

Something smashed in the house, it was the front door. Melissa and her Mother did not have a chance to react, before Brian was in front of them. Melissa’s eyes welled up with tears when she screamed as Brian wrapped his big hands around her Mother’s dainty neck and pushed her into the kitchen side.  She did not know what to do whilst watching her Mother’s face turn a shade of purple; he was too big for her Mother to fight off.

Melissa saw something in the corner of her eye, as she turned, a man dressed in black jumped on Brian and managed to wrestle his hands away from her Mother’s neck. Her Mother fell to the floor, choking and coughing, holding her neck whilst gasping for air. She ran to her Mother’s side and cradled her in her arms.

“You are under arrest...” the man in black shouted, while sat on Brian’s back.

Melissa’s eyes focused as the tears fell from them, enough to recognise that the man in black was a Police Officer. They could not have arrived at a better time, Melissa thought, thankfully.

 

A few months later, whilst Melissa and Suzie were on their way to the youth club, a woman walked past that Melissa recognised. She realised it was the woman she had tried to help.

“Hey! How are you?” Melissa shouted.

The woman turned around, looking puzzled. She squinted at Melissa, then recognition was evident as her face turned into a smile and she walked back, towards Melissa and Suzie.

“Hi. I am good, really good, thanks. How are you?”

“I am great, too. Mum and I have made some great memories that I will never forget.” Melissa winked. “The last time we met, I thought I saw you walk back up the path?”

“Oh, no. I walked up my neighbour’s path. I am free and single, at last, only took seven years! But I have never been happier, I may have even made some great memories too!” the woman winked.

“Anyway, it was great seeing you again. I am glad that we have both made some great memories. I have to go now, before I miss anything at the youth club.”

“Okay. Don’t let me keep you. Remember, you deserve it.”

“Don’t you forget to follow your own advice – you deserve it too!” Melissa giggled, as she walked away. When she turned around a few minutes later, she could not stop the big smile from spreading across her face as she watched the woman walk off into the distance.


© Copyright 2018 Zoe Ross. All rights reserved.

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